"Student involved discusses 'drunk girl' experiment in UCC"

One of the students involved in the UCC 'drunk girl' experiment, Katie Murphy, has spoken to the Irish Examiner about the experiment.

"Student involved discusses 'drunk girl' experiment in UCC"

The Drama and Theatre Studies class was inspired by Antonin Artaud, a French actor and theatre director, who developed 'The Happenings'. Katie says it is "based on his theory of Theatre Cruelty".

"The intention is to make the audience think, and [make them] slighty uncomfortable," she says.

They staged their own version of 'The Happenings' around UCC last Tuesday.

"There was six of us in the group," says Katie. "Two of us played the 'drunk' girls and the others were observers, watching reactions.

"For example when one girl was acting drunk outside the library, after a while I approached the group of guys she was talking to and asked did they know her, engaging in conversation and observing their reactions.

"A few more from the group came over and we all spoke to different people asking them questions about the 'drunk' girl.

"Another girl in our group filmed it and one of the guys turned around and gave out to her for filming, which was quite comforting!"

The group noticed that appearances affected the amount of help each girl received. The girls deliberately chose a different look from each other.

"We wanted to see if the public would react differently to a not-so-well-dressed drunk and a well-dressed drunk," Katie explains.

"One girl wore a long black coat, hair tied up, no makeup, a very casual look. She also came out from the library when she started acting drunk and it was interesting to see that people immediately labelled her as academic and were quite concerned about her because apparently she 'didn't look like the type to get drunk'.

"Another guy also came to the conclusion that 'study week must have gotten to her'.

"In contrast to this when I walked into the Main Rest 'drunk', I was dressed more formally. I went for a louder more outgoing giggly drunk and the reaction in the main rest was different to the reaction the other girl got.

"People weren't as concerned about me, despite the fact that I was stumbling and asking for water."

Despite this reluctance to help, Katie says she still ultimately received help, although some people "were clearly irritated and had no time for me".

"In general the reaction was still positive," she says. "However overall people were a lot less concerned about me and the reaction (despite the fact that most did help me) was in general [people] laughing at me and seeing the funny side to it rather than concern."

She is keen to dress that it was not a gender experiment.

"We talked to all people, male and female, and different nationalities. I just happened to mention the guys' responses on the Spotted in UCC post.

"Some people seem to be under the impression it was a gender experiment and we want to emphasise it was not. We simply wanted to see people's reactions to alcohol intake during the day and see if there was a difference between how people react to appearance."

Since the experiment was published on irishexaminer.com, some readers have pointed out that reactions within UCC during the day will obviously differ from a city centre scene at 2am. Katie says they chose to remain on campus to maintain a controlled environment.

"The experiment was deliberately carried out on campus for safety reasons. We also had several people monitoring it. It was very much controlled."

She says the group are delighted with the feedback from their initial post, but they mainly want to focus on the academic side of it.

"Though it's great the public are reacting, this was an academic experiment carried out for a reflective essay, highly influenced by Augusto Boal's 'Invisible Theatre'."

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