For the past week I've been working my butt off to get a first draft done of a brand new play because this coming Sunday I'm having talented folks come together to read it. The play scares the crap out of me. It isn't a horror play either. It's a play about rape.
Let me back up for a quick second and say that in all honesty I never in my life intended to write a play about rape. The vast majority of issue-based plays are boring to me. After the lights come up you quickly discover that you are not actually watching a play, but instead a 2 hour lecture. I do not want to write one of those plays. But, last semester in my short play workshop, I was inspired by something to do with sexual assault and before I knew it, that was a major element of the 60 minute one-act I was developing. As I dug into the characters I figured out that it needed a second act, and here we are. I'm developing a full-length play about rape.
Don't get me wrong, I think that there are a lot of “issues” that we need to talk more about, and people having the ability to turn down sex and have that respected is one of them. I mean, if you look at sexual assault specifically, most folks (me included), find ourselves fearing the crazy guy in the bushes who'll jump out and attack as soon as the sun sets, but that isn't what it looks like most of the time. Most of the time it's someone you know. Most of the time it's a friend. And most of the time we don't even consider this assault because of the relationship we might have with the attacker. And that is what got me going.
My brother started college last fall and when our dad went to parent's orientation a mom there asked if she should arm her daughter with mace. The head of security told her no, because her daughter probably wouldn't mace a friend, and that's who is most likely pose a threat. And we've all been there, right? If I'm being honest, and it's hard to admit, I definitely have. In high school I had very close male friends pressure me into situations that I had no interest in and wasn't comfortable with. But we stayed friends. And no one, me included, thought anyone had done anything wrong.
I'm not saying that I can fix any of this. I wish I could, but I can't. And the play I'm working on, it can't fix it either. I'm only hoping to create a character driven play that doesn't paint neat boxes around right and wrong, but instead makes people think and talk about rape and sexual assault in a new way. It's a tall freakin’ order, and there's a high likelihood that I will fail miserably. But then again I didn't start writing plays because it's easy.
More to come as I plow away at this beast. Oh! If you're interested in well written, disturbing, fabulous plays that deal with societal issues, check out THE NETHER by Jennifer Haley. It's my inspiration to tread in such controversial waters and everyone should read it.
Enjoy your Thursday!