King County Sexual Assault Resource Center’s Rachel Taylor and LifeWire’s Ward Urion lead a talk back session after Mercer Island High School drama’s production of “Good Kids” on Jan. 26. Katie Metzger/staff photo

King County Sexual Assault Resource Center’s Rachel Taylor and LifeWire’s Ward Urion lead a talk back session after Mercer Island High School drama’s production of “Good Kids” on Jan. 26. Katie Metzger/staff photo

Play at Mercer Island High School sets stage for sexual assault conversation

The student actors in ‘Good Kids,’ based on the 2012 Steubenville rape case, want to start a dialogue.

Last spring, Mercer Island High School drama teacher Daniela Melgar set the performance lineup for her students. She selected “Good Kids” — based on the 2012 Steubenville rape case — as the winter play, but had no idea at the time how relevant it would be in 2018.

Because of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the national conversation was focused on sexual assault and consent during the rehearsal and production process. The student actors say they are ready to start a dialogue in Mercer Island as well.

“We’ve reached what I hope is a turning point and we must have this conversation,” Melgar wrote in her director’s notes.

In the play, a high school student, “Chloe,” played by MIHS seniors Sophie Hankes and Augusta Norman in the show’s dual casts, drinks some vodka, wears a short skirt and goes to a party across town with her friend and her cousin. She leaves with a group of football players, but doesn’t remember anything that happens for the rest of the night.

She later learns that the boys sexually assaulted her while she was passed out, and that they videotaped, photographed and live tweeted the whole thing, leaving her and the rest of the community to grapple with the very public aftermath.

Representatives from the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center and LifeWire led workshops with the students to talk about rape culture, misogyny, toxic masculinity and victim blaming, and agreed to host “talk back” sessions with the actors and audience after the Friday night performances of “Good Kids.”

Parents, teacher and peers in the audience had a chance to ask questions about the students and the emotional impact of telling this story, the schools and how they can teach prevention and consent and the community and how it can help open the dialogue about sex, alcohol and social media with young people. Another session will be held on Feb. 2.

The characters, and the actors who play them, were surprised by the reactions of parents, teachers and coaches to the incident, and wondered what the role of adults usually is, and what it should be be, in cases like this.

King County’s prevention services coordinator Rachel Taylor said that sexual violence persists because it is “continually shrouded in silence and shame.” An audience member noted that many survivors don’t come forward because they can be doubly victimized — first by their assaulter, and then by a culture of “slut shaming.”

Taylor said that Mercer Island needs to redefine itself as a place where these issues are talked about, and that is a safe space in which survivors can come forward. The students said that they learned the importance of empathy, and looking out for each other. They also said that they appreciated the resources already available at their school, including counselors Cathy Gentino and Chris Harnish and student resource officer Art Munoz.

LifeWire’s social change manager Ward Urion said that some colleges and schools have started offering prevention classes for bystanders. He also said that human sexuality needs to be discussed more openly and earlier, starting in middle school. Teachers in the audience said that though these discussions may be uncomfortable and that they don’t have all the answers, they are ready to start working through these issues together.

“Young people are ready to have this conversation, and us adults need to get on the same page,” Taylor said.

Read more here.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@mi-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.mi-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

[flipp]

More in Life

Car review: 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line
Car review: 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line

By Larry Lark, contributor Sometimes it’s better to zig when the competition… Continue reading

2021 Mercedes Benz GLB250 4MATIC. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Mercedes Benz GLB250 4MATIC

By Larry Lark, contributor The 2021 GLB250 4MATIC is a brand-spanking new… Continue reading

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe High Country. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe High Country

By Larry Lark, contributor In the overcrowded SUV market niche, if you’re… Continue reading

2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Car review: 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

By Larry Lark, contributor How do you top the 2021 Dodge Durango… Continue reading

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat AWD
Car review: 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat AWD

By Larry Lark, contributor If you want something truly special, get in… Continue reading

2021 GR Supra 2.0
Car review: 2021 GR Supra 2.0

By Larry Lark, contributor Cars seem to be built for stages of… Continue reading

2021 Genesis G80 RWD 2.5T Prestige
Car review: 2021 Genesis G80 RWD 2.5T Prestige

By Larry Lark, contributor The 2021 Genesis G80 RWD 2.5T Prestige is… Continue reading

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport
Car review: 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport

By Larry Lark, contributor Subaru has made a few tweaks to improve… Continue reading

T
Car review: 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

By Larry Lark, contributor The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab Custom… Continue reading

2021 Lexus NX 300h
Car review: 2021 Lexus NX 300h

By Larry Lark, contributor The 2021 Lexus NX 300h luxury sports utility… Continue reading

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe High Country
Car review: 2021 Chevy Tahoe 4WD High Country

By Larry Lark, contributor Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) for short, in the… Continue reading

Mazda’s 2021 CX-5 compact sports utility vehicle. Courtesy photo
Car review: Mazda’s 2021 CX-5 compact sports utility vehicle

By Larry Lark, contributor Mazda’s 2021 CX-5 compact sports utility vehicle continues… Continue reading