Bard College at Simon's Rock: the Early College
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5 Questions with Victoria K. L. Bokaer ’14

MARCH 2023

Victoria BokaerVictoria received their BA from Simon’s Rock in 2018 and is part way through a master’s degree program at King’s College London in Shakespeare studies with a primary focus on trans and nonbinary gender expression in Elizabethan theatre. They work as a collections librarian at the Simon’s Rock Alumni Library and are married to their wife and fellow Simon’s Rock alum Nathaniel Bokaer ‘15, and live in the Berkshires.

Summarize your Simon’s Rock experience in 12 words or less.

I can do it in three. Absolutely life-saving.

What character from Shakespeare do you most identify with at this stage of your life?

I don’t know if I have ever identified with one specific character, but there are many I have been deeply drawn to. They’re never characters I would necessarily want to fully see myself in, Macbeth and Richard III. It’s fascinating to have a character who is awful, evil, and self-serving and yet, also, so human, and in many ways marginalized and put-down. Richard’s disability is really played up by Shakespeare in such a grotesque way that as someone who is also disabled, I have such an intricate relationship with it. On one hand, it is fun seeing such a big role for a character that is so disabled, but at the same time, you see depictions of him that are awful stereotypes. Ones that lean into disability and disfigurement automatically equating with evil.

If you could redo a part of your undergraduate experience at Simon’s Rock, what would it be and why?

Yes. I wished I had participated more in the incredible community events we offer on campus. I wish I had gone to the craft fairs, film screenings, and lectures on campus. I shut myself away doing my academic studies, and focused on homework and deadlines at that time. I wish I could go back, take my blinders off, and engage more in the community.

What is your favorite spot in London?

In Richmond, just outside of London, there’s this little coffee shop at the last stop on the District Line, called Butter Beans. I was working in the Richmond Library system at the time and I’d get a cup of coffee on my way into work. Good vibes, good food. Everyone needs to find their own little place to have a connection to their own community and the people living there.

How has your definition of the word identity expanded through your education in theatre, disability, and queer studies?

My understanding of the word identity has expanded. There’s a lot more room for a gray area. Gender was, in many ways, more fluid in the Elizabethan period with a broader definition. There was more space to explore gender and one’s gender presentation. Seeing the humanity in this throughout history has allowed me to see there’s so much more to people than a label. Through my own studies and personal exploration with queerness, it’s so messy. There are no boxes to check. Labels help us to talk about these things, but you’re never going to be able to perfectly define people. I am giving myself the room to be okay with that and trust I fit exactly where I am now.