Dallas — In 2012, at a high school party in Steubenville, Ohio, a drunk girl was raped by several jocks. It was filmed on a cellphone, posted across social media and watched—but not reported—by many teenagers, male and female.
That incident is dramatized by Naomi Iizuka in Good Kids, which Cry Havoc Theater produces for its first entry in the Festival of Independent Theatres, directed by Shelby-Allison Hibbs (who, for disclouse purposes, writes a column about new work for TheaterJones).
Iizuka deftly mixes documentary and fiction, with narration to the audience and everyday interactions between the students leading up to, and the aftermath of, the crime. “We don’t just know the truth, we see it unfold,” one student says about watching it on cellphones, a statement that also captures the essence of the storytelling style.
“It used to be that a phone was just for talking,” we’re reminded.
Cry Havoc appeared on the scene in 2015 and this is its third production, all of which have used teenagers from high schools across North Texas. This production has 12 students from six schools (Greenhill, Skyline, Booker T. Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Imagine International and Bryan Adams), all terrific in a variety of roles, including mean girls and shy girls. Cara Lawson is Chloe, the student who is violated and then blamed when the football stars get into trouble for their actions. The other actors are: Jonah Goldberg, Trinity Gordon (a standout), Michaela Langford, De’Aveyon Murphy, Evan O’Brien, Vincent Serionel Perez, Daphne Rodriguez, Yesenia Shuman, Trinity Smith, Stakiah Washington and Bailey Wright.
The script works in such topics as bullying, slut-shaming, the dangers of staying silent, the courage of speaking out and, of course, rape culture. Too often we see parents and media apologizing for rapists, especially when the cult of sports is at the forefront. As if having a star swimmer's career ruined is the tragedy.
Using kids who are the age of these characters gives it deeper urgency, and Hibbs’ staging makes smart use of the Bath House stage with just a few, spare set pieces that allow for striking shadowplay (set by Lori Honeycutt). It's active without being busy. An inspired directing choice is having the actors occasionally use the light from their own cellphones to serve as the only illumination. It’s evocative and haunting. (Brooks Powers is lighting designer for the FIT shows.)
One of the best shows at this year’s FIT, Good Kids is a reminder that technology is powerful; and that literally and metaphorically, just because you delete something doesn’t mean it’s gone.
» See more info about the 2016 Festival of Independent Theatres in our special section here, where you can also learn how to download our FIT app. In that app, you'll see a section for the playbills for each company, which includes cast, creative and director's notes.
» See more info about the 2016 Festival of Independent Theatres here
» Read our interview with Cry Havoc founder Mara Richards Bim here
Good Kids is performed in the following blocks:
- 5pm Sunday, July 17
- 5pm Saturday, July 23
- 8pm Saturday, July 30