Despite all the events focused on representing identity and truth on campus in 2004, Stephany Hazelrigg felt marginalized.
Though she participated in the “Vagina Monologues,” she felt that none of these identity-truth events displayed racial truths through people of color’s experiences. So she created “The Naked Truth on Stereotypes,” a production focused on revealing truths of all stereotypes.
“I was in the ‘Vagina Monologues’ that year and the lack of minority representation was problematic,” Hazelrigg said. “We wanted to create a safe space where could talk about marginalized groups.”
“The Naked Truth on Stereotypes” continues, and Hazelrigg now teaches other universities, high schools and middle schools how to adopt this production all over the country.
Western’s “Naked Truth” is at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 21 in the Viking Union Multipurpose Room. It is free for students with ID.
This year, the “Naked Truth” and the “Vagina Memoirs,” Western’s adaptation of the “Vagina Monologues,” are co-dependent and publicizing together.
The weekend before the performances, the two production casts met for a potluck. Next quarter, the sponsors of the events plan to collaborate for a Tribute to Truth week, said Daniel Espinoza-Gonzalez, the Associated Students Ethnic Student Center program coordinator.
“The ‘Naked Truth’ and the ‘Vagina Memoirs’ are both revealing truths. It can be intimidating and scary, but you go through the process with a group of people and you feel empowered by their support,” Espinoza-Gonzalez said.
Iris Maute-Gibson, a cast member in the “Naked Truth,” remembered attending Hazelrigg’s first production with her mother in spring 2005. She was 14 at the time, and the production affected her immensely.
“I distinctly remember [realizing] I wanted to work on social justice issues. In a lot of ways it made me who I am today,” Maute-Gibson said.
Espinoza-Gonzalez participated in a previous “Naked Truth,” embodying machismo, a Latino cultural stereotype that exaggerates masculinity. He remembers the process of sharing his truth.
“You feel so healthy after you let it all out,” Espinoza-Gonzalez said.
Cast members are selected through an application and open casting call process. This year, the “Naked Truth” accepted all 14 of the people who tried out. In previous years, as many as 30 participants applied.
All applicants being accepted is rare, Espinoza-Gonzalez said.
The upcoming show ranges on a broad set of issues. Racial, ethnic, gender, survivor, immigrant and relationship stereotypes will all be portrayed.
“There’s not two people in the cast that you could put side by side and say their stereotypes are the same,” Espinoza-Gonzalez said. “Everyone is tackling their own.”
Facilitators for the production asked cast members to talk to their friends and family and ask what their stereotypes were, Maute-Gibson said. She asked people during in-depth conversations as well as casually, including posting a Facebook status, to find out what stereotypes people cast her in.
Even with their input, Maute-Gibson found something unexpected.
“Asking people what they thought challenged me to come up with answers for myself,” Maute-Gibson said. “I thought finding my stereotype and truth would be easy by asking others, but it wasn’t.”
Over one weekend following the selection process, the cast and facilitators went through workshops to find their stereotypes.
Hazelrigg, who still produces and directs every “Naked Truth” show at Western, always looks forward two the workshops. It is her favorite part about the production, she said.
“I am so excited to meet with everyone and begin to see the entirety of our truths unfold, Maute-Gibson said. “I hope I’m not the only one that feels absolutely terrified still.”