UI play questions beauty standards


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As with somber TV commercials featuring little kids with cancer or abused animals, serious topics are often presented to people in ways that provoke emotion. However, Role Models, part of the University of Iowa Theater Department’s Workshop Series, deals with similar severe issues concerning the apparent unrealistic beauty standards forced upon today’s society by taking a unique approach.

“I didn’t want audiences to think, ‘Oh, another drama about beauty or race or whatever,’” playwright Hiram Orozco said. “I wanted to take all of these different issues and make them funny so that an audience is engaged but also thinking.”

At 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Role Models will be performed in 172 Theater Building. The play is free, but audience members must get tickets at the door to secure a seat for the comedy.

UI senior and Role Models actor Matt Smith said approaching the issue of society’s beauty standards with a comedic edge is generally more effective for a young-adult audience.

“A lot of people don’t want to face these issues, but it’s something that a lot of college kids can relate to,” Smith said. “Comedy is a good way to shed light on problems people don’t usually want to deal with.”

While most people think of celebrities and models when imagining a perfect image, Orozco said experience gave him the basis for the play.

“A lot of people usually ask me if I’m anorexic and I’m like, ‘No, it’s in my genes. I eat a lot, I promise,’ ” Orozco said and laughed. “That kind of put the idea in the back of my head.”

Although these awkward encounters were the spark for Role Models, Orozco said, there were more revelations in casual conversations with his friends. For example, he said, a friend once told him she wished she could just “cut off her fat,” a remark that really stuck with Orozco, inspiring him to challenge societys idea of “beautiful” and how it affects real people.

“Today, for sure, it’s skinny or thin,” said Hunter Menken, a UI freshman and actor. “For my character in the play, white is the generic view of beauty and I, personally, would change that to beauty is everywhere.”

This idea of loving oneself no matter what is precisely what Orozco said he wanted to capture through the Role Models. However, he doesn’t use the ordinary plot line an audience might expect in order to do so.

According to the playwright, nothing concrete necessarily happens in the play because it is a part of a trilogy, focused more on the political than emotional.

“Usually, you’d come in [to the play] feeling one way, and you’d come out feeling another way,” Orozco said. “With this play, you may come in thinking one way and then leave thinking another way.”

Role Models
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: 172 Theater Building
Admission: Free

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