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One America - Race, Relationships, and Reality: A Performance About The Real Life Experiences of Villanova University Community Members

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One America

Program: Race, Relationships, and Reality: A Performance About The Real Life Experiences of Villanova University Community Members, Villanova, PA
Contact(s): Dr. Heidi Rose: (610) 519-6939
Purpose: To be a catalyst for having constructive dialogues on race

Background Program Operations Outcomes


Race, Relationships, and Reality began in 1996 as a performance designed to be part of Villanova University's "Freedom School," an all-day program held every year to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. However, for the 1997-1998 school year, the script was altered to specifically reflect the experiences of students and faculty. Under the direction of two professors in the university's Communication Department--Dr. Heidi Rose and Dr. Teresa Nance, students conducted interviews with different faculty and students, and they used these interviews to create a new script. The performance also incorporated those individuals who have felt their issues and concerns are not heard on the campus.

Program Operations

Race, Relationships, and Reality is a 15-minute series of personal narratives and dialogues relating to experiences and attitudes of race and racism at Villanova University. It involves 10 undergraduate male and female students representing diverse racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds. The performance focuses on racial conflicts and how to use dialogue in resolving these conflicts. The act is performed for classes, student organizations, fraternities, sororities and administrative offices. Performers make the audience feel as though they are part of the performance, fostering a sense of openness and trust between the performers and the audience so they may confront sensitive issues. These discussions allow audience members to respond to the ideas conveyed in the performance, to share their own experiences and to begin learning how to work through racial conflicts. While the performance cannot provide conclusive answers, it paves the way for further exploration by the audience. Ultimately, performers hope that trust and empathy will increase among people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

During the 1997-1998 academic year, the performance reached 750 people. Plans to revise and update the script for the 1998-1999 academic year are currently underway. Various faculty members and student leaders have requested the performance for fall 1998. The university's Office of Multicultural Affairs markets the performance, and the Communications Department operates Race, Relationships, and Reality.

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