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Review by Joseph Brooks of a new play on hazing

Excerpt:

Theater/Books Editor

Tisch sophomore Jake Rosenberg questions the practice of fraternity hazing, privilege and perception of masculinity in his new play “Brothers.” In light of the startling number of hazing-related deaths, “Brothers” explores the centuries-old practice of hazing and its connotations of masculinity and power.

This one-act play is set in a college dorm at the fictitious Faber University, a subtle nod to the cult classic “Animal House.” “Brothers” follows roommates John (Theo Iyer), a student from a wealthy family with a long legacy  in Greek life who himself is rushing a fraternity, and Joe (Nathan Simpson), a student who served in the military and was not accepted into a fraternity. The story begins with John asking Joe to let him record a video of Joe being spanked with a paddle as part of an initiation scavenger hunt. Joe refuses, which sparks a critical conversation between them about hazing practices, masculinity, privilege and acceptance. This conversation turns volatile and violent, which provides a shocking commentary on expected masculinity imposed by society and what that means for both men.

The topic of masculinity is ever-present in the play and is analyzed in great detail, alluding to the fact that John and Joe feel the need to participate in a fraternity or a similar group to feel truly masculine. Because of the masculinity associated with fraternities, heteronormativity, overt pride and a fear of showing emotion is instilled in the minds of young men.

The impeccable acting, stage direction (Sophia Cannata-Bowman), combat choreography (Mary St. Angelo) and beautifully blunt writing all work flawlessly together to create a truly chilling show. It is uncomfortable, frightening and disturbing for all the right reasons. The horrifyingly well-choreographed fight sequences are physically uncomfortable to watch and the ever-present hiding of true emotions speak a shocking truth about institutionalized masculinity and the dangers of hazing.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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