Oh, the places we did go! - Tour Recap
This summer, 20 Speak About It educators hit the road for our annual college orientation tour. Adventures were had, memories were made, and thousands of college students nationwide (and in Canada!) saw our show and deepened their understanding of consent.
This was a landmark year for Speak About It’s annual orientation tour. We reached 39 colleges and universities, including a number of schools we visited for the first time and a number we’ve returned to for the seventh year in a row! In just under a month, we reached over 38,000 students with our programs. That’s 38,000 more people who know that yes means yes, that consent is necessary and sexy, and that they can take a role in their own community’s response to sexual assault.
In the Boston area alone, we were a part of orientation programs for twelve universities. That means if you go to a college party somewhere in Boston, more likely than not a student you meet will have seen Speak About It. That means its more likely there will be students at that party familiar with consent and bystander intervention. Sounds like a great party, doesn’t it?
Each of our four casts: Diamonds, Hearts, Spades, and Clubs, performed an average of 17 shows during their time together. On some days, we had four different performances at four different locations across the country. It’s pretty cool to think that college students thousands of miles apart now share a mutual language about consent and healthy sexuality.
Every school, every city, and every day brought new stories and memories. Casts spent hours in mini-vans crossing multiple state lines. One team discovered an underground restaurant in Memphis, with food so good it could cure motion sickness. Two casts engaged in an epic truth or dare game. In Illinois, one cast toured the Bean and Abe Lincoln’s birth place all in one day.
Touring as an educator with Speak About It is a great opportunity to travel the country and engage with people in communities different than one's own. But being on tour is hard: there are long journeys and late nights, there are emotional and difficult conversations with students, and days where doing the show is harder than others. Touring stretches our educators to be better collaborators and communicators and to learn how to take care of themselves and the people around them.
We hear it all the time from our educators: Knowing you have an impact every day on someone’s life can get you going for the early mornings, or help push you through a three-show day. Like any great challenge, when directed by an important mission, the work is deeply meaningful and worthwhile.
Scroll through and read some of our team's best tour stories and reflections below.
Liv Dumaine (left), Educator
“This has been some of the hardest and most fulfilling work I’ve ever done, and I loved every minute of it. There is so much heart in the room, in rehearsals, performances, and even car rides, it’s impossible to not to love everyone.
I distinctly remember our show at Bentley University, because there was such an effort to evoke a change on campus. Between the facilitation, in which all OL’s voiced knowledge of consent culture and the importance of the enthusiastic “yes”, to the posters in the bathroom advocating resources for survivors, to the willingness of the first years to listen and laugh along with us. Sometimes it’s difficult to not take it to heart when a few people disengage in a show, but it is so wildly rewarding to see an entire campus actively reinforcing the work that we also promote."
Chelsea Evered (center), Cast Manager, Hearts
“Touring with Speak About It is the hardest and most rewarding job I've ever had as an actor, and in general. It can be tough, especially as a manager, with the long days worrying about logistics and running on little sleep. But hearing student feedback and knowing that we are making a difference pulled me through every time. Besides my friendships with the other educators and having a blast on the road, I was most impacted by the conversations I had after the show with a wide range of students who all had different perspectives, including some that I didn't personally agree with. When we disagreed, instead of arguing, getting angry, or trying to convince the other person to change their views, we were able to start conversations and effectively communicate together which resulted in more understanding and learning. We're not just teaching people how to speak about it, we're giving people the tools to communicate with others about anything."
Oronde Cruger, Program Coordinator
"Part of what was so exciting about this tour, especially as we built a larger staff of educators, was the commitment we made to expand representation in our casts. Our actors have lots of different experiences and identities and more than ever we were able to put folks on stage who students felt reflected them. At a Speak About It show, students will see survivors, queer people, trans folks, people of color, biracial actors, straight educators, people who speak multiple languages, people who grew up outside of the United States, or who are the first in their family to finish college, and more. More than ever before the actors on stage more accurately represent the diversity of the students in the audience. And we can only continue improving this in the future.”
Megan MacKenzie, Cast Manager, Spades
"It's hard work and long hours, but none of that matters because it's just so much non-stop fun. No matter the situation, I am constantly energized by the impact of the work we do, the students we meet, the stories we hear, and the relationships that I have with my fellow cast-mates."
Speak About It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that partners with high schools and colleges to educate, entertain, and empower students to create positive change within their communities, advocate for and practice healthy relationship habits, and prevent sexual violence.
Copyright 2016 Speak About It, Inc. Website by Alexandra Valleau