The twists & turns of Down There

This year’s Down There performance is up there with best drama productions

Four performers during a group skit on “Netflix and Chill” in last week’s Down There production.
Photo: 
Bold, insightful and hilarious, this year’s production of Down There took audiences on an emotional rollercoaster.
 
The annual student-run production of monologues, poetry, dance and music was originally inspired by the Off-Broadway episodic play The Vagina Monologues. Each year, it tackles issues like sexuality, mental health, eating disorders, body image, racism and sexual orientation. 
 
From the content to the set’s aesthetics, this year’s show in Theological Hall’s Reading Room was a spectacle for the eyes and ears.
 
The cast performed a series of monologues with occasional comedic interludes. The powerful and unapologetic monologues created a respectful and open environment, while the comedy provided moments to recharge before the next swing of emotions.
 
As I watched, I didn’t want to miss a moment of the performers’ stories of struggle and resilience. Theatrical accompaniments — the words stood out on their own. 
 
Down There is extremely personal. The production’s first monologue addressed moving past an eating disorder and loving your body. 
 
Other monologues focused on sexual fluidity, unhealthy relationships, losing your virginity, experience as a minority and 
sexual assault. 
 
Even in a one-on-one environment, sharing such personal stories isn’t always easy. Down There’s performers, however, delivered their emotionally-charged pieces with confidence. 
 
Down There director Kathryn Blaikie, ArtSci ’16, said boldly sharing experiences of vulnerability was one of the production’s strongest themes. 
 
“A theme that arose was vulnerability as a strength and not a weakness,” she said.
 
The set was themed with delicate floral patterns, soft colours and whimsical drawings of bare trees on brown craft paper. The performers wore denim and darker colours, which stood out against the softer backdrop. 
 
Some performers wrote their own pieces, while others performed submissions from other students. Regardless, the confident delivery of the pieces in Down There created a positive space for the performers, audience and student writers. 
 
Blaikie said the cast and crew met every Sunday to talk about a different topic, which helped them get comfortable with each other and allowed conversation to flow naturally. 
 
“When we talked about sex and sexuality, we ended up talking about blow jobs for like half an hour,” Blaikie said. “So, we really go wherever it can go.”
 
Blaikie added that the comedic segments gave the audience a break between the show’s heavier segments.
 
“It can be a rollercoaster when you don’t know what to expect,” Blaikie said. “Having a piece that is purely comedic … the audience [knew] that when she came out they could laugh.”

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