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Students produce play on alcohol, hookup culture

Communication+sophomore+Allie+Levitan+and+Communication+freshman+Reed+Lancaster+appear+in+%E2%80%9CWhite+Girl+Wasted%2C%E2%80%9D+which+opens+at+Zeta+Beta+Tau+on+Thursday.+The+play+brings+up+issues+of+drinking+and+consent+in+sex%2C+which+producer+and+Communication+junior+Russell+Kahn+hopes+students+will+discuss+after+the+show.+
Communication sophomore Allie Levitan and Communication freshman Reed Lancaster appear in “White Girl Wasted,” which opens at Zeta Beta Tau on Thursday. The play brings up issues of drinking and consent in sex, which producer and Communication junior Russell Kahn hopes students will discuss after the show.

Communication sophomore Allie Levitan and Communication freshman Reed Lancaster appear in “White Girl Wasted,” which opens at Zeta Beta Tau on Thursday. The play brings up issues of drinking and consent in sex, which producer and Communication junior Russell Kahn hopes students will discuss after the show.

Source: Russell Kahn

Source: Russell Kahn

Communication sophomore Allie Levitan and Communication freshman Reed Lancaster appear in “White Girl Wasted,” which opens at Zeta Beta Tau on Thursday. The play brings up issues of drinking and consent in sex, which producer and Communication junior Russell Kahn hopes students will discuss after the show.

Madeline Fox, Reporter

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Northwestern students this weekend will bring drinking, partying and sex to a fraternity house — in the form of a play.

Communication junior Russell Kahn, producer of “White Girl Wasted,” which opens Thursday at the Zeta Beta Tau house, doesn’t want the show to be misinterpreted. The play, which follows three high school students and one college sophomore throughout the course of a year, deals with relationships, sex and the role of alcohol in both.

“We’re doing a show called ‘White Girl Wasted’ about drinking and partying in a frat house,” Kahn said, “so we wanted to make sure people don’t come here and make the mistake of thinking this is glorifying senseless drinking.”

Discussions hosted by Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators will follow several of the performances, which run this weekend and next weekend.

Kahn said he felt it was important to have a facilitated discussion to allow audience members to debrief the complex themes of the show, so he reached out to SHAPE.

“We brought in SHAPE to look at scenes in the play and analyze how characters deal with the gray area of consent when you’re drunk because they have so much experience both creating dialogues about those issues on campus and also seeing them take place,” he said.

Russell and director Anjali Nath chose the fraternity house setting to make the story more immediate for viewers, Nath said.

“I felt that putting it in a theater or trying to find a theater space would forcibly distance it from the audience too much,” said Nath, a Communication junior. “We settled on doing it in ZBT, Russell’s fraternity, because it allowed for a much more intimate connection to the characters and to their stories.”

Grace Gabel, events marketing chair for SHAPE, said performing the play in ZBT also connects the show to the larger issue of party culture on campus.

“I think it’s really exciting to have this conversation happening in a place where then, later that night or next weekend, someone might be at a party or hooking up with someone or in a place that looks the same,” Gabel, a Communication senior, said. “By coming to see this performance, it really gets people thinking about how they relate to these characters.”

Although most of the characters are in high school, Kahn said issues brought up in the play, such as sexual assault, unhealthy relationships, and drinking and party culture, will resonate with NU students.

“Because I think a lot of people at Northwestern, like the characters in this play, do come from privileged backgrounds and we’re all pretty intelligent, people could make the mistake of saying that we don’t make stupid mistakes when it comes to alcohol,” Kahn said. “But we still do, and that’s why I think ‘White Girl Wasted’ needs to be shown here.”

Gabel said she hopes “White Girl Wasted” will open up more dialogue on campus about sexual assault, unhealthy relationships and consent by giving students the tools to talk about them.

“I don’t think we always have the right language to talk about hooking up or dating culture or even our feelings, and so I think this is a really exciting play to have at NU because it’s starting a dialogue that isn’t always created,” she said. “By coming to see this performance, it really gets people thinking about how they relate to these characters and makes them reflect upon their own lives.”

Email: mfox17@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @MadelineFox14

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