Harassment Dance

Breast Entanglements

Directed by Sarah Grojean

Set at Oregon University in 1979, The Harassment Dance deals with the taboo topic of sexual harassment between a professor and a number of his female students. Conner Flanagan is a progressive second year graduate student in the theatre department who has heard about Professor John Sutton’s reputation for inappropriate conduct towards women. A returning graduate student and a current graduate student confide in Conner about Sutton’s harassment, after which she receives a phone call from a mysterious older graduate student who tricks her into revealing harmful information. Conner becomes involved in a world of scandal and injustice.

Conner attempts to seek justice for the women, but since she is not the direct victim of the harassment, her efforts are ineffective. None of the graduate students will file a complaint against Sutton with the Dean’s office, and until a formal complaint is made, Sutton remains empowered. When Conner returns from a conference, she learns that Sutton has resigned for “personal reasons.” Upon hearing this, she learns that a junior-year undergraduate student, inspired by Conner’s enthusiasm and empowering voice for women, decided to come forward. Sutton is gone, but has moved to a new university to continue the cycle of harassment and injustice elsewhere.

The Harassment Dance, Barbara Means Fraser, copyright 2006.
First reading at Fess Parker Studio Theatre, September 14, 2007, directed by Sarah Grojean.

Conner: Woman. A second year graduate student. Strong, assertive, politically sophisticated. Sees theatre in terms of social justice issues. She is well respected in the department. Other students come to her for advice.

Michael: Man. Conner's best friend. Michael is a gay. He is also a second year graduate student.

Rita Blue: Woman. Fourth year graduate student. From a different era in the department. Conner and Michael are students of the new faculty. Rita is more exotic.

Tracy: Woman. Shy, junior undergraduate. Looking for validation.

Elaine: Woman. Returning graduate student. About ten years older than Conner. Elaine was married and divorced before she entered grad school. She is a more traditional woman and not as confident and independent as Conner.

Norma: Woman. Fiesty. Norma has just finished her dissertation and is competing on the job market. Norma is older than Conner. They have a common respect, but are different enough that they often have tension. Norma is strong and assertive, but not as politically sophisticated as Conner. She prefers art to social justice issues.

Tom: Man. Faculty. A good teacher and supportive of students. Newer than John.

John: Man. Well respected professor within the university. Has a national reputation for his scholarship. Very charming.

Dean: Man. Traditional academic. Pragmatic.

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