This season we overhauled our extremely popular No Secrets program. Many schools share these valuable Erin’s Law performances with their students year after year, so we wanted to provide audiences with fresh new scenes.
In addition to updated scripts, we launched a follow up classroom visit for 6-8th grade to review themes and provide another opportunity for discussion.
Recently, I sat in the back of a 7th grade class to watch as one of our expert facilitators, Sean Sullivan, lead students through a fantastic discussion about consent. The students were all in agreement at first, but as the scenarios they were responding to became more complex, the opinions in the room became more varied and, at times, quite passionate. The class responded to one scenario in which an actor agrees to sex only after being pressured by their partner, by all talking at once, insisting, without listening, that the scenario represents either consent or a lack thereof.
Sean recognized the mood in the room as an enthusiasm for discussion and engaged every student in a respectful dialogue, that heard opinions, validated feelings, and challenged misconceptions. The atmosphere in the room changed in reaction to this facilitated discussion. Students stopped talking out of turn and began listening to other interpretations while allowing their own beliefs to be challenged.
In the end, the class understood that consent must be freely given and that can only happen in the absence of pressure.
After the cast left, I stayed a while to listen to students’ reactions. The one word that I heard most often was ‘important.’ Nearly everyone voiced that it is important to talk about consent, that it is important to talk to each other, or simply that it is important to talk about difficult subjects.
We at Imagination Theater agree; it is incredibly important that we talk to each other.
All of our programs feature facilitated discussions. To learn more, as always, visit us at www.imaginationtheater.org.
— Jeremy Schaefer, Artistic Director.