NUI Galway Symposium to Critically Examine the Grey Areas of Sexual Consent

Eleanor O'Malley and Conor Gormley in the short interactive consent film ‘Tom and Julie’. Photo: NUI Galway
Oct 04 2018 Posted: 12:13 IST
NUI Galway Symposium to Critically Examine the Grey Areas of Sexual Consent
Negotiating sexual consent Today: What Role Can Performance Play in Changing the Script?
NUI Galway will host a one-day symposium that will bring together leading theatre practitioners and scholars to reflect on performance’s role in critically examining the boundaries and grey areas of sexual consent. The event is free and open to the public and will take place in the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance at NUI Galway on Friday, 12 October from 10am-6pm.
Featuring live performance, film screenings and panel discussions, participants include; Marc D. Rich and company members from the internationally acclaimed US-based social justice interACT Performance Troupe, cast members from Landmark Productions’ adaptation of author Louise O’Neill’sAsking For It (adapted by playwright Meadhbh McHugh), and Lisa Fitzpatrick, author of Rape on the Contemporary Stage.
This symposium puts the participants work in conversation with ongoing NUI Galway-based Sexual Consent research led by Dr Charlotte McIvor from Drama and Theatre Studies and Dr Padraig MacNeela and Dr Siobhan O’Higgins from the School of Psychology, on the role of theatre, film and media in sexual attitude and behavioural change amongst third-level students. This follows on from the researchers’ autumn 2018 launch of their education and awareness campaign, Consent=OMFG (Ongoing, Mutual, Freely Given) designed in collaboration with Drama Theatre and Performance and Psychology students at NUI Galway during the 2017-2018 academic year.
The symposium will also premiere the second of four short interactive consent films Dr Charlotte McIvor has developed with her Drama and Theatre Studies students as part of the Consent=OMFG multimedia public health campaign for third level students. The new film, ‘Kieran and Jake,’ one of a short series of four, was collaboratively written and researched by the students led by Dr McIvor. The interactive film gives the viewer control over characters’ decisions at key points, leading to three possible endings to each film. The four films (co-directed by McIvor and Mick Ruane) portray sexual encounters from heterosexual and LGBTQ perspectives, as well as long-term and casual sexual relationships. 
Dr Charlotte McIvor says: “These short interactive films on consent invite viewers to experiment actively with the idea that one sexual encounter can have many possible outcomes when it comes to the negotiation of consent between partners. Through these interactive short films and the Consent=OMFG campaign, we aim to empower third-level students with the knowledge and confidence to make informed and ethical choices everyday regarding consent in their sexual lives across all relationships, all genders, and all sexual orientations.”
The Consent=OMFG awareness campaign sends out the message that consent should always be ongoing, mutual, and freely given. The campaign amplifies the messages at the heart of Dr MacNeela and Dr Higgin’s ‘SMART Consent’ workshops in order to spread them throughout the campus community. SMART Consent workshops were created through research led by MacNeela on sexual consent and sexual experiences of third-level students in Ireland, in partnership with organisations including Rape Crisis Network Ireland.
SMART Consent workshops have been provided at NUI Galway, UL, QUB, DCU, NCAD and GMIT, with over 2,000 students taking part to date resulting from research data from over 3,000 students nationwide being utilised to design the activities used within the SMART Consent workshops. To launch the campaign, the NUI Galway researchers launched a new report, ‘Are Consent Workshops Sustainable and Feasible in Third Level Institutions?’ last August.
During 2017-18, the researchers trained over 100 facilitators to lead SMART Consent workshops at NUI Galway, Queens University Belfast, the National College of Art and Design, Dublin City University, the University of Limerick, and Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. The report compares Pre-Workshop and Post-Workshop attitudes of 761 of the students who took part in a workshop with those trained facilitators during 2017-18:
This symposium is supported by the School of Drama and Theatre Studies, School of Psychology and the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies Research Support Scheme
The first film, ‘Tom and Julie’ can be viewed at: and the second film ‘Kieran and Jake’ will be available on the same link on the day of the symposium.
To register for the symposium, visit: and search for ‘Negotiating Sexual Consent’.
For more information about Consent=OMFG (Ongoing, Mutual, Freely Given)campaign, visit:
To read more about Smart Consent, visit:
For more about interACT Performance Troupe, visit:

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