This spring, one of Colorado College’s most popular theater events will be returning to Taylor Theater. Relations is a show about “love, sex, and relationships on campus,” that is directed, written, and acted by students.
Junior Emily Kautz, one of the co-directors of Relations, describes the content as “essentially anything about human connection at CC” including “race, gender, hookups, sexual assault, even funny tinder stories.”
Roughly 12 to 15 people are chosen to be in the cast, as Kautz (now a junior) was in her sophomore year. Each actor can only be in the show once, although past actors often come back to direct in later years.
The cast comes from “all different walks of life,” said Kautz. “A ton of the people have never acted in their life. We have a huge range from lacrosse players to theater majors.”
Often times, the people with the least acting experience have the most popular pieces, since their performances can come off as more genuine.
The play is predominantly made up of monologues, but also includes group scenes, which are usually comical in nature. The directors use the Relations Facebook page to get material for the group pieces, asking questions and finding out what the CC community responds to most. In the past, Relations has been wildly successful. Taylor Theater is, “always packed for all four shows, and people seem really excited to see the show,” said Kautz.
The word that comes to mind the most when talking about Relations is “real.” In essence, the cast is not putting on an act, but rather telling very personal stories that “help them connect with the audience. It’s just people standing there telling truths,” said Kautz.
The raw, intimate nature of the show makes the cast grow extremely close by the end of the process. Writers submit their own pieces, which must be based off of personal experience. According to Kautz, everyone involved is “put out of their comfort zone, and opens up and talks about the things that never really get talked about.”
It creates a natural and positive space during rehearsals, which Kautz describes as “exciting, but zen at the same time.”
The directors’ goals this year are to “bring issues to light, make people laugh and make people cry. It’s an experience for both the audience and for the people involved in the show.” The rehearsals are a mix of really funny moments mixed with dialogues about really serious issues. “We really formed a family,” says Kautz. “It was a place of complete trust, complete openness. Those were people you could go to anytime.”
What makes Relations unique is that it’s more than just a play. The directors of the show also bring in guest speakers to educate the cast about related issues. Last year, the speakers included experts on gender fluidity and people who have undergone gender-reassignment surgeries. In one of the past rehearsals, the whole crew sat in a circle and wrote down any questions that they had, from ‘questions they’ve always wanted to ask the other gender,’ to ‘how do you recover from a broken heart?’ They answered them as a group and each person was able to contribute their unique experiences.
The part of the show that takes the most strength is definitely the sexual assault section. People are welcome to act in their own pieces, in which case the actors are really “speaking from the heart. There is something in them that they really identify with.” It is definitely difficult, but “having that supportive system is what makes it flow so smoothly.”
Kautz was apprehensive about directing this year, as she was unsure about her ability to recreate the incredible atmosphere and community that was so present last year. But, after just one rehearsal, she saw that it was still very much there. “Seeing everything come together, and watching people confront these issues head on, but with a community there that supports them,” she says is her favorite part of the show.
Often,people audition after seeing and being inspired by the show. One of this year’s actresses said that she was a “fangirl of Relations, and couldn’t wait to actually be a part of it this year.” Some people come see the show out of curiosity, wondering if there’s ‘a story about me in there’. “It’s sexy, it’s fun, people are doing crazy things, erotic things, it’s eye-catching but subtle at the same time.”
Kautz and her fellow directors are still accepting submissions, and would love to see more pieces. The show will go up in Taylor Theater during third week of Block 8. Professors, faculty, and paraprofs are also strongly encouraged to submit. “Everyone from the CC community is involved,” which makes it such a popular show and a bonding experience.