Join us in person at The Clarice! Please note that this event will not be livestreamed.
In what playwright Lauren Yee describes as an “existential slasher comedy,” Hookman tells the story of Lexi, a college freshman who is haunted by the sudden death of her childhood best friend—all while navigating the pressures of being a young woman entering adulthood. The production brings the horror film genre to the stage, inviting audiences to explore themes of grief, trauma and guilt in an up close and personal way.
“Yee’s skill in crafting all the conversations is the great gift of her ‘Hookman,’ and not just for the character-specific comedy and deft social and generational satire packed within them. Beneath all the laughs is a yearning quest for connection and self-definition, struggling to break through the distractions of youth and digital immersion.” — Robert Hurwitt, SFGATE
Concessions: The Clarice lobby concession bar Encore will not be open for food and beverage sales during this event.
Health + Safety
There may be COVID safety policies such as mask requirements in place when you attend this event. Please see our health & safety page for the most up to date information about attendance!
This performance will last approximately one hour and 25 minutes with no intermission.
VIDEO OR AUDIO RECORDING OF THIS PRODUCTION IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.
“Hookman” is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc. www.concordtheatricals.com
“Hookman” is produced with support from the Maya Brin Institute for New Performance at the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies.
Lexi: Isabella Benning
In the car / the Friday of Thanksgiving break
University of Connecticut
West Porter High
“...make them laugh, and while their mouths are open, pour truth in.” - Harold Clurman
Many of the roles I played while studying at the University of Maryland, College Park were comedic—from Griever in Blue Window (directed by Scot Reese), to the title character in Scapin. It wasn’t until my professional life began, however, that I fully realized the transformative power of comedy.
In a world that is fraught with the anxieties of a still existing pandemic and a theatre industry that is still struggling with the ideas of community, inclusion, and equity, comedy and laughter is a radical (and perhaps surprising) response to those of us calling out for social change and justice. Underneath the slick veneer of a 90s inspired horror film, and through the laughably absurd unfolding of events, Lauren Yee presents the all too real issues that young women on a college campus face: from the growing pains associated with being a freshman to mental health to sexual assault. Yee uses comedy to open our ears and hearts before she presents us with these issues, and through laughter she points to a system in power that is inherently broken. We are asked to see these powers as absurd and laughable, not to make light of it, but to instead empower us to find the strength and courage to make change.
It is humbling to be asked back to my alma mater to direct this piece, and I am honored to be directing this talented cast of young actors. After more than a year of virtual work due to the pandemic, I am proud to say that these young actors and this design team have navigated the obstacles thrown at them with grace and humor. The pandemic exposed many social and cultural issues in desperate need of rethinking, reimagining and reworking. It is my hope that the actors you will witness tonight and the work of the design team and crew will—after you have a good chuckle—empower you to see systems of oppressive power as nothing more than an absurd horror film where we all have the agency to change the ending.
--Nathaniel P. Claridad ’04, director
Special thanks to former teachers and forever mentors Scot Reese and Leigh Smiley, Jack Utrata for making me watch horror films, and of course the Claridad family who came to every show at UMD. Dedicated to the class of 2004, and to every student who had the almost impossible task of learning the craft of theater in a pandemic.
--Nathaniel P. Claridad ’04, director
Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault
In the summer of 2014, student Emma Sulkowicz carried a twin XL mattress across the Columbia University campus. This act was part of a performance art piece for their senior thesis, “Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight),” which protested Columbia’s lack of action against a student who Sulkowicz alleged had raped them in their college dorm in August 2012. Sulkowicz’s performance art piece made headlines and brought attention to the issue of sexual assault on college campuses.
In March 2012, Lauren Yee presented her own thesis, the play Hookman, to its first audience. Hookman follows a college freshman, Lexi, who struggles with the death of her best friend while also processing the trauma of sexual assault. Just like Sulkowicz’s “Mattress Performance,” Yee looks at the response to campus sexual assault and the tendency to disbelieve victims.
