Production prompts discussion of rape culture

by Ellen Rossow

rossowel@mnstate.edu

University Theatre starts their season Wednesday with the opening of “Really Really.”

The play features a small cast on a unique set, but even more importantly, a story that intends to make audiences think.

The production fittingly takes the stage following Consent Week, as it explores the emotional aftermath of an alleged rape.   “Really Really” follows a group of college students over a two day period as they share a variety of different sides, views and ways of handling the situation.

“It has a really good compilation of all the different sides and scenarios of what goes on when a rape like this happens,” theatre senior Erika Rosenkranz said.

Theatre sophomore Collin Engler agrees.

“It makes you question your own beliefs when it comes to rape culture,” he said.

The importance of the production doesn’t stop at a discussion of rape culture.

“It also has warnings about drinking and what alcohol can do to you,” theatre junior Emily Carlson said.

According to the cast, the show’s discussion of these topics are just that — discussion. The show is not meant to give definitive answers as to how situations like sexual assault should be handled.

“You’re probably going to go into this expecting some answers, but leave thinking ‘I should go home and talk about what just happened,’” Rosenkranz said.

“That’s exactly what we want,” Engler agreed.

For the first year, First Year Experience classes will be attending the production as part of their curriculum. While the show doesn’t give the definitive answers that some FYE students and teachers may be expecting, the cast feels it is a great show for FYE classes to see because of the various themes and the discussion it poses.

“It is a good play for people to see, but I think people should see it not to be inspired but to see reality,” Carlson said.

The cast believes discussions like the one the show provokes are important because these situations can arise anywhere.

“This could be any party that something like this could happen at,” Engler said. “It could be a rugby party. It could be at a theatre party.”

“You could be playing video games at your house,” Rosenkranz said.

Theatre freshman Christopher Knutson believes a main theme of the show is the ambiguity surrounding many situations in life.

“Not everything is black and white,” he said.

Carlson also believes a theme of the show is to just be a good person.

“Be honest,” she said. “Everything in this play aside, just be a decent human.”

According to the cast, none of the characters are examples of good people.

“There’s not even a good character,” Rosenkranz said. “Everyone will hate everyone at some point.”

Being a character that is the complete opposite of the actor has posed challenges for much of the cast. Both Carlson and Rosenkranz said their main challenge was stepping out of their comfort zone to portray someone very different from themselves.

“Something we’ve all had to power through is none of us can be likeable at all,” Engler said.

“Don’t be anyone in this play,” Knutson said. 

According to Rosenkranz, the story also talks about responsibility for one’s actions.

“It doesn’t matter how much alcohol you drink,” she said. “You did what you did.”

The show also uses modern technology to show how fast rumors can spread.

“Really Really” discusses serious topics in a unique setting, so it is understood that people may be weary of the content.

“Try not to be offended,” Rosenkranz said. “The show is just supposed to make you think.”

To Knutson, the show should be seen as “just an expression of a situation” not absolute fact.

“Come and leave with an open mind,” Carlson said.

“Really Really” opens this Wednesday and runs until Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on the Gaede stage. Tickets are free with an MSUM ID. The show contains adult content and language. 

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