What does it mean to be a “good kid”?
This blog post is by Emily Schweich, junior broadcast journalism major.
Trigger warning: Rape
“We’re all good kids,” proclaims one character in Naomi Iizuka’s Good Kids, but what does that really mean? Good grades? A football scholarship? Not getting drunk? Can bad things happen to good kids? Can good kids do bad things?
Rape isn’t something that only happens in a “dark alleyway.” It’s not something that girls “ask for.” It’s not something that anyone deserves. And it’s not something that should hide behind a “wall of silence.”
The University of Maryland School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies explores the intersection of technology and rape culture in its first production as part of the Big Ten New Play Initiative, which seeks to promote the work of women playwrights.
The play is based on the 2012 Steubenville rape case, in which a group of football players gang-raped an intoxicated girl after a party and proceeded to take pictures and videos that were shared via Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and text messages.
Marina DiMarzo gave a standout performance as Deirdre, a wheelchair-bound bystander who narrates the story of a small town turned upside down. One might wonder why this outsider cares so much about the case, and when her motivation is revealed, it’s hard not to feel for her.
Antonella Perez-Fererro gives a genuine performance as Chloe, the teen who is assaulted, capturing both Chloe’s vulnerability and desire for adventure. As Connor, the football quarterback, Tom Frances embodies the suave apathy that makes high school football players so attractive, the desire to maintain a pristine reputation despite doing wrong. Avery Collins gives a strong performance as Ty, another one of the teens involved in the assault.
The narrative can be a bit confusing at times, as scenes are enacted, reenacted and remembered from different points of view. But this only highlights how difficult it is to find truth in “facts sorted through subjectivities,” as director Seret Scott writes in her program notes.
Katie Sullivan’s creative set suspends a set of bleachers in the air, situating the performance underneath. Screens lining the border of the stage change throughout the play to feature tweets and blurred images. It’s an interesting metaphor for the incident that rattles this small town, an incident that goes unnoticed by parents and officials until the deleted tweets are released to the media by hacktivism group Anonymous.
The audience applauded a poignant soliloquy by Skyler (Lara Fu), who reported Chloe’s rape after seeing the tweets online. Rape isn’t something that only happens in a “dark alleyway.” It’s not something that girls “ask for.” It’s not something that anyone deserves. And it’s not something that should hide behind a “wall of silence.” Hopefully this production made progress in breaking down that wall.
The UMD School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies' production of Good Kids ran from February 27 through March 7, 2015.