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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Students perform play exploring themes of sexuality

The cast and crew from “Slipping,” on Friday, May 15, at the Performing Arts Center. // Photo by Connor Jalbert
The cast and crew from “Slipping,” on Friday, May 15, at the Performing Arts Center. // Photo by Connor Jalbert

Western theater students pushed past the barrier that usually separates the audience from the cast in the play “Slipping,” by Daniel Talbott at the Performing Arts Center.

The play ran Thursday, May 14, through Sunday, May 17, and centered around a character named Eli, a gay teenager struggling with his father’s death, moving to a new state, leaving love behind and finding new love.

The show was directed by Western student Scott Randall through Student Theatre Productions.

One of the major components of the play was that all the actors were straight but played gay or bisexual characters, junior assistant stage manager Owen Fox said. In order to overcome this, the cast had to become comfortable with each other.

“Each character would have to go off their past experiences and their friends to really portray their characters,” Fox said. “The characters don’t need to be their gender, they do not need to be their orientation — it’s more about their experiences with the people that they are attracted to.”

Fox, a music education and vocal performance major, said his job was to go to every rehearsal to give his notes.

Randall is majoring in theater education and has been directing plays for about 20 years. “Slipping” was the first play he directed as a Western student.

“Most scripts for teenagers are poorly written, so I was on this huge search for a relative play for today’s teens,” Randall said. “I came across this play, which would not really be put on in high schools, but it definitely deals with what today’s teenagers in our culture are actually dealing with.”

STP gave Randall permission to produce the play, and they held auditions after spring break. The entire play was put together in five weeks, Randall said.

About 12 to 15 people auditioned for the four main characters. Despite some apprehension about the play’s adult content, junior theater major Stephan Cherewyk took the lead role of Eli.

“When they offered me Eli, I was kind of apprehensive because I knew how many nude scenes Eli had, and that kind of scared me,” Cherewyk said. “I think after this experience I am much more comfortable with myself, and I really appreciate what I have learned through this.”

Cherewyk felt the performance went very well.

“I think that each performance is unique because it is live theater,” Cherewyk said. “Live theater has the tendency to change on a day-to-day basis, and I think that’s a beautiful process.”

The play was meant to make people comfortable talking about gender identity and abuse, Randall said.

“I think what is really important to me about this play is the idea that people can come in here, and they do not necessarily have to be gay or do not necessarily even have to like the play,” Randall said.

The STP’s next performance will be “FunGasm” on Tuesday, May 26, and Wednesday, May 27, at Old Main Theater.

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