Though Yee’s and Sulkowicz’s work bring attention to the sexual assault on college campuses in the early 2010s, campus sexual assault remains a prevalent issue today. The Association of American Universities reported that in 2019, 26.4 percent of cisgender female students, 6.9 percent of cisgender male students and 23.1 percent of transgender/genderqueer/non-conforming students would experience rape or sexual assault since enrollment.1 Here at the University of Maryland, multiple sexual assault allegations recently came forward against the fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha, also known as Pike.2 Despite the continuing reality of sexual assault in Greek life organizations at UMD, President Darryl Pines recently told The Diamondback, “I don’t think we have a big problem here in Greek life.”3
At UMD, there were 248 reports, 77 complaints and 14 investigations of sexual misconduct from 2018 to 2019.4 This is almost certainly an undercount of the number of cases of sexual misconduct on campus. Guilt, fear of reprisal, lack of trust in law enforcement and numerous other factors result in significant underreporting. According to the Department of Justice, from 1995 to 2013, only 20 percent of female students from the ages of 18-24 who are victims of rape or sexual assault reported to law enforcement.5
The denial and invalidation of one’s own experiences is something that Lauren Yee explores in Hookman through the aesthetics of 90s teen slasher films. Characters might hear things no one else can hear, find blood in places it shouldn’t be or feel as if they’re being followed. Much like Sidney Prescott seeing Ghostface everywhere she turns in the film Scream (1996), for Lexi, it becomes difficult to parse out what is real and what is paranoia. Lexi learns to discount her own perception because the monster that haunts her is too horrible to be real.
Lexi’s struggle with her own perception reflects many victims’ experiences with the aftermath of rape and sexual assault. Victims’ recognition of their experiences as assault is oftentimes muddled by a culture that is predisposed to doubt their claims. In Sulkowicz’s case and the cases of many other victims, allegations are oftentimes disregarded by universities and law enforcement. In many ways, Lexi finds herself isolated in college, and the denials, judgments and preconceived notions about rape that surround Lexi cause her to doubt the severity of her experiences. Perhaps this lack of support is why her assault goes unreported.
Going into this play, you might ask: How do we perceive victims and perpetrators? What narratives surround both? Where are our biases? And most importantly, what can we do in our communities to create a culture that discourages sexual assault and supports victims?
--Emily Zhou, dramaturg
Update (10/25/21): Following weeks of pressure from students, UMD has once again suspended Pike.6
1 David Cantor, et al. “Report on the AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct,” The Association of American Universities, Jan. 17, 2020.
2 The Interfraternity Council. “Statement Regarding Recent Sexual Misconduct Allegations Involving the UMD Greek Community,” Sept. 17, 2021.
3 Diamondback Staff. “‘We demand change’: UMD students rally for more action against sexual assault on campus,” The Diamondback, Oct. 9, 2021, https://dbknews.com/2021/10/09/umd-sga-rally-red-zone-sexual-assault/.
4 OCRSM. “Student Sexual Misconduct Report 2018-2019,” OCRSM.
5 Sofi Sinozich and Lynn Langton. “Rape and Sexual Assault Victimization Among College-Age Females, 1995–2013,” BJS, Dec. 2014.
6 Clara Niel. “UMD suspended recognition of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity this month,” The Diamondback, Oct. 23, 2021, https://dbknews.com/2021/10/23/umd-pi-kappa-alpha-fraternity-suspension/.
Max Abramovitz (Hookman) junior theatre performance major. Presidential Scholar. UMD credits: She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms (Miles), Machinal (Priest). Outside Credits: The Heart of Robin Hood (Much Miller).
Emma Bailey (Kayleigh) senior English and theatre double major. Creative and Performing Arts Scholar. UMD credits: Orlando (Ensemble), Please Like Me (Precipice), A Doll House (Krogstad). Outside credits: Starfish (Celeste/Reflection).
Isabella Benning (Lexi) senior theatre performance and criminology/criminal justice double major. Banneker/Key Scholar. UMD credits: Machinal (Stenographer/Defense Lawyer), Fearless New Play Festival (Ayaa, By Grace Part 2), A Doll House (Anne-Marie), Flyin’ West (Frank u/s). Outside credits: Company (Marta, 32 Bars), Hamlet (Guildenstern, Maryland Shakespeare Players).
