On behalf of the Department of Theatre and Drama, I’d like to respond to a recent letter to the editor.
First and foremost, I want to acknowledge the deep pain experienced by survivors of sexual assault and misconduct. As chair of the department, I am committed to fostering a safe, healthy climate and to treating reports of sexual assault and misconduct with the utmost seriousness. I encourage survivors to reach out for information and support, including using confidential resources like Survivor Services. The university’s Sexual Misconduct Resource and Response Program has followed up with the Daily Cardinal providing information to be shared with the letter writer, in hopes that they will share information that will allow the university to further investigate.
Like many works of theatre, there is a diversity of opinions about the play “Rashomon.” Our faculty and staff engaged in a vigorous dialogue about this production. Many works of art, including plays, feature controversial and uncomfortable depictions. It is through freely exploring complex topics that society can learn from them. The play’s major themes resound for the times we are in now. Our artistic directors have reflected on the value of this production, and it raises important themes such as the nature of truth and the need to sift and ponder and seek it out. How can an audience see the relative and elusive nature of truth presented on stage? How does such an exercise play into our understanding of current events, where we are seeing different narratives on a variety of issues told from different perspectives?
After careful consideration, we decided to move forward with offering the production of "Rashomon" while taking steps to acknowledge the content of the play and preparing audiences for such content. The playbill for this production includes a content warning for depictions of physical violence and sexual assault and information on campus resources for survivors.
It is my hope that we continue to work together to support a safe and vibrant culture within the department.
Chair, Department of Theatre and Drama
University of Wisconsin–Madison