Claire Rice has had enough rape, thank you.
I’ve been trying all day to think about a funny way to say I’m tired of seeing rape on stage. But it’s just not coming to me.
The subject came about because the production year for me has been full of rape. The first play I directed was Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them by Christopher Durang, which I quickly followed up with You’re Going To Bleed by Melissa Fall. Both plays feature rape. In Torture the main character is drugged and violated. In Bleed the teen character has sex with her acting teacher (rape via abuse of power). Just recently I participated in the San Francisco Olympians Festival where the theme was the Trojan War. I’m sure there was a woman in that war who got out un-raped, but I can’t think of who just off the top of my head. I worked hard in my adaptation of Cassandra’s story to keep the sex consensual. It wasn’t easy. And I can tell you after sitting through 11 of the 12 nights of the San Francisco Olympian’s festival that it was difficult to impossible for many of the writers to avoid.
The point is: I’m done. I want 2014 to be a relatively rape-free year. So far, all of the projects I’ve been hired to do don’t have rape. I’m also not writing in any rape scenes into my plays. Lastly, I’m taking Law & Order: SVU out of my Netflix queue. Hooray! So, that takes care of my end. Now there’s just everyone else.
The problem is, rape storylines sneak up on you.
A friend and I walked out of a theatre this year and, over yogurt, decided that the play we had just seen, while well-acted and well written and beautifully produced, was really very “rapie.” The play focused on four young women and, as far as we could tell, all of them had been raped at least once by the end of the play. No man physically walked on stage, but if they were mentioned, they probably raped someone. Every man was an enemy, every woman was a victim. It was overwhelming, bleak, and unnecessary. Can’t a person have trauma without it being rape? Are there no other dramatic devises at all?
I just want to watch a year of plays without rape. Just one year. Is that too much to ask?
How Can I Tell There Might Be Rape In A Play?
I am at any type of festival where there are more than three plays.
There is only one woman in the whole cast and she’s an “outsider.”
There are only two women in the whole cast and one of them is way younger.
It’s an all women cast and they are talking about their pasts.
There is one woman and one man and they are working out their history.
There are two men and they are talking about their history.
There are a bunch of men and they are all talking about their history.
The play is about war and there is any number of women in it.
The play is by an edgy, emerging playwright.
There is a “dark secret.”
It is a “psychological thriller.”
It’s a “modern horror.”
It’s a “gothic horror.”
It’s a “dark musical.”
It’s a sex farce.
I want to emphasize that it’s not that I feel like rape as a topic isn’t an important one. Eve Enlser’s Vagina Monologues is an important work that discuses rape, specifically rape used as a tool in war. A Streetcar Named Desire wouldn’t be the same without Stanley raping Blanch. I’m not saying that the act shouldn’t be in storylines or anything like that. This isn’t an expression of the validity of a storyline that focuses exclusively on rape. This isn’t an argument that rape doesn’t exist as much as it does on stage. This isn’t even about how at some point a play crosses the line from having/discussing rape to being an actual rape fantasy. It’s not a protest against how women are portrayed in theatre (yet).
It’s just…ugh…so much rape. Too much rape. For me. I need a pallet cleanser.
So, just for fun this year: consensual sex.
I mean, that’s doable, right? Right?