Her summer research stretches from the federal statute that covers sexual violence at schools to the stories of survivors of that violence. Bridget Lavin ’18’s goal is to create a performance that is a platform for survivors to speak out. Her focus is survivors of on-campus sexual violence.
The survivors themselves will not appear in the production; it is Lavin’s challenge to convey their stories with fidelity through a genre know as documentary or verbatim theatre.
“Verbatim theatre is wholly based on truth: true stories, true words, true experiences, which makes it even more impactful and suited toward making social change through art,” Lavin explains. Positive change is what she’s after.
Majors: Theatre and Women's Studies
Hometown: Manhasset, N.Y.
High School: Manhasset High
A grant from Hamilton’s Levitt Center is funding the project. Lavin, who majors in theatre and in women’s and gender studies, began her research at the end of her study abroad in England. She studied drama at Queen Mary, University of London, where she learned about socially active theatre. Inspired to go beyond the theoretical, Lavin applied for the Levitt grant to create her own theatre.
The first five weeks of her research were academic: reading and analyzing verbatim theatre pieces, burrowing into Title IX, the sexual violence statute, and searching out examples of other ways tell survivors’ stories. After that, Lavin returned to the U.S. to interview sexual assault survivors on NESCAC campuses, including Hamilton.
“I think one thing that's really important to think about when working on verbatim theatre is that there are potential ethical implications,” Lavin says. “I'll have to be very conscious that I am speaking with my participants, allowing their voices and perspectives to be shared, rather than speaking for them, and manipulating their words to further a political narrative.”
She will perform her piece on campus during the academic year, giving voice to survivors through monologue.