Psychologist, performer and poet, Dr. Michael (Mykee) Fowlin stirred strong reactions among the Marlborough student body. Using several different personas, Fowlin drew awareness to the need for tolerance.
Dean of Student Life and Assistant Division Director Regina Rosi said she brought Fowlin in for an hour-long ASM at the recommendation of Director of Educational and Counseling Services Dr. Marisa Crandall.
Fowlin’s characters highlighted struggles against adversity: a young boy with ADHD, an intelligent, gay football player, a young outsider who wore a sweatshirt that said “hate me,” an Indian-Korean high-school girl experiencing sexism and most controversially, Peter Gould, a boy with Cerebral Palsy, who wanted to be seen as more than disabled.
Fowlin’s performance resulted in mixed reactions in the student body with some students crying and some laughing, and many students disagreeing on Gould, the character with Cerebral Palsy.
Edina ’19 said she thought Gould’s character was offensive because Fowlin doesn’t have the disability.
“It made me uncomfortable because he portrayed a disabled character without any warning and having not personally experienced any form of physical disability; it came o as inappropriate,” Edina said.
Though Edina’s opinion was common, many students, including Lindsay ’19, thought the character was important for making an impact on the audience and showing another aspect of acceptance.
“I don’t personally think the character with Cerebral Palsy was offensive because, first of all, Fowlin is an actor, and second, his intention wasn’t to of- fend anyone. Also, he’s a psychologist, so he’s educated and isn’t acting to be rude or demean anyone with a disability,” Lindsay said.
All of Fowlin’s personas during the performance experienced pain, some rooted in his own personal experiences, but he also spoke up for the need to advocate for others.
“Society has it wrong.They think the only people who need to speak up about an issue are the people who are attached to that issue directly. I don’t believe that. I think it’s just as important for the people who are attached to the oppressors to speak up.” Fowlin said.
Reflecting on his own life, Fowlin shared his personal story of how he was molested by a neighborhood friend and his subsequent guilt, his thoughts of suicide and the clinical depression he has had since he was eight years old.
“At that time I could not see that my pain was my gift,” Fowlin said.
Teaching inclusion, Fowlin pointed out the importance of allies and the little things every- one can do to help.
“I know you’ve heard of random acts of kindness, but that’s not what changes the world. It will be your intentional acts,” Fowlin said.