Violence in theater will be discussed at the University

Alfredo Aparicio/Staff Writer

The ethical implications of violent acts in theatre will be at the forefront of Stephen Di Benedetto’s lecture, an associate professor in the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Miami, on Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. in the Green Library 220.

The topic of violence emerged from a conversation that Michael Patrick Gillespie, the director of Center for Humanities in an Urban Environment, had with Seth Boren, CEO of the Sister Emmanuelle Hospital. Boren helped bring Sister Helen Perjean to the University, with the Genesis Foundation, during last year’s lectures on the death penalty.

“Every year, I try to sponsor one or two themed events,” said Gillespie. “Seth [Boren] said it would be interesting to do something involving the violence in rap lyrics, but I wanted something bigger and more inclusive.”

Gillespie decided to discuss theatre and graphic images specifically because of its strength as expanding media.

“Theater is something that everyone is familiar with, and there is a strong theatre scene in South Florida. I felt that music might be too exclusive, depending on genre, but everyone goes to the theater or has, at least, read plays,” said Gillespie.

The lecture is a continuation of a Sept. 12 panel discussion on representations of violence in the theatre, which featured Joe Adler, producing artistic director of the GableStage, Daniel Castellanos, a professor and founding chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, Phillip M. Church, an associate professor in the Department of Theatre, and Christine Dolen, drama critic of the Miami Herald.

“I was very glad this semester that we were able to have the panel discussion off campus,” said Gillespie. “It was a risk, in terms of audience, but the support has been great. We were able to have a wide range of panelists who each brought something different to the discussion and who are busy but continue to support us. The faculty and students who go and encourage others have also made this a great experience, as well as the administration who has given me the freedom to develop the center.”

The location has also provided CHUE with the opportunity to expand its conversations with the community, which forms a part of one of its central missions.

“We don’t try to act like missionaries, but rather it’s about being aware of how many people have a great deal to say that aren’t part of the university community, and this was their chance to present their views and exchange ideas,” said Gillespie.

The panel also generated discussions on the different representations of violence and the difference between staged violence and violence experienced in everyday life.

“What was really striking were the questions people had about the effects of representations of violent behavior in film, games, theater, etc.,” Gillespie said. “It’s not a topic I want to dismiss, but it needs to be put into context: violence has been a part of us forever, since the Greek play. When you go into a museum. you can see very graphic images that are now revered as great works of art.”

The upcoming lecture will provide a new opportunity for community integration by welcoming everyone back, those who attended the panel discussion as well as anyone new that wishes to attend.

“It’s a good idea to have exchanges with students and faculty and be able to hear from the community at the same time,” Gillespie said. “[CHUE] wants to continue to expand, and we are taking it one step at a time.”

Channel WPBT 2 will be in attendance, recording the lecture, which will be available through within the week in the archives section.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

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