Inspired by a controversial meme that became popular over winter break, Performing for Change will be presenting a showcase titled “Triggered” on Friday, April 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Wien Experimental Theatre at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. The title refers to a mental health trigger, which can be anything that evokes a memory of a traumatic experience or an episode. The meme that surfaced over break would take people or characters and place them adjacent to words or images related to them before imprinting the word “Triggered” over the picture. One example of this meme had Pixar character Buzz Lightyear placed adjacent to a gif of a Toyota insignia which zoomed in on the letters “T-O-Y.”
“The meme trivialized the word. People becoming triggered is an experience that is unique to those with PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] or similar forms of mental illness that can cause similar trauma,” said Katie Barrera ’18, the head of PR and marketing for Performing for Change. “To use it to describe the experience of a person without trauma is not only incorrect, but harmful to those who have experienced trauma and can be triggered by certain experiences. For someone’s symptoms to be seen as a joke is harmful all around.”
The showcase will explore mental illness and disability through a play following the lives of six individuals with mental illnesses or disabilities that affect their everyday lives. In the play, there will be an incident at an open mic performance these individuals attend where several of these individuals will be triggered in what they had thought would be a safe place to present their creativity.
While details regarding these characters, and the actors playing them, remain a surprise for opening night, the entirety of the Performing for Change group will appear and be participating in the showcase. As the play’s plot surrounds two very different open-mic nights, each member will have an opportunity to present their original work which will include two songs created and performed in a collaborative group effort between Barrera, Monica Willson ‘18, and Erin Nordgren ‘19, as well as several spoken word segments.
“Performing for Change is one of the only spaces on campus that is having these important conversations about disability, mental illness, race, and sexuality all at the same time,” said co-director Meaghan Hamilton ’17, speaking passionately about why she hopes their performance will be a success. “It’s now more important than ever to have these community wide conversations about the most marginalized students on campus.”
Tickets for this theatrical and thought provoking performance will be sold at the door on the day of the event for $2 and profits will go towards ensuring that Performing for Change will continue to be able to support awareness raising events such as this one.