Nathaniel P. Claridad (director) is a proud alum of the University of Maryland, College Park, class of 2004. Directing credits include Weathervane Theatre, Southern Rep., Two River Theatre, PlayMakers Repertory Company, the One Minute Play Festival, New York Shakespeare Exchange, Peculiar Works Project and a Drama League Resident in 2019 & 2016. He is also co-founder of Broadway Twisted, an annual event in North Carolina benefitting NCAAN and BC/EFA. Acting credits include Here Lies Love (The Public Theater), Taylor Mac's 24 Decade History… (St. Ann's Warehouse) and numerous regional and international credits from the Kennedy Center to the Sydney Opera House. Upcoming: directing Mr. Popper’s Penguins at Imagination Stage.
Hannah Damanka (Kayleigh u/s) junior theatre performance major. UMD Credits: Fearless New Play Festival: RAPunzel (Jenna).
Kailee Goldberg (Yoonji) junior theatre major. UMD credits include: New Beginnings Musical Theatre Revue, A Doll House (Dr. Rank U/S), Second Season’s Soundtrack (Alice). Outside Credits: Company (Jenny). Artistic Director for Kreativity Diversity Troupe and UTAS Director of Advocacy.
Chris Henrriquez (assistant lighting designer) first-year M.F.A. lighting design candidate. This is Chris’s first time working on a production at UMD and he couldn’t be more excited! A California native, he has worked extensively around the SoCal area and the Disneyland Resort.
Alie Karambash (Adam, Sean u/s) senior theatre major. UMD credits: Second Season: Soundtrack and Triumph of Horus.
Roxanne “Roxy” King (Chloe) senior theatre performance major. UMD credits: Orlando (chorus). Outside credits: Hair the Musical (ensemble/Lincoln), Compleat Female Stage Beauty (Miss Frayne), A Black Lady Sketch Show on HBO (flash mob dancer).
Madeline Kline (fight captain, assistant fight and intimacy director)
Mel Mader (assistant stage manager) junior theatre and English double major. Environment, Technology, & Economy College Park Scholar. UMD credits: Fall 2020 M.F.A. Dance Thesis (assistant stage manager), Cepheus (costume designer).
Jenny Male (fight choreographer) is a certified teacher with the Society of American Fight Directors and a certified intimacy director with Intimacy Directors and Coordinators. Jenny has worked as the fight and/or intimacy choreographer for Arena Stage, Ford’s Theatre, Rep Stage, Everyman Theatre, Constellation Theatre Company, Factory 449, Adventure Theatre, Imagination Stage, Maryland Opera Studio and Maryland Lyric Opera. Jenny is associate professor of theatre at Howard Community College and is a member of SDC.
Lisa Meyerovich (Jess u/s) junior psychology and theatre performance major. UMD credits: Machinal (Boy, Small Boy, Barber). Outside credits: Peter and the Starcatcher (Molly Aster), Much Ado About Nothing (Conrad), Spamalot (Historian), The Laramie Project (Sherry Johnson).
Safiya Muthaliff (assistant stage manager) third-year technical theatre major. Outside credits: Black Flute, IN Series (stage manager). Montgomery College: My aMeriCa 2021 (stage manager), She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms (assistant stage manager), As You Like It (assistant sound operator).
Ryan Nock (Sean, Hookman u/s, assistant fight captain) second-year theatre and history major. Creative and Performing Arts Scholar, Presidential Scholar. Outside credits: Much Ado About Nothing (Don Pedro).
Tosin Olufolabi (sound designer; she/her) is a sound designer, deviser and facilitator. Her designs include The Wind in the Door, The Adventures of Xenia Oya (Kennedy Center TYA); Ghost/Writer (Rep Stage); In the Middle of the Fields (Solas Nua); Hi, Are You Single?, Gloria (Woolly Mammoth); Sherlock Holmes, Loveday Brooke & Lovers’ Vows (We Happy Few); My Barking Dog (Edge of the Universe Players 2); Sleep Deprivation Chamber, School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play (Round House Theatre); Ties That Bind, Caucasian Chalk Circle & Antigone (Catholic University); Peepshow (dog & pony dc); Abortion Road Trip & Soldier Poet (Theatre Prometheus); Lela & Co. (Factory 449).
Leah Packer (Chloe u/s) junior theatre performance major. Creative and Performing Arts Scholar. UMD: New Beginnings (Performer), Ice Room (Donna). Outside: Like Other Girls (Narrator), Life During Quarantine (Jules), Santa's Got Talent (Holly), She Kills Monsters (Gabbi), Kindertransport (Faith).
