Performance Helps New Students Navigate Human Differences, Social Positionality
Through a series of skits performed by new student orientation leaders, the Class of 2025 campus newcomers learned how they may experience power, privilege, and difference as they navigate different communities at Wesleyan.
Titled “I, You, (We)s,” the Sept. 2 performance, held during New Student Orientation, presented frequent challenges in community engagement and offered suggestions for engaging authentically, thoughtfully, and collaboratively.
“The goal of this program was to introduce new students to the topics and conversations that would be relevant during their time at Wesleyan,” explained Esme Maria Ng ’22, who co-wrote the scripts with fellow student playwright and “I, You, (We)s” actor Luna Dragon Mac-Williams ’22.
When writing skits for the program, Ng and MacWilliams based their pieces on their own individual strengths, interests, and stories.
“The biggest thing that came to mind is how my identity interacts with the mostly white, cishet, economically privileged environment around me,” Ng said. “Thus, my pieces were hoping to pose questions along the lines of ‘what is our responsibility to one another when we can’t understand one another?’ ‘How do we reconcile ourselves with the world around us, thinking especially about how/where our privilege places us in these spaces.'”
Ng and Mac-Williams worked on writing and editing the script for about a month this summer. Their revision process involved sharing the work with the actors and Wesleyan faculty and staff to ensure the script had a clear message and maintained historic and geographic accuracy.
Centering the principles of the Cardinal Community Commitment, the skits also addressed topics including racism, imposter syndrome, tokenization, navigating power dynamics, hierarchy, and Wesleyan-Middletown relationships.
The performance was directed by Marcella Trowbridge, artistic director of the local non-profit theater company ARTFARM. “I am delighted to be back at Wes as a guest artist working with students addressing current issues through theater,” Trowbridge said. “This is a new script and we hope it will become an annual part of New Student Orientation.”
The project was supported by a plethora of campus partners including the Center for the Arts, the Resource Center, the Sustainability Office, the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships, the Theater Department, the Allbritton Center, Student Activities and Leadership Development, Fries Center for Global Studies, and the Office of International Student Affairs.
Additional photos of the “I, You, (We)s” rehearsal on Aug. 31 are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)