Play Explores Colgate’s Sexual Climate


“This is Not a Play About Sex,” directed by junior Charity Whyte and produced by senior Emily Hawkins, is a play written by Christina Liu ’13 that focuses on educating Colgate students about the sexual climate at Colgate University. There were three performances last weekend on October 3 through October 5. New and experienced cast members performed in the 24 separate stories that came from anonymously conducted interviews gathered while Liu was a student. Before the show, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Scott Brown addressed the audience about partaking in the anonymous sexual climate surveys that would be filled out pre- and post-show, helping the university evaluate its current sexual climate.

The opening scene called “Sex Love Kayaks” consisted of all the cast members making various remarks that related to different aspects of sex. Sophomore Grace Thomas performed the first monologue, titled “Let’s Play Questions,” which shamelessly shed light on women’s mentality toward sex. Afterwards, two more girls joined the scene and it seamlessly transitioned into a discussion about female masturbation, working to eliminate the misconceptions and taboos about it. “Dick-tations and Teste-monials,” and its counterpart “Vag-ographies and Tit-orials,” gave comical insights into men and women’s thoughts about their respective anatomies. Senior Andrew Prieto delivered a monologue confessing an inability to be physically attracted to a girl if he wasn’t emotionally attracted to her; he was quite happy to portray the idea of emotional commitment. 

“A lot of the other monologues and conversations were talking about how [relationships] don’t really exist at Colgate,” Prieto said.  “It was nice for me to be that one voice that a relationship can work at Colgate.” 

Senior Nick Grunden and sophomore Caroline Hurwitz portrayed an openly gay male and closeted lesbian character, respectively, to discuss the difficulties homosexual students face when navigating Colgate’s sexual culture. In the scene “You Can Use This As A Manual,” junior Sofia Estay humorously gave bulleted, somewhat genuine advice for hooking up at Colgate, such as expecting respect and the importance of communication.

There was a powerful scene, titled “After Hours,” depicting a lack of bystander intervention. Depicted on a Colgate Cruiser ride, an unacquainted male repeatedly verbally attacked a young woman with a derogatory slur and is shown assaulting her as the scene ends. 

Junior Niall Henderson had difficulties portraying the abusive character. 

“It’s kind of hard to distance yourself from that, but that’s what you have to do, you know?” Henderson said. “‘Cause it’s not me, it’s that character.”

After rehearsing the scene, Henderson would often sit in silence due to the emotions involved in the scene. As an audience member, first-year Maria Dasaclu explained she felt incredibly angry after seeing the incident performed. 

“I had to bite my tongue to keep from shouting at the guy,” Dascalu said. 

“I hope that the audience takes something significant away from this scene,” junior Brett Christensen, another bystander in the scene, said. “There should be zero tolerance for sexual violence or harassment.”

In the following monologue, sophomore Clare Schneider described struggles with helping a friend deal with being sexually assaulted. An acknowledgement of the serious issues and mentalities of fraternities was contrasted with senior Katie Philpott’s proclamation that she didn’t fall off, but jumped off the metaphorical train, meaning she no longer wished to participate in the hook-up culture. 

Although she was portraying a certain character in the play, Philpott felt a connection with her character. 

 “I don’t really think I was acting in that scene by any means, I meant every word and felt every emotion,” Philpott said. “The combination of frustration, desperation and resignation in response to the hook-up culture here are very real and overwhelming feelings.” 

A quick comical complaint that there are no ugly people, only stupid ones, at Colgate helped lighten the mood. There was discussion about the issues that transgender people face on campus and in life, such as pronoun identifications on legal forms, expensive surgeries or hormone therapy and society’s gender roles, and a skit, portrayed by sophomore Michael James, explaining the struggles of a transsexual person. The final scene was Whyte and Hawkins splitting a monologue explaining the play’s origin. The play is meant to help society become unstuck; people must move to make change and create the world they want. Comments from junior Kegan Thompson show the play is fulfilling its purpose.

“I saw the play last year as a sophomore, and I thought it was amazing,” Thompson said.  “However, I appreciate it more this year because I have had another year of experiencing and understanding the environment at Colgate. I think the play has a healthy impact on Colgate’s sexual climate. It promotes knowledge and understanding about different perspectives on campus. By doing this, the play benefits everyone at Colgate. Seeing all my friends involved in the process makes me want to try helping out with the production next year.”