Auditions for new play tonight

SYDNEY HAUER, Staff Writer

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The concept of masculinity and its relationship to violence has recently been the topic of many fervent public discussions.

UNI graduate student Ryan Courtney will be tackling this subject in a play he has written and will direct, titled “Boys Will Be Boys.” The play will run from March 2 through March 4 and will be held in the Interpreter’s Theater in Lang Hall.

Anyone is welcome and encouraged to audition. The first audition day already occurred this past Tuesday, but a second will be held tonight, Jan. 12, at 7 p.m. in the Interpreter’s Theater.

The play will feature several different storylines that involve subject matter such as sexual assault and gun violence.

Courtney hopes to shed light on the topic of masculinity and what it means to “be a man” by traditional societal standards and how that can be potentially harmful. The different storylines will loosely connect and will feature a variety of dialogic scenes, narrative and poetry.

“[The play] just raises a lot of questions,” Courtney said. “I don’t really have the answers to them, but I want to kind of expose those ideas to people – get them thinking about it.”

Courtney received his undergraduate degree in communications at UNI and is now in the Communication Studies and Performance Studies graduate program. He has been involved with the speech team for all six years that he has been at UNI and hopes to eventually work for a college or university and coach a speech team of his own.

“I want to help students find their voice and develop arguments and stuff like that,” Courtney said about his future plans.

He was inspired to write “Boys Will Be Boys” after taking a gender studies class during his senior year of his undergraduate career.

“I found it very eye-opening,” Courtney said. “I found it very surprising that it’s not a required course in any way.”

Courtney said that the topic of masculinity was something he had wanted to talk about for a while but wasn’t sure exactly how.

“I’m really interested in the idea of talking about masculinity because I think so often when we talk about gender, it’s looked at […] how it affects women – which it definitely does!” Courtney said. “But we kind of overlook how it affects men.”

Courtney said that the main idea for the title of the play came from the Brock Turner Stanford rape case last year.

In that case, Turner, a student athlete at Stanford, was convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault after assaulting an unconscious woman. Turner was ultimately sentenced to six months in jail and was released early after three months, according to a CNN article last September.

“Just looking at the discussion that was surrounding that, that’s kind of where I was getting that idea of the phrase ‘Boys Will Be Boys,’”  Courtney said. “We basically just brush it off as normal because we don’t know how else to react to it, and so that was something I was really interested in.”

A number of students showed up to the first audition, which was held on Tuesday night.

“I’m just auditioning because it sounded fun,” said Noah Lucy, freshman digital media production major. “I used to be [a] theater major, but now I’m not. So it just seems like something I kind of want to try now that it’s not a requirement for a major.”

Justin McDermott, freshman elementary education major, was also present at Tuesday night’s auditions.

“I just wanted to audition because I was really involved with my theater in high school, and then I saw this opportunity,” McDermott said. “I’m also on the UNI cheer team and so I wanted not a huge production, but like a smaller one that I would be able to be involved with.”

Twelve students will ultimately be chosen for the play’s cast some time after tonight’s auditions. Although he says that the production will not require a significant time commitment from cast members, Courtney discussed how he hopes his play will challenge his actors to engage in a new way of thinking.

“I am a big believer in the fact that theater and performances should be for more than just entertainment,” Courtney said. “I think it’s a way of making an audience think about something, but also making the performer think about something in a new way, and step into somebody else’s shoes – or step back into your own life and think about it in a new way.”

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