Updated as of 8:31 p.m. on Feb. 29 to include video of the Drag Show which took place Feb. 24.

When sophomore Sophie Verrecchia remembers dancing in “Luminosity,” she thinks about the community she found and how everyone she worked with was warm and welcoming. 

“It helped me find a queer community here that I could really be a part of,” Verrecchia said. 

Now, Verrecchia and 81 other students are working together to bring Elon’s student-run LGBTQ+ arts festival back for a second year. Verrecchia said her hope for the festival is for it to continue to grow and become a staple on campus that students look forward to each year. 

“We have people creating of all identities, people participating of all identities,” Verrecchia said. “The goal is that it is a way to unify Elon’s community.”

Last year’s LGBTQ+ arts festival, “Luminosity,” was the product of Elon alum Jack Morrill’s ’23 Lumen Prize research about using queer theory to guide arts administration practices. “Breakthrough” — this year’s festival — hopes to continue Morrill’s legacy, building off of their research and showcasing student creatives. 

“I didn't want it to just be a one off thing,” Verrecchia said. “It was such an incredible thing, and I feel like especially on Elon’s campus, it's a space that needs to be filled.”

This year’s festival includes original plays, a cabaret performance, poetry and open mic events, a drag show and dance pieces. 

Senior Jessica Werfel choreographed one of the dances, “The Stranger in Yourself,” and will be performing it on Feb. 24 alongside seniors Kelsi Sheren and Meredith Peck.  

“As soon as the email came out that they're doing another queer arts festival it really inspired me,” Werfel said. “I knew I wanted to work alongside two people who have been very accepting of me and very supportive of me throughout my four years here.”

Sarah T. Moore | Elon News Network

From left to right, seniors Kelsi Sheren, Jessica Werfel and Meredith Peck rehearse "The Stranger in Yourself" on Feb. 18 in the Center for the Arts. The piece, which Werfel choreographed, will be performed on Feb. 24 in Roberts Studio Theatre as part of "Breakthrough," a student-run arts festival. 

Werfel described her dance piece as a representation of her past, future and present selves coming to terms with her identity.

“Wanting to go back in the past while still pushing to be my best future self,” Werfel said.  

Playwright and junior Laney Lynch introduced her first play, “Cardboard Boxes,” during last year’s arts festival. Lynch described LGBTQ+ artists as “forerunners” who often have to prove their worth in spaces. However, one of the things Lynch said make Elon’s LGBTQ+ arts festival special is how welcoming and uplifting it is to both the creatives and attendees.

“I can only hope that more people will show up to support and also just show up to experience the frontier and experience what freshness is and experience what queer prospective can do and increase your empathy as a human being,” Lynch said. 

A stage reading of Lynch’s newest play, “Sororophobia,” will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 23 in Yeager Recital Hall.

Senior Matthew Bobzien is one of three members of the festival’s steering committee, alongside Verrecchia and junior Ella Huestis. Bobzien said the festival’s name was a reference to breaking through stereotypes and political and social barriers. 

“Being queer is limitless, but also there are restrictions that are put on us — but we can break through any of them,” Bobzien said.

While the students have received moral support and some guidance from Elon staff and faculty, “Breakthrough” is an entirely student-led endeavor. Verrecchia said she is excited to see how the festival continues to grow each year.  

“This is something that Elon needs. It's something that students care about and want to keep making it happen,” Verrecchia said. “There's something really powerful about this being completely student run and driven.”

For updates and more information, follow @queering.the.stage on Instagram.

Breakthrough schedule of events

Kickoff Celebration

5:30 p.m. | Feb. 23

Isabella Cannon Room, Center for the Arts

“Sororophobia” by Laney Lynch

6:30 p.m. | Feb. 23

Yeager Recital Hall

“Beyond the Rainbow” Cabaret

8:30 p.m. | Feb. 23

Blackbox, Center for the Arts

Poetry Night

10 p.m. | Feb. 23


Dance Concert

11 a.m. | Feb. 24

Roberts Studio Theatre, Scott Studios

Presentation of a new play by Sara LiBrandi

1 p.m. | Feb. 24

Blackbox, Center for the Arts

Dance Concert

7 p.m. | Feb. 24

Roberts Studio Theatre, Scott Studios

Open Mic

8 p.m. | Feb. 24


Drag Show

10:30 p.m. | Feb. 24

College Taphouse

“Outtage” by Riley Perrault

3 p.m. | Feb. 25

Blackbox, Center for the Arts

Closing Ceremony

4:30 p.m. | Feb. 25

Isabella Cannon Room, Center for the Arts