March 14, 2017
The new on-campus play Welcome to Claradise has been pretty controversial, as many people involved in the Santa Clara community are aware.
The play focuses on the campus’ reaction to hateful vandalism that occurred in Casa Italiana Residence hall last quarter. In October, 2016, two students drew a swastika in blood in a residence hall elevator and wrote anti-LGBTQ slurs on a poster in the fourth floor hallway. The play also touches upon the vandalism of the 43 Students Memorial at the beginning of fall quarter.
The show illuminates the reality of life at Santa Clara—much of the script is built around interviews that the production team conducted with members of the campus community. These interviews tell the stories of discrimination on campus, describing rape culture at Santa Clara and the casual use of racist, sexist language between students.
However, many students have criticized the play’s approach. The cast lacks diversity and the production team failed to interview important campus leaders from groups like the MCC, Unity 4 and the Ethnic Studies program, among others.
When I first heard about the opposition to the play, I was torn. I wanted to hear the stories Welcome to Claradise promised to tell. I wanted to learn how the swastika drawn in blood and the vandalism of the 43 Students Memorial impacted people besides my immediate friends and myself. I wanted to support the cast and the crew, who I knew were committed to their mission and to the stories they had collected.
But I also wanted to support the students whose voices had been left out of the play. If I went, would it mean I didn’t understand or care about the significant objections these students had raised?
I know the internal conflict and confusion I experienced was not unique. I have friends who also debated whether or not to go, and some who ended up choosing not to. Ultimately, however, I did decide to go and I’m glad I did.
From interviews acted out by the cast, I heard how the blood swastika affected different members of the Santa Clara community, including people living in Casa Italiana and several Jewish students. I learned how the homophobic slurs impacted a closeted student leader. I heard about how prejudice and racism presided over a black female student’s first week of freshman year. I saw (and related to) how sexism and violence against women impact the daily lives of other female students on campus.
While I believe the criticism of this play is important, I think those who choose not to see the Welcome to Claradise are missing out on an important opportunity to hear student voices.
I agree that the cast’s lack of diversity and the production team’s failure to interview several important campus leaders is problematic. However, the stories told in this play are about real members of our community: their experiences, struggles and concerns. Every interview contained a unique message about individual student experiences at Santa Clara. And if I hadn’t seen Welcome to Claradise, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to hear and learn from these student stories at all.
The play debuted on Friday, March 10. It will run from Wednesday, March 15 to Saturday, March 18 in the Louis B. Mayer Theatre—performances are at 8 p.m. each night. You can purchase tickets for showings of Welcome to Claradise here.
The March 15 performance is a free arts appreciation event, so use the code ARTSAPPRECIATION to obtain free tickets for the show.
Articles in the Opinion section represent the views of the individual authors only and not the views of The Santa Clara or Santa Clara University.