What began as “Great Sexpectations” in 1996 is still going strong on campus. Today the program is known as “Realities On Campus” and it combines elements of music and theater with current issues to give incoming freshmen an idea of what to expect throughout their college careers.
Jane Etheridge, director of the Women’s Center, oversees the production and said it addresses issues in a way everyone can enjoy.
“We want new students to think the campus is hip and current,” Etheridge said. “Our main goals are to introduce students to issues that could hinder their success, show them that upperclassmen care about their well-being and to help them prevent suffering the consequences of mistakes.”
Etheridge said the “Hero” theme of the evening was picked in light of the release of the movie “Captain America” among others including “Thor,” “Iron Man,” “The Avengers” and “Green Lantern.”
“Having a subtle theme has been a great way to reach students in the past,” Etheridge said. “In the past we’ve made HIV our focus when it was in all the media. Over the years we scale some skits down and add what’s current.”
Marcus Veasey, junior from Columbus, Ohio, was a returning cast member.
“It’s essentially the same play, but it’s with different people and we interpret ideas differently than what might have been done in the past,”?he said. “We try to put a spin on the classics.”
Tevin Crumble, sophomore from Hickman, Ky., was a first-time cast member.
“We try to have realistic dialogue so the audience can believe we’re actually in the situation,” he said. “This way students relate to us better.”
As the cast took a break a few hours before the performance, Etheridge said one of the reasons the show has managed to maintain a place in Great Beginnings is because of the new creativity students bring to it each year.
“Students who do not attend miss out on a lot of fun,” Etheridge said. “College is the time to try new things, but kids sometimes think it’s not cool to go, and that’s sad. This is a chance to go to a play if you’ve never been to one, and we get our message across using music and theater. We also strive to have a diverse cast not only in race but in life experience and ideas.”
The designated seats in Lovett were filled to capacity. As Etheridge said, heroes were incorporated into skits about eating disorders, procrastination, rape and alcohol use.
“I was at a convention at the University of South Carolina and saw that they had a similar program,” Etheridge said. “So we thought that we could do something like it for new students and over the years it has become a real staple in Great Beginnings. It has to compete with a lot of other groups like Sorority Recruitment, Residential College Council and Racer Band. However we get continued support from the Office of Student Affairs, and new people and staff members are always welcome.”
With fresh ideas and creativity, “Realities On Campus” will return to the stage next fall to entertain and educate a new class of freshmen as it has for the last 15 years.