On Thursday, Nov. 1, Keene State College will hold auditions for its spring production of “No Zebras, No Excuses.” A 10-year tradition at Keene State, “No Zebras” is a production put on for all new KSC students during Orientation to teach students about sexual violence and assault.
The production began when founder Forrest Seymore, who works in the Counseling Center to coordinate sexual violence prevention programs, partnered with director Peggy Rae Johnson of the Theatre Department to bring the production to life after several sexual assault cases occurred on campus and found their way into the local newspapers.
Aware that the previous coordinator of sexual violence prevention had purchased the rights to the “No Zebras, No Excuses” script, Seymore decided to take action and come together with the Theatre Department to make the production happen. Since, the production has not only educated and impacted thousands of KSC students, but brought in people from around the country and even worldwide.
The importance of “No Zebras” cannot be understated. Created to make a difference, help keep people safe, and intervene in a timely issue, the production both raises awareness on a serious subject matter and influences all of those who witness and participate in it.
“It’s a great production to be in,” stated Tony Gentile, a KSC senior and Orientation Leader who has acted in the production multiple times, “And one of the most impactful parts of the orientation process … I think it’s really important because it’s a volunteer production — we aren’t getting credit or compensation or anything … It’s a lot of work in a short period of time — we have about three to four rehearsal days, usually nine hours a day, so it’s a lot of work, but I keep coming back to it when I can because it’s really important to me and Keene State.”
Actors in the production must participate in four twelve-hour rehearsals, in which they receive extensive stage combat training to handle the physicality of the show.
When casting, director Peggy Rae looks for strong actors who can portray and handle the difficult subject matter, and a group of people who will work together.
Stage Manager Tony DaRosa has also seen the impact the show can make, remarking: “I’ve only done it for two performances, but I’ve already seen the impact the show makes. Since I’ve done it, students have emailed the director Peggy Rae Johnson multiple times saying how meaningful the show was to them.”
“I think it’s such an important show, especially in our time,” he continued. “I just want the students to get out of it even half as much as we put in … I just feel like what we are seeing is such an important thing. This stuff does happen and it’s important to listen to.”
“No Zebras, No Excuses” is no ordinary production.
“It’s designed to set a tone and and expectation for us as a community that we are going to be on the watch for sexual violence and stand up as active bystanders,”– Forrest Seymore, founder of “No Zebras, No Excuses.”
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