Relations the Play Brings Covert Voices to the Forefront

Photos by Amelia Eskenazi

Last weekend, Colorado College students continued a CC tradition with the yearly performance of Relations. A play about relationships, sex, sexuality, gender, and race, Relations tackles “all things messy,” giving voice to the hard questions surrounding CC’s hook-up culture and topics that might be considered more sensitive. Who is included and excluded from CC’s hook-up culture? How do people’s identities alter their ability to participate? How does the unique culture of CC and our individual conversations shape the hook-up culture? These questions offer only a taste of all the topics addressed in the annual performance.

Written, directed, and performed by students, Relations began in 2009 and is performed every year during the second weekend of Block 8 in Taylor Theatre. “Though Relations might be an annual event, it is a play about everyday occurrences,” said 2017 Relations cast member, Ben Tweedy.

This year, juniors Nathan Makela, Baheya Malaty, and Alyssa Miller took on the role of directors, shaping the show to reflect CC student voices. Before writing or casting even begins, the Relations process kicks off with an open student survey asking important questions about CC’s hookup culture, sex, and relationships. By the end of Block 5, the cast is set and rehearsals begin. However, unlike a typical play, the Relations cast isn’t simply handed a script and told to memorize it. Instead, over the course of Blocks 6 and 7, the cast engages in critical discussions with each other and with professors like Heidi Lewis of the Gender and Feminist Studies department. The goal is to delve deep into each of Relations’ subjects while simultaneously learning how to respect various identities and the nuances of intimacy.

After an interactive process of listening, learning, and discussion, the script takes form. As a compilation of anonymous student submissions, cast member pieces, and survey responses, the short skits aim to cover a wide variety of subjects and present numerous interpretations of Relation’s primary topics. With script finalization taking place during Spring Break, the real performance rehearsals pick up just in time to be ready for opening night.

Along with the performance aspect of the event, Relations also includes a fundraising component: Audience members are encouraged to purchase raffle tickets for sex toys. All proceeds—which consistently surpass $500—benefit TESSA, a local non-profit working to end sexual and domestic violence.

This year’s Relations cast performed four times—selling out in three days—to a total cumulative audience of approximately 600 people. Although primarily made up of students, each night’s 150 audience members also included CC faculty and staff. For those interested in being a part of the 2018 Relations performance cast or production, look for more information at the beginning of second semester next year.

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