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Triggers, Games, & Inclusivity: A Discussion with College Students on the Topics Raised in Safe Space

Written by Erin O’Donnell, Bay Street Theater Marketing Intern

On June 1st, members of Bay Street’s 2019 Summer College Internship Program got together for a roundtable discussion on Safe Space and some of the topics raised in the play. This discussion was moderated by Director of Education & Community Outreach Allen O’Reilly and consisted of six interns from three different departments. The purpose of this roundtable was to shed light on the opinions of millennials and current college students and look at how the issues raised in this play relate to their personal experiences on campus.



Allen O’Reilly – Bay Street Theater’s Director of Education & Community Outreach\


Claire McEwen: Administrative & Development Intern

Geanna Funnes: Acting Apprentice

Julian Olive: Production Assistant

Ethan Metz: Acting Apprentice

Kellie Beck: Directing & Producing Intern

Enih Agwe: Acting Apprentice


Minority and Inclusivity

In Safe Space, Jenny is seen as a minority amongst her peers since she is an Asian American woman. Many interns were able to relate to how Jenny feels through visible and intangible minority characteristics and how this has impacted inclusivity on college campuses. Claire and Geanna both agreed that they had felt isolated at times through race or sexuality. Geanna pointed out that “People group minorities together, which isn't okay, because everyone is their own person.”

Julian recalled a time in college when he sat in with directors about casting a play. He said, “In an educational environment you're allowed to experiment with different casting choices, but from observation I’ve seen, people can be totally dismissed because of a person’s race not fitting the director's vision, even though these students HAD to audition for college credit. This is so defeating for college students in an environment that’s supposed to be an open, safe place.”

Ethan chimed in and said, “The theater department at my school is inclusive, but that is the OPPOSITE of the musical theater department. I feel bad because even though the school is trying to be inclusive, I often gets cast in roles that I look like I would fit, not based on what race I actually am.”



In Safe Space, main character Jenny tends to overuse the power of the word trigger and what it stands for. However, Bay Street’s Interns agreed that they love how Jenny is aware of her trigger words and is willing to talk about them. They all believe it is important to recognize triggers and listen for understanding. Claire was quick to mention that roundtables like these are important because they “Help to talk about triggers, but also help us realize they come with stipulations. Even talking about triggers can be triggering, but it's good to get the word out to understand each other better.”

Kellie pointed out that “Universities get passed off as a safe space. The use and need for safe spaces and the fact people have triggers is a reflection of what millennials want in their own lives. People are testing out new ideas in these universities not because they're necessarily safer than everywhere else, but because they’re a good place to start.”


The Game

The last term discussed was “the game”. This phrase relates to the game of opportunities afforded to people based off race, gender, sexuality, etc. In Safe Space, it often seems that each of the characters are playing the game. The roundtable participants believe that it's not necessarily a negative thing, but one must just find a way to use “the game” to your advantage and know when or when not to stop. Kellie pointed out that “Many people see diversity and inclusion at universities as a fulfillment of quota, and it becomes a game of using identities as pawns instead of looking at a person for what they are, which is demeaning.”

Enih said, “The game is a scary thing for me, because while applying to universities I was afraid that the game was being played and schools already had enough of one race for their quotas. I didn't want to be lumped in with other people.”

Geanna then pointed out that “There is always a game being played as a society. That's life; but when we stop playing the game is when we start to understand people for who they really are.”


Posted: July 10, 2019 in Shows & Events

Tagged: safe space, interns