Double Take Project
Double Take Project combined interdisciplinary techniques and Applied Theatre to empower college students at Bucknell University to address the many issues of their social and party culture. The project was cultivated May 2011 to May 2012 by senior, Tina Cody.
Despite research gathered in the Campus Climate Report, I believe that it underrepresented the student experience of the social scene. The document primarily served as an identification tool for four major problems on campus: binge drinking, sexual assault, diversity, and disengagement in the classroom. Double Take Project also identifies similar issues however, this project uses theatrical techniques to gather the anecdotal reality of the student perspective. Double Take Project expands beyond the Campus Climate Report to inspire dialogue in a variety of student-to-student interactions and, more importantly, the project seeks action and solution plans.
The social scene dominates our culture and its many issues result in concern for the safety, self-identity, and development of Bucknell students into thriving adults. Double Take Project is rooted in the belief that theatre is a palpable tool for social change. Over the course of many events, Double Take Project has utilized facets of theatre to provide opportunities to voice discontent, widen perception of normalcy on campus, and inspire confidence to act on personal beliefs.
The Double Take Project uses many Applied Theatre methods to impact the social scene. For example, I conducted 36 student interviews and transformed the stories into a one-woman show, Rage Behind Curtains, which I performed at multiple venues across campus. I also used interviews to create a radio show airing one story per day. I conducted ten workshops with student groups, Fraternities and Sororities, and in the classroom utilizing Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) techniques. I also created a “social scene confessional” where I stood outside the Elaine Langone Center with a sign that read, “Tell me a story about the social scene” from a wide variety of Bucknell students. Finally, I have assembled a Forum Theatre Company based on Augusto Boal’s method of the spect-actor, utilizing participants as both actors and spectators in the theatre piece. All of the names indicated in this paper have been altered to protect the identity of the participants.
While planning events and conducting various theatrical experiences, I learned that there are a series of internal and external issues contributing to our social environment. Internally, students are conflicted with personal beliefs while battling outward social pressure. Whether they are on the outskirts or center of the social scene determines their response to this conflict. For example, I have discovered that students on the borders of the social culture respond with criticism because they feel excluded, whereas the student’s centrally involved critique the culture in private and while their persona appears to not want change. Externally, there are many structural issues that contribute to the current social climate such as without Fraternity meal plans, Cafeteria space is not sufficient to feed all of the students, exclusive party culture, and gendered housing. Through meetings with Deans and staff, I have learned there are also problems between administration and students, resulting in resentment and blame.
Although addressing structural issues would instigate immediate change, in my opinion, internal student conflicts are the primary cause for the current negative social atmosphere. I believe that pressure to conform is rooted in lack of personal identity. Because students simply do not know themselves, they form strong social groups that become the definition of themselves. Without confident self-awareness, large and powerful groups coerce students to accept social norms resulting in the individual’s outward distaste for change, yet internal discomfort.
THE PROBLEM [s]:
Upon my entrance into college, I began to identify issues at Bucknell as a mere personal quest to observe the reality of my surroundings. I have not conducted any formal research in my past three years; rather, I have gathered a plethora of personal experiences to help me identify six major issues.
1. Greek life dominates all social interaction shaping relationships, status, lifestyle, and experience.
2. High-level binge drinking, blacking out, and general excess define parties at Bucknell.
3. Lack of engagement in the classroom; no connections between academics and social life.
4. Inequality between men and women.
5. High level of sexual assault and students’ “blind eyes” to the seriousness, high frequency, and occurrence of these events.
6. Minority students of race, sexual preference, and Independents are excluded from the social environment.
After identifying these topics for myself throughout my experience, the Campus Climate Report was released and outlined seven almost identical problems. The report confirmed my own observations through statistical evidence and data. In response to the Report and my own observations, I developed Double Take Project to provide anecdotal research to the topics identified, examining the student perspective from actual experience instead of numerical data.
Following inward reflection and study of the Campus Climate Report, I realized we both overlooked the lack of human connection and friendship between Bucknell students. I believe that the absence of “true” relationships is the root of all of the problems identified by the Campus Climate Report and my personal experiences.
I believe that theatre can directly better the connection, communication, and development of students in our social scene at Bucknell University. Theatre primarily functions as a form of expression that intends to connect humans through the ancient art of storytelling. Sharing personal experiences reveals pressing issues in a shared environment, creates a community of understanding, exposes multiple perspectives, and challenges the speaker to express repressed feelings. I believe theatre is the perfect solution to solving and exposing minimal student-to-student connection, simply because it requires basic communication: sharing and listening or giving and receiving. If we increase interaction, honesty, friendship, and ultimately a community between students, the secrecy and animosity behind the issues identified will dissipate. I am also convinced that exposing similar voices and experiences through storytelling will increase connection because students will realize, they are not alone.
If my intention is to use theatre to express all of the various components of the student voice and create a community, it is essential to not limit the project to one issue. Although advised to do the opposite, I decided that a cross examination of all of the cultural problems would illuminate the source, discover which issue was most pressing, and allow all student voices to be exposed regardless if the story fit the specific concern. An acceptance of all experiences is crucial in the development of a community because our current social state is exclusive, secretive, and compartmentalized; thus, if Double Take Project intends to unite all Bucknell students, everyone must be heard equally.