By Ali Franks, Drama Development Worker
We are currently developing a new Theatre in Education project to address issues surrounding ‘blurred lines’ regarding sexual consent, compliance and acquiescence. We hope to tour the new piece during 3 weeks in the Autumn, visiting every school sixth form in the area, as well as Bridgend College. Key Issues in this project include: consent and the law; factors that obscure the communication of sexual consent; everyday misogyny and the ‘pornification’ of culture.
We are aiming to create a one hour production followed by 2 gendered workshops, facilitated by Ali Franks, Drama Development Worker, working with consultant Director Tamse Preece, and with actors Taylor Andrews, Hannah Reid, Brandon Ashford, and Doug Gray.
The context of this new piece is the Student Event ‘Carnage’ – the young people are in the Carnage T-shirts and fancy dress. The three boys consume a high quantity of alcohol and MDMA and discuss sexual encounters with girls. The protagonist is a funny, likeable character who connects with the audience. The only female character has been separated from her friends. She is known to the boys who invite her to join them. She is an unassuming character and the boys remark on her transformation and acquired confidence through her use of makeup and clothes. After further alcohol consumption including ‘spiking’ a sexual assault takes place. There is ambiguity for the audience regarding the nature of the attack due to the use of alcohol by both individuals, the dress and demeanour of the girl and the ‘normality and likeability’ of the protagonist.
Key discussion points for the audience debates after the performance will include: Safety; Alcohol and recreational drug use; Drink spiking; Reporting a sexual assault; The Law; Legal definitions; The role of alcohol; ‘Fair Play’ and respect; Giving and receiving sexual consent; Exploitation – sexual activity when there is a power/emotional imbalance.
This project addresses many key issues that we believe need addressing and discussing with young people. Many of our partner projects have expressed the need for this type of project that creatively tackles often difficult issues with young people, to help promote dialogue, awareness and understanding, in a safe and creative environment.