Wow. So last night Ripped was read in San Francisco Playhouse’s Monday night reading series. It was an incredible experience. Everyone at the Playhouse was so supportive and generous, and my director, Claire Rice, and cast, Lindsey Schmeltzer, Ron Chapman, and Thomas Gorrebeeck, were absolutely brilliant. I was also very proud of where the script was at, I got laughs and uncomfortable silences at all the spots I’d wanted them. The talkback though, was a little intense.
The funny thing is that my director, Claire, had 100% predicted this. She’d joked once about how this play could start a riot. There was no rioting in the theater, but it was one of the most heated talks after a show that I’ve ever seen. And though I was also prepped on how the audience would most likely respond to the subject matter, I was still pretty surprised. Ripped deals with rape and consent, and all the confusing complications that go with it. When I took on this subject, I knew instantly that I wanted to write a play that questioned not yelled at its audience. That pushed where the audience would or wouldn’t consider the line of consensual sex and rape. A play that would be driven by character instead of the “issue” it was tackling.
But when you don’t tell the audience what to think, they come to their own conclusions. They make assumptions based on the lives and experiences they’ve had, and those conclusions can in fact be the opposite of your intensions. I’m excited for what is coming in Ripped’s future. It feels like a play for right now, and it has the ability to spark discussion on this topic, which was my ultimate goal with the piece, but really, wow. In the play a young man pulls his ex girlfriend on top of him and won’t stop after she’s repeatedly asked him to and during the talkback there were people who raised their hands and said that this was not rape.
But it’s okay. Even though I found that surprising and confounding, because that’s actually why I wrote the play. It’s past time for us all to be talking about this. It is both urgent and important.