Student performance to explore gender, clothing
For the past several months, Chelsea Roberts has dedicated much of her time to exploring and experimenting with gender.
The presentation focuses on how gender can be socially constructed through an individual’s clothing, and it will involve movement, audio effects, dressing and undressing.
“It’s not a lecture, it’s a performance piece,” Roberts said. “It doesn’t necessarily conform to what we’re used to thinking of. It’s more postmodern, (and) it’s got a different style to it.”
Roberts said the idea that gender is taught to people by the society in which they live, and the fact that high heels, bras, ties and suits all have certain implications are concepts she has been interested in for a long time.
Through her performance, which she is doing as a final project for an independent study within the Department of Theatre, Roberts said she hopes to encourage attendees to take a closer look at these notions and analyze them in their own way.
“I wanted people to be able to attend (my event) and enjoy themselves, and maybe if they’re challenged by the material, that can be a positive experience,” she said. “It’s a lot more about creating a space for people to look at something in a different context (and explore) something that they might not usually think about.”
Assistant theatre professor Melissa Thompson, who has been Roberts’ adviser for this project, said she instantly was interested in the idea because she specializes in body theory and gender studies.
Thompson discussed research ideas with Roberts, provided her with feedback and tried to point her in the right direction. As someone who has been watching over Roberts throughout the entire process, Thompson said she is impressed with what she has come up with.
“I wouldn’t have expected going into it that this was the performance that would come out of it,” she said. “That’s always an exciting thing to see, when young artists can surprise you with things.”
Rather than writing a paper to finalize her research, Roberts said she decided to turn her work into a more personal performance piece because of the content of her project.
“The nature of the topic is so focused on the body and things we put on the body, so to realize it in a performance makes a lot more sense,” she said.
Thompson said she was pleased that Roberts decided to finalize her work using a more creative medium, which is not something many students do.
“For Chelsea and where she was going with (her assignment), I think it’s more beneficial that she ended up with a performance,” Thompson said. “Creating a performance of this type presented a new challenge to her as an artist as well as challenges to her as a scholar.”
(SCENE) Metrospace Director Tim Lane said he always is looking to showcase up-and-coming artists at his venue, and he looks forward to seeing Roberts’ performance.
“(SCENE) is a great place for young actors or young writers to try out some of their material or some of the productions they’re working on,” he said.
Lane said Roberts’ small performance is different from the more involved, bigger-scale shows community members have become accustomed to seeing, and he is happy to host the unique event.
“There’s a lot of larger theatrical performances in the community, so I think it’s great to be having a smaller performance,” he said. “(SCENE)’s a good venue for a one-person show or a one-act performance.”