Stephanie Parks (costume designer) Stephanie Parks is in her second year pursuing an M.F.A. in costume design. Her UMD credits include Overscore. Before coming to UMD, Stephanie was the resident costume designer and costume shop manager at The Hippodrome State Theatre in Gainesville, FL. Hippodrome credits include Million Dollar Quartet, Scrooge in Rouge and Miracle on South Division Street. Stephanie is a founding member of Submersive Productions, an immersive theater company based in Baltimore, MD. Submersive credits include Mesmeric Revelations and H.T. Darling’s Incredible Musaeum.
Sean Preston (projections designer) third-year M.F.A. candidate in projection design. His design credits include Subject to Change (Kogod Theatre, UMD), Black Madonna & Miss America (Kogod Theatre, UMD), The Diary of Anne Frank (The Rose Theatre), West by God (Keegan Theatre), and Tolstoy Stories (Carol Belk Theatre). Upcoming: Is Edward Snowden Single (Single Carrot Theatre).
Jordan Resnick (assistant director) senior theatre major and rhetoric minor. Creative and Performing Arts Scholar, Presidential Scholar: UMD credits: The Revolutionists (assistant director), Please Like Me (playwright), I Have an Idea for a Play (playwright), She Kills Monsters (ensemble), The Visit (ensemble), Pleonasm (playwright).
Heather Reynolds (lighting designer) second-year M.F.A. candidate in lighting design. UMD: Owen Wingrave (Maryland Opera Studio). Additional credits include Urinetown, Assassins, and The Laramie Project for Southern Utah University, Hamlet (Utah Shakespeare Festival), The Buddy Holly Story (The Palace Theatre in the Dells) and A Christmas Story (Arizona Broadway Theatre). She has also worked with The Old Globe, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Maine State Music Theatre and Sundance Summer Theatre.
Mollie Singer (scenic designer) M.F.A. candidate in design, expected graduation Fall 2021. Recent credits: Subject to Change (University of Maryland, scenic design), Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed…(Imagination Stage, scenic design, canceled due to COVID-19), She Kills Monsters (University of Maryland, scenic design) Souvenir (Rep Stage, scenic design), Lady Day at Emerson’s… (Rep Stage, scenic design), True West (Rep Stage, properties), The Heidi Chronicles (Rep Stage, Properties), Dorian’s Closet (Rep Stage, properties), What Every Girl Should Know in Rep with Dry Land (Forum Theatre, properties) H2O (Rep Stage, properties), Richard III (Chesapeake Shakespeare Co., properties), American Hero (Rep Stage, properties), Hunting and Gathering (Rep Stage, scenic design), The 25th Annual...Spelling Bee (HCC Art’s Collective, scenic design/properties), Sunset Baby (Rep Stage, properties, assistant costume designer).
Kennedy Tolson (Lexi u/s) junior theatre performance and communications double major. Business minor. UMD Women's soccer team. Big Ten Distinguished Scholar UMD credits: Orlando (Sasha), Tiny Ruins (woman), Breath, Boom (Cat). Outside credits: Klecksography 2020: American Mythos (Vivian).
Kate Wander (stage manager) senior theatre major with arts leadership and business minors. Creative and Performing Arts Scholar. Undergraduate Theatre Artists Society President. UMD credits: 2020 Fearless New Play Festival (stage manager), She Kills Monsters (ASM), Flyin' West (assistant stage manager), The Heidi Chronicles (assistant stage manager). Outside credits: Working in DC (PA).
Brian Wilson (Adam u/s) junior theatre and dance performance double major. UMD Credits: Second Season Triumph of Horus (Horus), Second Season Doubled Bodies (dancer), Orlando (Chorus, Captain).
Emily Zhou (dramaturg, Jess) senior theatre and economics double major. Honors Humanities, Presidential Scholar, Kreativity Diversity Troupe. Garry Garrison Regional Finalist, You Are A Pirate. Artistic intern at Playwrights Foundation, Bay Area Playwrights Festival 2020. UMD credits: Fearless New Play Festival 2020 (assistant dramaturg), Noises Off (Brooke u/s), The Muses: Peach Blossom (director), Fearless New Play Festival 2019, The Vagina Monologues, Second Season’s Hell is a Bubble Tea Shop.