VoX to display stories about identity

by Hallie Huffaker | 7/23/15 8:13pm

Voices of 15X or VoX, directed by Jessica King-Fredel ’17 and Kalie Marsicano ‘17, will be a gender-inclusive production of students bearing their souls to their peers.

VoX follows in the same vein as Voices, Upstaging Stereotypes and The Vagina Monologues — three shows presented during V-February, King-Fredel said. In the winter, Marsicano and King-Fredel co-directed Voices, which was in its second year.

“Everyone wanted to keep the momentum going,” King-Fredel said. She said that VoX, like its predecessors, addresses themes of gender, sexuality and identity. The production provides a safe space for students to speak about anything meaningfulto them, King-Fredel said.

“The idea is that we can exposesome people to conversations that they haven’t previously been aware of before,” Hannah Solomon ’17 said. Solomon joined the VoX committee after being “blown away” by Voices in the winter.

The directors expanded the production to be open to all genders.

“We wanted to take advantage of peoples’ willingness to try new things,” Marsicano said.

Chris Meyer ’17, another member of the VoX committee and a previous participant in Upstaging Stereotypes, said that the class unity created over the sophomore summer term makes it an ideal time to have conversations.

“It is unique because it is just us ’17s, so among the committee there is more of a sense that we as a class can come together and look at issues of identity — whether that’s gender, sexuality, really any aspect of your identity that you think is important,” he said.

Unlike with the V-February shows, everyone involved in VoX, including committee members, must write and perform their own pieces.

Committee member Gabby Bozarth ‘17 first participated in Voices as a freshman, and said that she appreciates the honesty of the performances.

“A lot of times on this campus we are asked to speak for things as representatives,” Bozarth said. “But during Voices you are only speaking for yourself, and you get to tell your narrative the way you want to.”

Everyone on the committee said that the goal of VoX is to allow people to share stories that are meaningful to them.

“Everyone has a story,” Meyer said. “I personally believe that it is very helpful for me as an individual to share that, and for my friends or other Dartmouth students to hear that.”

Marsicano said she appreciates the way that it provides a safe framework for people to speak their mind.

“A lot of times when you are talking about really hot issues it can be polarizing and it can turn people away, so this is a way for people to talk about things that matter to them,” she said.

King-Fredel echoed her peers and said that she learns from others’ pieces.

“Simultaneously they can be very personal stories but also speak to bigger social issues,” she said. “It’s nice to have these themes brought down to earth.”

Bozarth said that the performance is primarily about self-expression.

“I hope that when people come they just see our honest stories and take them as that,” she said. “I hope that they see us as individuals and the vulnerability there, and can appreciate that.

There are no restrictions on what the pieces can be about, King-Fredel said. Although performances are often related to gender, she said race would likely become a bigger part of the conversation.

The cast rehearses once a week. They spent their first rehearsals doing team-building exercises, Bozarth said, before moving on to reading their drafts out loud.

Committee member Amara Ihionu ’17, listening to other cast members is a phenomenal experience.

“Looking at a person, you haveno idea about anything,” Ihionu said. “Hearing their pieces in workshop is mind-blowing.”

The vulnerability of the process creates a tight bond within the cast, King-Fredel said. Meyer is particularly excited for how close the group will become during tech week, the final week of rehearsals.

“It can seem like you’ll never get it done, but the last few days of rehearsal it all comes together,” he said. “You can look back and know you did something special.”

Marsicano hopes that the central location of the performance — Collis Common Ground — will bring a large audience from all ends of campus, unlike their previous audiences, which she described as “self- selecting.”

“I’m hoping that we can keep the conversations going,” Marsicano said. “We want people to feel more comfortable and able to talk about these things that aren’t so easy to talk about.”

The main VoX performance will be accompanied by a series of panels organized by the Center for Gender and Student Engagement. These panels feature student and faculty speakers.

The performance will be on August 10 at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

Marsicano is a member of TheDartmouth staff.