By Yakin Ouederni

Performed in Spring 2021, Msh Zanbek consisted of five original plays — Ensah, See Me, The Report, Esh Fahemek and The Day We Met — each exploring a different perspective of sexual harassment: families and couples, bystanders, victims and perpetrators, men and women, power and incapacity.

“We created Msh Zanbek to raise awareness, look at multiple aspects of sexual harassment and assault, and start an active conversation in the community around this issue,” says Jillian Campana, associate dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, professor of theatre and director of the play.

Msh Zanbek involved more than 60 AUC students and alumni working as directors, playwrights, actors, designers and managers. Campana and Dina Amin ’84, associate professor of theatre and director of the Theatre Program, are the play’s co-creators.

“I was not surprised by the dialog and reactions of those who were involved in the production,” reflects Campana. “By creating and rehearsing this play, they were researching the subject and unpacking individual and societal perceptions and feelings. Everyone involved in the play began the process with their own experiences, but by working on it, they were able to understand the experiences of many others. This is where the learning comes in and where the potential for change is realized.”

And what about the audience’s reactions?

“Many audience members told me that the play started conversations in their friend groups and families,” says Campana. “Several audience members questioned some of the stories. For example, some students wanted to know why some of the plays did not have endings that were prescriptive — in other words, why they did not tell audiences what to think or do.

Our goal was to get audiences thinking but not to tell them precisely what to think because critical thinking does not originate from a didactic approach. I also had students question language, including the play’s titles. This is great because this means that audience members are thinking, talking and questioning. That is the goal of an art piece and why the arts are essential. They help us understand and analyze human behavior, and make changes based on that new knowledge.”

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