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RISE: Working together to represent the female experience

February 4, 2022

With auditions for RISE, the performance of Bowdoin women’s stories, coming to a close, the leadership team looks forward to an in-person production they hope will make campus culture safer for women.

Khue Anh Tran ’25, a member of the RISE leadership team, was responsible for facilitating auditions with the rest of the RISE team on Sunday.

“With the [auditions] I’ve seen, there’s a lot of potential,” Tran said.

Tran said she believes that finding the balance between actor interpretation and remaining authentic to submissions is crucial for casting.

“It’s not like we can go up to the author and ask them to give us feedback about the performance,” Tran said. “But, we have to try our best to make sure that their message is being presented in a way that is as close to what we feel the author’s intention is.”

Adedunmola Adewale ’22 is in the unique position of having led both an in-person and virtual production of RISE. Having been part RISE since her first year at Bowdoin, she has witnessed the transformation of the performance from in-person, to virtual and back to in-person. She kept in mind what she learned from the virtual year during this year’s virtual auditions.

“With Zoom, it’s interesting, because you lose a lot of body language and important cues,” Adewale said. “All you have to work with is the face and the chest. So that has been interesting, but it hasn’t been a hindrance. We still get the information we need from the audition.”

Campus engagement with RISE has increased over the years, with submissions for this year increasing by more than half. Past student critiques of RISE have included concerns about limited stories of women of color on campus and heteronormativity in the story selections. Adewale believes that this year will be more inclusive.

“I feel like this year, we’re receiving stories about the nuances of sexual assault, sort of questioning it and finding the gray areas,” Adewale said. “We also have more stories about being Black on campus, which is exciting.”

Among these stories exists a wide range of perspectives, some of which have never been incorporated before in the history of RISE.

“This year, we got stories from staff,” Adewale said. “RISE has always been open to staff, but this year is the first time we’ve received staff submissions, so I’m excited about that.”

Historically, RISE has covered sensitive topics like sexual assault and sex discrimination. The RISE team hopes that following this semester’s production, the Bowdoin community can have more constructive conversations about the experience of being a woman.

“I’m trying to make people uncomfortable,” Adewale said. “I hope that people don’t watch it, leave and forget about it. I hope people interact with it.”

Tran shares similar sentiments and finds that she has learned more about the female experience through meeting other women and listening to their stories as part of RISE.

“Even though I am a woman, there are certain things I haven’t experienced and hardships I haven’t endured,” Tran said. “Reading these stories has helped me reflect on the fact that womanhood is not just one thing but a nuanced concept.”

RISE hopes that this production will further spread awareness about the female experience at Bowdoin.

“I really hope that through RISE, we can shape Bowdoin to be a better place and a safer community for women on campus,” Adewale said.


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