‘Student Body’ takes a serious look at sexual assault


Madison College Performing Arts will present “Student Body” opening on Oct. 25.

What comes to mind when you think of theater? William Shakespeare? Maybe some famous Broadway musical like “Hamilton” or “Wicked?”

Each year, the Performing Arts Leadership (PAL) Board selects the slate of productions to be performed. The play the group selected for this year’s fall production is “Student Body,” written by Frank Winters.

Student Body sheds light on the controversial topic of sexual assault.  It takes place at a small college where some students have gathered through a mutual friend, who has a video of a party they all attended the week prior.

The video ends with a situation that leads the students to discuss whether the act was consensual sex or sexual assault. The students find themselves struggling to figure out what to do about the tape.

There are thousands of plays and musicals to pick from, so why was this one chosen?

“I think sexual assault on campus is still a major problem.  It was a major problem over 20 years ago when I was on campus and it still is a problem,” said Miranda Hawk, who is an instructor at the college and will direct the play. “It’s something that we need to keep aware of and we need to learn how to talk about it.”

The play reflects what victims face when making claims of sexual assault. There’s open ridicule, disbelief, public shaming, and other things that strongly influence the high rate of incidents that go unreported.  Statistics say 20 percent to 25 percent of college women and 15 percent of college men are victims of forced sex during their time in college.  As troubling, an estimated 90 percent of sexual assaults go unreported.

“The way the students talk about whether or not this was an alleged sexual assault in this play, they question what this young lady was wearing, how was her behavior, how she dresses, how she text messages guys,” Hawk said.

The play also examines what you do as a bystander of a situation, Hawk said.  

Accountability in every aspect is strongly considered from multiple angles. Have you ever and wondered and thought to yourself why people choose to watch instead of do something about what’s happening?  And even further, should the people who do nothing to help somebody be subject to some type of consequence?

Hawk said sexual assault is now becoming a more frequent discussion topic thanks to news media coverage of celebrities, the #MeToo movement and even a bone chilling series on Netflix, “13 Reasons Why,” that draw many comparisons to this fall’s production of student body.

Fall Production

Madison College Performing Arts will put on the play, “Student Body,” by Frank Winters.

Dates and times:  Oct. 25-27, 8 p.m.; Nov. 1-3, 8 p.m.

Location: Studio Theater.

Ticket prices: free for students with a OneCard, $12 for public, $10 for seniors (62 and up) and $6 for youth (17 and under), Get tickets online or at the Mitby Theater Box Office.