The recent and much buzzed about theatre production on campus titled, “A New
Devised Work in Collaboration with Tim Miller,” involved personal narratives,
self-introspection and nudity.
With the support of a
world-renowned performance and provocateur, Tim Miller, and Katherine Moller, a
Fort Lewis College professor, the FLC theater department put this piece known as
Miller came to the students with a prompt that
provoked students and Moller to think about what constitutes differences between
humans, and two weeks later, Guts was created, Shan Wells, Media Coordinator of
the Theatre Department said.
With only two weeks to prepare and
heavily based on improvisation, the students developed a 55 minute performance
that revealed more than just their interpersonal stories and struggles, said
Austin Minard, a freshmen at FLC studying theatre.
“Guts” was a
devised work, meaning a creation from scratch. Devised pieces are typically very
personal and put together in a short amount of time, Elkins
Minard performed in “Guts” and described the experience as
Minard’s piece focused on societies expectations
of people and societal constraints that limit people’s potential. He wanted to
break down those barriers and take a stand for himself and
“We look at ourselves in the mirror, and we sometimes
can’t stand how we look. We think we are disgusting, but we are not. We are
human. We are not Sims, so why not accept who we are?” Minard
“How can I get this point across? Towards the end of my
piece, I saw this vision and a few others taking off our clothes saying, ‘This
is me!’ You can’t go any deeper. It doesn’t go deeper than the skin,” Minard
At the end of his piece, Minard unrobed and stated the
following, “I am Austin Lee Minard, and this is who I am.”
other actors and actresses unrobed behind him as well and stated their names
while boldly looking into the audience, Minard said.
important part of Austin’s piece was not in the disrobing but the robing because
what they did was bare their souls physically, in a way, but also claimed their
identity,” said Dennis Elkins, chair of the theatre department. “As they started
putting their clothes back on, they claimed their name again, which was the most
The sold out Roshong Recital Hall consisted of
mostly students, which is rare for FLC productions, and there was an
overwhelming turnout that led to about 60 people sitting on the floor of the
theatre, Minard said.
A friend of Minard’s saw the performance
and sent him a text later on sharing her time at the show.
text said, “I’m like you. I’m not like you. ‘Guts’ was the most amazing
emotional experience I’ve ever been a part of since my time in
rehab. That was unbelievable. I wish everyone in the audience
had been in a place to accept it, but either way, I am honored to have been a
part of tonight’s journey. For one hour we were all just walking each other
There was no backlash or criticism for the nudity and
content of the piece that Minard, Elkins, or Wells knew
People were hugging each other and the actors and actresses.
They were laughing, crying and emoting an intense response to the performance,
including gratitude and self-reflection, Minard said.
overwhelming positive responses for the performance both shocked and excited the
actors and actresses. When stripping down to the nude and exposing internal
struggles like child abuse, bullying and self-doubt the risk is high, said
Elkins and the theatre department faculty focus on the
integrity of the students, the safety and healthy respect of them, as well as
the stories they are telling.
The hardest challenge about being
in a theatre department in an academic setting is continuously pushing the
expectations of the community and broadening their experiences all without
offending anyone, Elkins said.
“Sun and Room” was another recent
FLC theatre production that involved actors and actresses stripping down to
their underwear, Elkins said.
If the story is better told
with nudity and or profanity than those elements may exist in the performance,
but if the message of the story is being compromised, then they simply will not
include that, Elkins said.
Miller thought the FLC students were
incredibly brave and daring to strip down and share their personal endeavors,
“If we can encourage our students to be bold and make
bold mistakes, they can change the world,” Elkins said.
theatre department always forewarns their potential audience about any content
that may be objectionable, such as profanity and nudity, but ultimately it is at
the discretion of the individual to watch the performance, Wells
“This performance was not sexualized, although it was about
sex in a lot of ways, but it was not pornographic or risqué. It was about taking
risks. It is artistic expression,” Wells said.
Many people came
with the intrigue of seeing their peers’ strip down to nothing, but they left
with a different perspective and an appreciation for the content of the piece,
“When you infantilize the body by making nudity
about sex only, you destroy and muddy what it means to be intellectually awake,”
Wells personally would give “Guts” an R rating, for
nudity and some profanity and because the content was meant for adults and
created by adults.
“There is an ethical aspect to rating plays
because you do not want to offend anyone. Theatre is meant to educate, and
reveal a beautiful form of expression.” “Guts” particularly is not meant to be
risqué or salacious, Wells said.
“This is what adults do. We
explore. This is what artists do. We explore. And, there are no boundaries to
this, but when boundaries are put up, you make bad art,” said
By performing an organic and honest piece of work, Minard
said that a door has been opened for FLC students and their interest in theatre
on campus. He hopes that more devised pieces will happen in the
“Guts” will be performing its last show March 9 at 7:30 p.m.
and 9:30 p.m. in the Gallery, which is located in the Theatre building, it will be
$5.00 for all patrons, Minard said.
For a glimpse into the performance, here is the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1eiiiM9zcQ