by, Jilleen Barrett & Zoe Defazio, A&E Editor & Staff Writer
Manhattan College Players performed their annual V-Day production titled “Who are my people? Where is my rage?” directed by seniors Camryn Kidney and Maren Kain in honor of victims of sexual assault and other gender-based crimes. Viewers were able to stream the show via Twitch on Feb. 15, the day after Valentine’s Day.
Camryn Kidney, one of the directors of the production, opened the show by reminding viewers what the point of their performance was.
“V-Day is a movement started by Eve Ensler to end violence against women and girls. This year in our production of V-Day, we chose to focus on the intersections of misogyny and sexual violence with racism misogyny, homophobia and capitalism,” she said.
One of the performers was Jennifer Bueti, a senior, who read the first poem of the night titled “A Letter to White Queers, A Letter to Myself” by Andrea Gibson. This poem referenced the murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student from Wyoming who was the subject of “The Laramie Project,” which the Players performed last semester.
“I’m writing to tell you that I do not remember where I was or how I felt when I heard this. For a lot of our community, 1998 was the year only Matthew Shepard died,” she said. “I’m writing to tell you, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking, who are my people?”
Kidney’s co-director Maren Kain explained the process of assigning poems to the performers.
“We sent all of those monologues and everything to everybody who auditioned for the show and they sent us back pieces that spoke to them, spoke to their own experience, so that we made sure people were speaking about something that was important to them so they would be excited about the project but also to respect the integrity of the monologues and pieces that we chose,” she said. “We didn’t want people speaking to an experience that they couldn’t relate to. That was something that was really important to us, but also making sure that people were feeling empowered in this space and speaking to things that were important to them that they felt excited to perform.”
Kidney spoke about how delicate the subject matter is and how she and Kain tried to ensure that all of the actors reciting the poems were comfortable.
“We wanted this to be a safe space for everybody involved because we were talking about issues that are very personal towards others and it could be difficult to approach due to people having experienced violence and oppression,” Kidney said.
When discussing the reasoning behind the desire to put on a performance with such extreme topics, Kidney expressed her feeling that more people should be made aware of the issues surrounding the violence that is driven by discrimination.
“There’s this disbelief that situations like this don’t occur and having a cast that went through these scenarios and have them read these pieces themselves revealed how personal these issues are and that they do in fact happen,” she said.
It was important to Kidney that the performance was done tastefully and respected both the original authors of the poems as well as the students interpreting them.
“We wanted people to know that we were never going to make them talk about a subject that they said that they felt uncomfortable with,” she said. “We made sure that people were reading pieces that they felt comfortable with. We made sure everyone’s voices were heard. I also wanted to make sure that the audience was aware of what was going to be discussed in the show.”
One of the more memorable poems was “I Think She Was a She” by Leyla Josephine and recited by Deirdre O’Leary, an adjunct professor in the department of music and theater, who made a powerful statement against those who attempt to judge female bodies.
“This is my body,” she said. “I don’t care about your ignorant views.”