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    Swallow This

    Celebrating its 11th year, the theatrical production of ‘Swallow This!’ has begun to put on shows around campus. For every Wednesday in the month of November, the show will be held at various locations around campus.

    ‘Swallow This!’ is a show of 10 skits that educate and motivate students into making safer decisions. Alcohol abuse, family alcoholism, date rape, smoking, safer sex, abstinence, and drugs are common issues that are presented every year. The show is performed by students without the use of props, costume, or set. The show relies more on pantomimic skills.

    ‘Theatre gets an audience to feel vulnerable or empowered to make a different choice,’ said Kathleen Flynn-Bisson, health educator from the Student Health Services. Flynn-Bisson started the show in 1995.

    ‘I had gone to a conference and saw something where there were stories of substance abuse and improv of campus stories,’ Flynn-Bisson said. That was where she got the idea from.

    ‘Swallow This!’ is made possible by the Theatre Arts class, Special Topics in Performance. This full-year class is for upper division students, offering three credits per semester. Class enrollment is based off of auditions that are held the previous spring in order to cast for the following year’s ‘Swallow This!’ production. Those auditioning are required to present themselves in improv situations, and portray their personality by answering some questions about their personal lives.

    Flynn- Bisson mentioned how there is a need to include people of various backgrounds. ‘Choosing a diverse cast is part of our decision making process,’ said Bisson. Usually between 10 and 15 people are chosen where half are male and the other half are females. This year’s ‘Swallow This!’ production features a cast of 12.

    ‘The class is crazy,’ said senior cast member Xavier Rodney. ‘We’re trying to make [the show] more different and new than the other shows.’ One way this year’s show varies from other shows is by the addition of singing.

    ‘This year we’ve had a very motivated group,’ said Elizabeth Bojsza, director of education in theater arts. ‘We have very talented singers this year, and that brings a lot of energy to the performance; it’s something unique.’ This is Bojsza’s third year involved with the show and teaching the class.

    The skits feature actual experiences by Stony Brook students. The stories are extracted from a database which contains stories submitted by students from various classes on campus. The cast members are required to read the stories over the summer and choose which stories they want to act out.

    ‘I get to write my own material,’ said sophomore cast member Natalie Allen. ‘I get to have that produced. I get an opportunity to direct, I get the opportunity to interact with other actors.’

    Cast member Tiffany Rodriguez recalls the first show this year on Nov. 1. ‘We were so nervous, but then after getting on stage we all got comfortable and it was great,’ she said. While the fall semester is focused more for on-campus events, the spring semester will include more road trips to other Long Island universities, high schools, and middle schools.

    Highlights from this year’s play include a skit about drinking, where the only word that is used for dialogue is ‘beer.’ Another skit is a monologue about a girl suffering from anorexia, and a musical act to the song ‘It’s a Hard-Knock Life’ in reference to family alcoholism.

    The skits have helped out cast members in their personal lives.

    ‘Thanks to the show, I was more aware of what was going on around me,’ said cast member Felix M. Ceballo, when talking about a party he had recently attended. ‘When I go to campus parties, I see things differently and make healthier choices,’ said sophomore cast member Charisse Hardy.

    Why is the show called ‘Swallow This?’ The phrase refers to ‘swallowing’ the information that the show puts out. As junior cast member Claudy Bince explained, ‘Because before you swallow that (alcohol, tobacco, other drugs), you got to swallow this.’

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