(featurecreature)– This coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday, The Women of Amherst will be performing an original show entitled, On Stage(s), a series of monologues written by female students. All the stories are true and all of them reveal aspects of life at Amherst that are foreign to those who know us primarily as students. We join the Women of Amherst casts before us in hoping that the Amherst College staff and faculty will join students in celebrating, considering, and reflecting upon the stories submitted.
However, we feel that the sharing of these narratives is more crucial now than ever before. In light of the conversation about sexual respect that consumed campus this year, our community learned the importance of minding the gap between Amherst as we expect it to be and Amherst as it is in actuality. We’d like to believe that the communities in which we settle are invulnerable to crises that plague society at large. But this past year, we learned that “Objects in Mirror are Closer than They Appear.” Side view mirrors advise drivers to not overestimate the distance between their car and those behind them. Amherst students’ experiences teach us to reconsider the space between our community and the dangers we know are present elsewhere but deem far behind us and personally irrelevant.
The community’s presence at On Stage(s) symbolizes a willingness to continue learning about students’ lives and, in turn, the current landscape of Amherst. Attending the show conveys a strong message of support for the student body and the female student body in particular; a sentiment that was expressed strongly in the fall but dwindled in the face of life’s daily responsibilities and rhythms. We can proactively resurrect the care for students as whole, multifaceted people that our community so beautifully displayed last semester.
The Women of Amherst lost its faculty advisor, Gretchen Krull, this past fall, and with her an invaluable role model and a sense of being recognized for doing meaningful work. The significance of our task of collecting and performing an original play about saddening and silly topics alike, while simultaneously orchestrating a fundraiser for a local women’s shelter, has not changed. Neither has the joy we derive from honoring diverse experiences and otherwise untold stories. What has changed is the context in which we operate. Rather than benefiting from unyielding support from a member of the administration, the cast has struggled to be heard. Requests for a new advisor were overlooked, funding was denied multiple times, and emails asking for help from faculty went unanswered. We recount these frustrations not to lay blame on anyone or to conjure guilt in hopes it will translate into ticket reservations, but as a way of illustrating the concrete impact of inert good intentions.
It is important to note that the Women of Amherst show is by the Women of Amherst, not for them. Anyone and everyone are invited to come, regardless of gender, degree of involvement in the community, and extent of perceived related experiences. The show reflects a myriad of stories that relate to countless universal sentiments; if you’ve gone through an awkward phase, worried about a friend, or even just thought about sex, you’ll find pieces to relate to.
All across campus, 2012’s willingness to help, the desire to understand and know students, and the inclination to listen has weakened and slowed. The success of On Stage(s) would remind Amherst that change does not happen overnight and true awareness of women’s issues outlive a single semester.
This guest post was written by On Stage(s) directors Lilly Jay, Germaine Habell, and Abigail Bliss. The event is April 5 and 6 at 8:00 pm and April 7 at 3:00 pm in the Red Room in Converse Hall. You can reserve tickets online at womenofamherst.eventbrite.com.