WMU News

"Great Sexpectations," opens 12th season

Oct. 11, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University's longest-running touring theatre presentation, the nationally recognized "Great Sexpectations," will open its 12th season with six performances next week.

The first performances of 2002 are Monday, Oct. 14, in Ackley-Shilling residence halls at 7 p.m. and in Britton-Hadley residence halls at 9 p.m. The tour includes performances on the WMU campus for 16 residence halls, the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, health and wellness classes, and the National Panhellenic Conference and Interfraternity Council. There will also be a performance Nov. 6 in Kalamazoo College's Stetson Chapel.

The complete schedule for "Great Sexpections" and more information about the program is available on the Web at <www.wmich.edu/greatsexpectations>

After more than a decade, the poignant educational theatre program remains a timely and effective tool to help young adults reduce their chances of becoming involved in unwanted sexual experiences or high-risk alcohol use.

Thousands of college students, faculty and staff and numerous Kalamazoo-area educators and health professionals attend the show each fall. The performances, which are free and open to public, feature the Great Sexpectations Touring Theatre Company, a talented troupe of specially trained WMU student artist-educators.

"Great Sexpectations" is one of two innovative programs developed at the University that use the power of theatre to link health and learning. Together with "No More Lies: A Workshop About Communities of Caring and the Alcohol Culture," these programs present factual information in a way that actively engages and deeply touches student audiences.

Kevin D. Dodd, WMU coordinator of Theatre for Community Health in the Sindecuse Health Center's Office of Health Promotion and Education, says the two programs serve as triggers for discussions about healthy versus unhealthy relationships, protective skills and supportive campus resources.

Dodd, who directs both programs, notes that the "Great Sexpectations" program uses dramatic scenarios to explore common sexual and substance abuse concerns.

"The program offers students skills to develop meaningful relationships and addresses issues, perceptions, behaviors and consequences that come from real-life situations of college students," he says. "It allows students to draw inspiration from seeing others like themselves change their lives and relationships for the better."

The Office of Health Promotion and Education produces the program in collaborative partnership with WMU's Department of Theatre and eight other academic departments that provide credit for the student artist-educators who are selected for leadership training as members of the Great Sexpectations Touring Theatre Company.

The company has been invited to perform for the American College Health Association, has traveled to campuses and conferences throughout the Midwest, and has been recognized by the Center for the Advancement of Public Health as a national model.

In addition, the "Great Sexpectations" script has been purchased by other higher education institutions, including Stanford University, the University of Arizona and the University of Alabama.

The "No More Lies" workshop debuted in 2000 after having a successful one-year pilot program in 1999. Dodd says it adds an interactive dimension to educational theatre, providing an emotional experience through which students can examine individual and community relationships to alcohol in a safe, nonjudgmental manner.

Intended to create agents of change, "No More Lies" gives students the chance to voice their opinions and concerns regarding alcohol and its second-hand effects, while recognizing and responding to problem situations.

Each interactive performance is facilitated by health educators and student peer educators. Regular workshops are scheduled on the WMU campus throughout the academic year. Faculty members and student organizations at the University also may schedule private workshops.

For more information about WMU's theatre for community health programs or show times and locations for the 2002 "Great Sexpectations" season, call the Office of Health Promotion and Education at (269) 387-3263.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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