New play features the diverse life stories of WWU students

“First Person: Diverse Student Stories,” a new play in the words of Western students, will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19, 20 and 21 at WWU’s Performing Arts Center – DUG Theatre.

“First Person: Diverse Student Stories,” written by Journalism Professor Maria McLeod and directed by Western alum Karee Wardrop, is a collection of seven monologues about college student lives told from the perspective of students of color, differing abilities, ages, ethnicities and gender identities.

These stories, derived from interviews conducted earlier this year by McLeod, are performed by Western student actors, community members and one visiting actor from Detroit. ASL interpreters will interpret all three performances.

Narratives include stories of finding one’s passion as a returning student veteran, learning the meaning of money on a senior trip to Las Vegas, trying to explain one’s gender identity to parents, being racially and/or ethnically profiled, and navigating the educational system as a deaf person in a hearing world.

“Every student has a story, and these seven are particularly powerful, compelling and deserving of an audience,” McLeod said. “Karee, cast and crew have done an amazing job of bringing these stories to life.”

This production of “First Person” marks the second time McLeod and Wardrop have teamed up for a documentary-theatre production. In 2012-13, Wardrop directed another piece by McLeod, also derived from interviews, “Body Talk: Sexual Triumphs, Trials and Revelations,” with sold-out shows at the Firehouse Performing Arts Center in Bellingham.

Tickets for “First Person,” which are free but necessary to reserve seats, can be obtained by visiting or calling the WWU Box Office, 650-6146.

This play was written with support from a Spratlen Diversity and Inclusion Grant, which McLeod was awarded in December 2014. Support also has been provided by the Provost’s Office, the Western Foundation, and Research and Sponsored Programs.

In addition to creating “First Person” as part of her grant proposal, McLeod has, since spring 2015, overseen the #StudentsofWestern Facebook series through independent studies with journalism students.