Iowa State Daily - December 11, 2003

Tough issue portrayed through humor
story image 1 Photo: Courtesy/Tom Norris
Members of local theater group Searching for Shakespeare will use humor to present a serious topic in "The Eight: Reindeer Monologues" at 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday at the M-Shop.

By Katie Piepel
Daily Correspondent
December 11, 2003

Local theater group Searching for Shakespeare knows a serious subject can be difficult to present. Using a little humor and charm, however, the organization is prepared to tackle the topic of sexual assault.

"The Eight: Reindeer Monologues" will be performed at the Maintenance Shop Friday and Saturday. Although the theater company normally produces more traditional pieces, the group has begun to branch out into different topics.

"Searching for Shakespeare primarily produces Shakespeare related pieces [such as] an annual show Labor Day weekend at Bandshell Park, but is also starting to produce lesser known shows," says Tom Norris, Searching for Shakespeare director.

"Outside of the organization's focus on Shakespeare, our motto is, 'More local theater is a good thing.'"

The Margaret Sloss Women's Center will be sponsoring "The Eight: Reindeer Monologues." Norris says their support has played a large role in the overall production of the show.

"Their sponsorship helped me get the show into the Maintenance Shop and also has helped me to focus more on what the show is about," Norris says.

"The Eight: Reindeer Monologues," written by Iowa-born director, actor and author Jeff Goode, is a play focusing on sexual assault. Santa's eight reindeer each share what they know about a sexual assault involving the jolly St. Nick. The reindeer also use the media spotlight to support their own messages on sexual assault.

Norris says the play is primarily based upon the different reactions people have to assault.

"The show is more about how people react to the assault, how they react to the media attention that is given to assaults involving celebrities and how people use the media spotlight in these situations than it is about the sexual assault," he says.

Allison Heckley, a cast member in the performance, says she enjoys being a part of Searching for Shakespeare.

"[I like] the people," says Heckley, graduate student in biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology. "Everyone involved in Searching for Shakespeare, and particularly in this show, loves theater. It is great to work with people who share your same interests and enthusiasms."

Norris says he feels the performance is a good opportunity to inform the public of the seriousness of sexual assault by using a lighter, comical side to attract attention.

"The show is incredibly funny," he says. "Even though there is nothing funny about assault, the show uses humor to point out the ways people react and hopefully spur some thought about how each of us reacts or might react to assault or harassment."

Heckley says she enjoys the script and thinks it is a clever way of presenting the material.

"[I like] the delectably, comical way the script is able to expose the potentially grotesque relationship between the media and very serious social perversions, such as rape," she says.