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Act Like Me
A social change troupe shows how choices matter
By Priti Prabhakar '04

On a clear night at the end of August, the UNH campus is calm and serene. A few early-bird students are hauling beds into off-campus apartments. But near the Paul Creative Arts Center, a loud bang suddenly pierces the silence.

"Come on, baby, loosen up!" hollers Robin Fowler '09, as he lifts and slams down a stool in center stage. A dozen students circle around him. "She invited me into her room," yells Bartley Mullin '09. "She made a point to ask her roommate to leave. Come on, this is college!" Mullin stares angrily at Emily Briand '09, sitting a safe distance away. Katharine Mooney '09 delivers the punchline: "You think your dorm is a safe place, but something like 60 percent of all sexual assaults happen where the victim lives."

Briand and Mullin play the victim and perpetrator, respectively, in this sketch about sexual assault performed by WildActs, UNH's social change theater troupe. They'll reprise the sketch for the incoming freshmen the following week, along with additional scenarios covering alcohol, safety, eating disorders, homophobia, dating violence and making friends--issues that many students in the audience may find themselves facing in the coming months.

Founded in 2000, WildActs members initially worked with bought scripts, but since their second year, the students have been writing, producing and directing the show themselves, says adviser Michele Holt-Shannon, assistant director of the UNH Discovery Program. The troupe also works with theater professor David Kaye, who provides feedback on their method and training. Most important to the troupe, says Holt-Shannon, "is conveying the importance of things like taking care of each other, claiming their education, making the most of their time at UNH, being a part of the learning community, and that the choices they make matter."

Senior Mallory Triest saw the show as a freshman and later joined the troupe. "We're using theater as a means of education," Triest says, "which I think is one of its most powerful aspects as an art form."

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