At LaGuardia Community College, Visiting Fulbright Scholar Steven Gilbers discusses African-American English through the comparison of East Coast and West Coast hip-hop. In a classroom filled with students and professors, Mr. Gilbers proceeds to break down hip-hop culture and the importance of authenticity in the hip-hop community. “Another crucial part of hip-hop culture is this […]
Last July, Abingdon Theatre Company presented STET, a play loosely based on Rolling Stone ’s highly controversial article, “A Rape On Campus,” which was published on Nov. 19, 2014.
Written by Kim Davies and directed by Tony Speciale, the idea of the play came from Jocelyn Kuritsky, who plays the lead role Erika, a young and ambitious journalist. Ms. Kuritsky is a New York-based performer and producer, with recent credits in The Assembly’s That Poor Dream and Ken Urban’s The Awake .
Ms. Kuritsky brings to life the trials and difficulties a journalist may face while writing an investigative article on rape. e play itself details Erika’s journey in which she attempts to bring to light a harsh truth, the gang-rape of a young female college student.
Lexi Lapp, with credits in I Will Be Gone and the Actors eatre of Louisville’s e Markers, plays the college student in question, a girl named Ashley. Ms. Lepp gives us the despondent sight of a traumatized girl who has a nervous breakdown every time she tries to describe the attack, tugging at our heartstrings and making us wipe the corner of our eyes.
In contrast to this, we have Phil, played by Bruce McKenzie, Erika’s editor and boss, whose conversations with the journalist forces out several bursts of laughter, despite the seriousness of the issue at hand. Mr. McKenzie is known for many roles, having been seen as Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire by the New York Theatre Workshop and the title role in Hamlet.
Then we meet Christina, a sweet female college graduate whose upbeat demeanor makes it a shock to find out that she too was a victim of rape. Christina is played by Dea Julien, who appeared in the FringeNYC’s The Seven Little Foys and the Cherry Lane’s Lawnspeople .
The last to appear is loud, arrogant frat boy Conner, whose first appearance in a dance party holding a bottle of beer fits the stereotype perfectly. Jack Fellows, who has credits in One Man and his company, The Brooklyn Actor’s Troupe, plays the college student.
With this diverse cast, we are given many moments of tears and laughter and apprehension. Sometimes, the play makes us stop and shudder, a sense of unease rising within us as we grow to sympathize with the characters.
Like listening to Ashley describing her rape, her words halting and breath ragged: “It was dark. There were six of them. They held me down.” Like watching as Christina sits, unseeing at the audience, her eyes clouded and face completely blank, unable to even speak as the recollection of her abuse shuts her down.
Like seeing Conner shout at Erika, “Well, you’re sexist! To your own gender!”
Like hearing as Erika breaks down onstage, unable to bear the strain of everything she has had to do only to have the rug pulled out from under her. “I didn’t want this case, YOU GAVE ME THIS CASE!” And Phil, Erika’s support and our own in this turbulent setting, who loses his journalist’s trust in an instant. “I don’t have a daughter. I have a son.” The Rolling Stone article, “A Rape On Campus”, was retracted on April 5, 2015 because of significant discrepancies in evidence. But, with this play, it is clear the article has not been forgotten. In fact, I would say that it brings to light a whole new thought.
How far would someone go if only to make people see?
The greatest factor in this play is that every single person has something hidden. Erika, with her own dark past, repeatedly stating that it never happened. Ashley who only wished for people to look and see. Christina who tries to keep a smile on her face and move on. Conner and his attempts to relieve the pressure on his life. Phil who, though coming off as sympathetic and understanding, only feels callous at the end.
The title that is given, STET, is a word used by many writers, editors, anyone who works in the literary profession. Placed at the end of sentences and paragraphs, it gives the meaning of let it stand. Do not change anything. There is nothing to change. Stop.
But reading something in an article that only provides a minimal view of something that can be seen in person and live is different. So why not take a look? What will you see?