Unbound, Vassar’s own experimental, non-hierarchical group, will be holding true to its goal of producing inventive student theater through a new production entitled “Not Anonymous.”
The group will perform “Not Anonymous” at the Susan Stein Shiva Theater on Friday, November 1 at 6 p.m. and Saturday, November 2 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
“Not Anonymous” is a collaborative performance piece that brings together a multiplicity of art forms and comments on a broad spectrum of issues that plague society and the individual today.
Kelly Schuster ’15 explained what prompted the creation of “Not Anonymous.” “I really wanted a space to talk about gender or to talk about race or sexuality or class—to talk about all of these things. And to talk from our own voices and not to use the voice of someone else,” she explained.
But “Not Anonymous” is not necessarily definable, and that is what makes it unique to most other art forms. The piece will be performed by 10 artists and will consist of a little bit of a mix of mediums, from visual art, monologues and dance to stand up, theatrical pieces and song.
“Not Anonymous” is ultimately a theater piece entwined with elements of many different art forms.
The idea for “Not Anonymous” began with Schuster, Penny Puksic ’15, Sierra Garcia ’15, Shivani Dave ’15 and Taylor Dalton ’15. The future members of Unbound were then working on “The Vagina Monologues” last semester when they found some aspects of the show to be problematic.
“For me,” said Schuster, “I felt both empowered by it and yet frustrated [by “The Vagina Monologues] because I was saying someone else’s words, and there is a bit of an exclusionary nature in that show. It is for a specific identity that is not very representative but claims to be very representative.”
The need for a fully inclusive performance piece became necessary for the group of students, and thus “Not Anonymous” started to take shape.
“I also felt really nurtured by the cast and I really wanted a space to talk about gender or to talk about race or sexuality or class—to talk about all of these things. And to talk about them from our own voices and not to use someone else’s words,” elaborated Schuster.
The problem for the group was the non-original nature that comes with scripted works of theater. Unbound’s goal in creating “Not Anonymous” was to act as themselves. “We wanted to not be another character but to be ourselves. That was a space which we wanted and that we wanted for others as well,” said Schuster.
“We wanted it to be a new thing, and we didn’t want it to be a reaction to [‘The Vagina Monologues’],”added Schuster. The group sought to create a performance piece that goes beyond typical drama and touches upon subjects that are emotional and real.
Unbound decided to name their piece “Not Anonymous” to portray a sense of going behind the mask and seeing a performer as themself instead of as a role which they are playing.
“The experience [of working on “The Vagina Monologues”] itself prompted a lot of questions, which we then wanted to explore,” added Dave, “And we wanted to explore [those questions] through people’s own individual stories.”
Revved up and energized by their experiences working in “The Vagina Monologues”, the group sought to completely open up “Not Anonymous” to all members of the Vassar community. They reached out to a multitude of clubs and associations on campus in order to find a diverse group of performers and artists seeking to express themselves in a space that was completely new here at Vassar.
“We wanted to make sure we had representation from people who hadn’t necessarily been in a show before. We wanted to create a safe space for people to share their stories,” said Dave.
And by reaching out to many different campus groups, Unbound was able to open up auditions beyond the usual scope of drama kids or theater connoisseurs who tend to audition for theatrical pieces. The inclusionary character of the audition process was just one facet that makes “Not Anonymous” a unique production.
While auditions were being held for the collaborative piece, the organizers of “Not Anonymous” did not necessarily have a concrete idea of how the piece would pan out, but that was the entire point of creating it in the first place.
“Auditions drove this,” said Luksic. What the group was looking for was something they had not necessarily seen before and something that did not exclude any identity. They sought to address “the -isms”, as Schuster put it, which includes racism, sexism, classism and more.
“We wanted the cast, whom we eventually chose, to create the piece about what they needed to speak about or what they needed to speak to,” said Garcia.
After the audition process, Unbound ended up with a group of 10 artists, or as they asserted, 10 real people on campus speaking real truths. “The majority of our performers have never taken part in theater,” added Dave. “[They’re] all artists, but they range in their media of choice,” explained Schuster.
Tickets will be available all week long and sold at the Information Desk in the College Center.