In an effort to provide a message of hope for gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender students, Penn State students are pairing with the “It Gets Better” project for a Feb. 7 performance.
Amy Dupain Vashaw, director of audience and program development for the Penn State Center for the Performing Arts, said the Los Angeles Gay Men’s Chorus and the Speak Theater Arts company have collaborated to bring to stage a version of the online phenomena “It Gets Better.”
“It does get better; the world needs your voice, and you will be accepted for who you are,” Vashaw said. “Those are the main messages of the ‘It Gets Better’ project.”
Vashaw said the Penn State student chorus will be interwoven with the LA Gay Men’s performance. She said at the end, student monologists, dancers and the choir will be on stage with a 10 to 15 minute work they’ve created.
Vashaw said there will also be a photograph and art portion of the event. She said the art exhibit will be up during the evening of the performance, adding that she encourages people to come early to view it.
Jenny Shipley said she will take part in the performance segment of the project with a few other undergraduate students. Shipley (senior-mechanical engineering) said she wrote a spoken word monologue piece for the project.
The project began in 2010 after an outbreak of young suicides and she said this was the first year Penn State decided to get involved.
“It gives young LGBTA people hope and tells them that times are changing, and if you just stick around and stick it out, it will eventually get better,” Shipley said.
Susan Russell, who collaborated on the project with Aquila Franklin, said the performance will show that LGBTA issues are everywhere. Russell, artistic director at Cultural Conventions, said Penn State has one of the top alliances at any university in the country, but said this will continue to localize the problems for many.
She said the performance will take place at Eisenhower Auditorium next Thursday, and said student artwork from State College High School will be placed in the lobby of the Downtown Theatre Center, 146 S. Allen St.
Franklin said via email that she worked with student dancers who will accompany students speaking their monologues.
“This is a great opportunity to use theatre, music and dance to promote understanding and highlight issues we face everyday,” Franklin said. “Collaborating with faculty and students from across the university is also enriching for both faculty and students.”