On Sept. 17, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) sponsored a Rollins Improv Players (RIP) show based on the theme of misunderstanding. The show starred the usual cast of characters improvising scenes while also incorporating suggestions collected from the audience prior to the show regarding their views on misunderstanding, clarity and fraternity and sorority life. While most of the scenes contained the usual fast-paced RIP humor, such as when Dr. David Charles (Dr. D) of the theatre department proclaimed, “I’m a cross dresser, Shannon, I’m not gay,” there were also more somber moments that reflected on how prevalent and unfortunate incomprehension can be.
Following the show, the chairs in the Fred Stone Theatre were rearranged into a circle and Dr. D facilitated a discussion about personal stories regarding misunderstanding. Though at first people were hesitant to open up to one another, one man’s story ultimately broke the ice and after that, the conversation flowed pretty easily. He told about a young white boy who was bullied by a few black kids; afterward, the boy was reluctant to share this with anyone because he did not want to come across as racist toward black people. The man concluded that racism can go both ways: “people forget that racism can be reversed… it is a universal thing.”
The rest of the discussion touched upon other misunderstandings, including culture, religion and sexual orientation. Alexis Riley ’13 shared a story about one of her former teachers who was a lesbian. Riley said that at first she was apprehensive about having a gay teacher, but once she got to know the teacher, her opinion completely changed. “Once you get to know someone,” Riley said, “You realize how beautiful they really are.” Some outside visitors also offered their tales of misunderstanding. One young Muslim woman spoke of being subjected to extra attention at airports and how in grade school other kids teased her for her apparel. However, since then, she says, situations have improved, and she does not let those sorts of things bother her. “I think part of [overcoming prejudice] is it helps to be confident in yourself.”
In most cases, misunderstandings are blown out of proportion and if people were less into labeling themselves as a way to fi nd their identity, there would be less incomprehension in the world. So whether one assumes that Dr. D is from England because of his accent or someone has erroneous beliefs about a person based off of his or her sexual orientation, misunderstanding is a common occurrence in the world; maybe if RIP hosts more shows like this in the future and people in general become more aware of common misconceptions, eventually there will be no more misunderstanding anywhere.