Drama students put issues of lad culture and peer pressure in spotlight to support national campaign

Lad culture and peer pressure are being tackled in a powerful new drama being performed by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students this week.

The story of a fictional night out aims to show how inappropriate behaviour, sexist banter and sexual harassment all too often experienced by young men and women in society today. 
It is being shown tomorrow at the launch of The Mandala Project, DMU's commitment to supporting the national campaign to stamp out sexual violence and harassment at universities.

The first phase of the project – being run in partnership with De Montfort University Students’ Union (DSU) – aims to raise awareness of the services available to DMU students.

Tomorrow (Weds 7 December) Drama Studies students Stacey Brown, Callum Harris and Charlotte Batey will be appearing in the drama, written by playwright and DMU alumna Natalie Beech and directed by Brigitte Adela, who jointly run theatre company Written Foundations.

One of the storylines examines sexual harassment, peer pressure and misogyny on a fictional night out as students get involved in a drinking game. It aims to empower the audience to feel more confident about challenging uncomfortable situations before they escalate and promote a culture of respect.

Charlotte said: “I thought Written Foundations’ work was really good when I read their script, I saw they were hitting on a real topic that affects so many people. I want to be part of something that says, this is not OK.”

“We want people to see the drama and to feel able to challenge things that they see, and know they can speak up,” added Stacey.

“Using theatre to explore these issues allows us to break misconceptions of the 'types' of people such issues happen to or the idea of what the perpetrator may look like,” said Brigitte. "It allows us to help people recognise the signs that said issue is occurring, whether to themselves or people around them."

Playwright Natalie Beech added: "We're interested in creating issue-based theatre, because we feel it allows people to emotionally connect with an issue and see what it is like to experience it. Audiences come away with a different understanding than they would say from a news article or statistic."

Stacey and Charlotte have been researching the issue as part of their Popular and Political Theatre module, using case studies in the 2014 NUS report ‘That’s What She Said’ and ‘Changing the Culture’, published by Universities UK in October to create verbatim performance.

On the module, they also took part in workshops with Written Foundations to dramatise the real, lived experiences of by students of so-called 'Lad culture', misogyny and sexual harassment.

Roger Clegg, Senior Lecturer in Drama Studies, said: “The opportunity for students on the module to be involved in the launch of the Mandala Project is a great way for them to engage further with presenting theatre that speaks directly to, for and with the DMU community about these important issues.

“The extra-modular opportunity also offers the students a public stage on which to engage with professional practice, and is one of the many ways we seek to offer our Drama students learning opportunities that help to prepare them for life after graduation.”

The Mandala Project’s message is that sexual violence, harassment, misogynistic “banter” and abusive relationships has no place at DMU or any campus. We all have a part to play in ensuring that DMU’s campus is a safe, inclusive environment and to promote behaviour that respects everyone.

DMU has a team of trained professionals who are here to listen and to empower students to receive the very best support and help. We can help students to access medical support, counselling and work with specialist agencies who will be there to give clear information and advice.

Tomorrow’s event will be an opportunity to find out what action DMU is taking and how we can help if it happens to you - or someone you know - and how you can get involved. It starts in the Hugh Aston Atrium at 12, with the drama performance due to begin around 1.30pm in 0.08.
Posted on Tuesday 6 December 2016

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