Something important is happening at Indiana University Theatre next month, something worth talking about. They’re presenting Naomi Iizuka’s “Good Kids,” a new play commissioned by the Big Ten Theater Consortium.
The play deals with sexual violence among young people, focusing on an incident involving a student after a weekend party — something the victim herself can’t remember. But it seems everyone at school is talking about it. With so many stories going around, where does the truth lie?
Some of the cast members took time to talk to the media about this play and how meaningful it is in these times.
Junior Mandy Wenz offered, “This play is important to perform on college campuses because it confronts rape culture in a way that hits home. It’s one thing to tell people that rape can happen to anyone, but seeing the effects of rape culture live, on a stage, is more effective.”
Wenz added, “As an RA on campus, I have been trained to respond to sexual-assault incidents, and it is against my training to victim blame. “In portraying Amber, it’s as if I am playing a younger version of myself, before I had been educated on rape culture. It’s important for the audience to see a character who truly believes that rape is the victim’s fault, so they can see how damaging that is to the victim and to society.”
Senior Kelsey Carlisle shared, “Even though this play is set in high school, it is still very relevant to the college-age group. Sexual assault … happens so much that women feel unsafe walking home at night. This play shows that there are so many gray areas when it comes to what exactly happened at a party and who’s to blame for it. Most of all, it shows that these terrible situations can happen to anyone, whether you play the role of the best friend who didn’t take her home or the guy who was there and watched it happen or … the victim.”
Carlisle’s role is making her work through a lot of old memories, she says. “Kylie has this need to fit in and struggles with it. I remember how how being accepted and liked seemed like the most important thing in the world. I remember dreading going to certain classes because I knew I was going to get left out. I can relate to Kylie’s need to connect with someone. High school is hard. And the girls really are harsh.”
She calls the play “extremely important and relevant to our society right now,” and says that “the great thing about theater is that it can make people see things in a different way. When people start to feel, they remember. That alone can make a difference. This is especially true with our play, and it is absolutely important that everyone be a part of it.”
Wenz also said, “People should see this show because it … deals with things that affect us as a society today. It gives our generation a voice. And we need that. Parents, bring your teenagers. They are dealing with rape culture and social media every day, and they need to know that they are not alone. They need to know that they have the power to make a change — they are going to have to make a change.
If you go
WHO: Indiana University Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance
WHAT: “Good Kids” by Naomi Iizuka
WHERE: Wells-Metz Theater, 275 N. Jordan Ave., Bloomington
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 6-7, 10-14; 2 p.m. Feb. 14