Students tell all at UNISTA event


At 10 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21, the University of Northern Iowa Student Theatre Association (UNISTA) hosted “UNISTA Tells All!” in the Communication Arts Center. Audience members were invited to sign up right before the event began  to share an embarrassing story.

Around 30 students attended the event, many of them wearing pajamas.

“[UNISTA] thought it was a really interesting experience because sharing old diaries from middle school or love letters you wrote to a crush or a really embarrassing story—it’s cathartic,” said Zoe Sneed, a sophomore theatre performance and theatre for youth double major and UNISTA’s marketing director. “As people heavily involved in the arts, we believe in catharticism. That’s part of what the deep meaning of tonight is. Even though we’re all going to be wearing pajamas and eating popcorn and sharing silly stories, it’s got that essence of the theatre in it.”

“UNISTA Tells All!” was first held three years ago. The event was inspired by the documentary “Mortified Nation,” which is all about adults sharing embarrassing moments from their childhood and adolescence in front of an audience. Every year since then, students have asked UNISTA to bring back the event, according to UNISTA’s executive director Hannah Twitchell, a senior majoring in theatre performance.

“I feel like week five has been kind of rough for everyone,” Sneed said. “Especially in the [theatre] department right now, we have a lot of rehearsals and shows going on and monologues needing to be memorized and stuff like that. So [this is] just a night for people to come in their PJs to relax and do something fun, so they can get their minds off of that for a little bit.”

Everytime someone shared a story, they sat down in the “hot seat” in front of the room. Some of those sharing utilized the projector for pictures or videos, while others spontaneously decided they had a story they wanted to tell.

Some participants shared embarrassing videos from middle school, including a show choir performance and a clip from a high school musical production of “Anything Goes.”

The audience reacted loudly during a performance of an original rap about Severus Snape from Harry Potter. She said she wrote the rap as a high school freshman, inspired by the musical drama film “8 Mile,” starring Eminem.

One student shared her grandma’s Facebook post on the origin of liberals and conservatives, describing it as “a dramatic interpretation of the post that made me mute my grandma on Facebook.”

Another read four poems she wrote about an ex-girlfriend, each one representing one of the four seasons.

Some people shared embarrassing injury stories. One person recounted how she broke her arm while sledding down a hill on a radio flyer wagon. Another told the story of how she fell out of her mom’s car as a kindergartener and rolled down the street.

Twitchell hopes that UNISTA Tells All! becomes an annual event.

“I want UNISTA to have a big community event to be like, ‘That was really fun last year. I want to do that again,’” Twitchell said. “And the fact that it’s been three years since the last one happened and every year people are like, ‘Bring it back!’ So if we can make it annual, I don’t think it will ever get boring.”