Comprised entirely of Lipscomb students, Second Stage Student Theatre is a completely student-run theatre company whose goal is to create art and challenge society. Founded in 2016 by juniors Scott Wilson, Morgan Bowling, and senior Bekah Purifoy, 2SST exists to give theatre students a medium of uncensored, challenging artistic expression.
“We use Second Stage as a vehicle to create art,” Wilson said.
Many theatres have a second stage. The second stage traditionally produces shows under the same theatre program, but 2SST is not Lipscomb-affiliated
Though typically under the same program as the main stage, a second stage show does not usually receive the same attention as a main stage show.
“We wanted to take that a step further,” Wilson said.
Wilson said that establishing the company was not solely to further their careers or to brag on a resume. The goal is to struggle and learn how to express themselves independently.
Opening Thursday at the Darkhorse Theatre, Second Stage will be producing “Really Really,” a show by Paul Downs Colaizzo.
This controversial show is about a character who accuses her friend of sexually assaulting her at a college party and the gray area that ensues. The play features some racy themes, crude language and sexual innuendos.
“Mentioning that makes it harder to sell,” junior Connor Weaver, who plays Davis, said. “It could be triggering, but theatre is raw.”
Even though each member of the team attends Lipscomb, the cast and crew decided to leave these controversial messages in the show. Junior and director Natalie Risk made this decision because the things that happen in the story are happening in the real world.
“We need to talk about it in order for it to change,” Wilson said in agreement. “If we keep sweeping this under the rug, it’ll keep happening.”
Risk chose this play because assault is unfortunately a relevant and relatable topic.
“One in five college-aged women will face sexual assault,” Risk said. “Statistics only go so far, but it’s not until you experience it as a story that you truly understand what that experience is like.”
Weaver’s character is the one accused of assault.
“Davis is the good, Christian guy that everyone likes,” Weaver said. “In that way, Davis is very relatable. I relate to Davis so much, but he does this thing that I cannot fathom doing. I’m trying to fight that.”
Wilson emphasized that even this detail is pertinent to conveying the complexity involved in these situations.
Weaver agreed, saying, “It’s less about right and wrong and more about that gray area in the middle.”
The fact that Second Stage Student Theatre is completely student-led makes the play that much more relatable.
“It could easily be our peers in these situations,” Weaver said.
In preparing for this controversial production, Risk has talked to Lipscomb’s Title IX Coordinators in order to better understand the infrastructure that is built to handle these situations and how they sometimes cause more harm than good.
Many powerful names in the Lipscomb and greater Nashville community will be present after the show for a talkback with the cast and crew to better enlighten the audience on the problems that exist as a result of sexual assault.
“For an entire student-led production, it’s been led with so much care, and everyone has taken it so seriously and professionally,” Risk said. “We didn’t just make art. We’re telling a powerful story and igniting conversations that need to happen.”
“Really Really” runs March 23-25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Darkhorse Theatre. To preorder tickets to “Really Really,” visit the event page.