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Go to support young women; stay for the talkback after. SLUT closes tonight at Subversive Youth Series

THE BASICS: SLUT, a play by Katie Cappiello presented by The Subversive Youth Series, directed by Kelly Beuth, opened on June 22 and closes tonight, Saturday, June 30 at 7:30 p.m. at The Manny Fried Playhouse, 255 Great Arrow Avenue, third floor (elevator available). (462-5549). www.subversivetheatre.org Runtime: play itself only about 60 minutes but with introductory remarks and actors talkback, about 90 minutes.

THUMBNAIL SKETCH: To paraphrase from the playwright’s website:

Inspired by the experiences of NYC teens, the play SLUT follows the journey of a 16-year-old girl, Joey Del Marco, who is sexually assaulted by two of her life-long male friends during a Friday night out while a third young man remains silent throughout the assault and afterwards as well. Through Joey’s story told in monologue to an unseen lawyer as well as conversations among young people in her community, including her friends on the acrobatic dance group the girls themselves facetiously call “The Slut Squad,” we witness the impact of rape culture and the importance of being heard.

THE PLAYERS, THE PLAY, AND THE PRODUCTION: The playwright is quoted as saying: “The one in five girls who will be sexually assaulted by the time she is 18 deserves, at the very least, to know that withholding consent was and is her right, and the violation she suffered was not her fault, no matter what she was wearing, what she had to drink, or whatever she may have previously consented to. We also need to empower young people of all genders to communicate clearly– to learn to read the signs of consent, to understand how to give consent and receive consent. The time for consent education is now. We’re ready. Students all across the country are ready. And we know you are too.”

As one of the sparse audience on the fourth of five performances, I was ready, and I thought that the small performance space would be packed. Maybe it was well attended during the opening weekend. I hope so. It’s a powerful play, very well directed by Ms. Kelly Beuth, a drama teacher at the Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts, in her eighth annual production for the “Subversive Youth Series,” part of Subversive Theatre’s mission of “Fighting for change one play at a time.”

The actors, all in high school, gave very strong performances with rather impressive timing. A few have acted together since the fifth grade and the entire cast has become very close, they informed us, through working on this play together. All casts grow closer, but because of the emotional content of this production, they became their own support group. Well, they “have it together” as the saying goes.

When you go, stay for the impromptu talkback.

When you go, stay for the impromptu talkback. I’ve attended some awful talkbacks with actors who obviously wanted to take off their makeup and go home. And I’ve attended some talkbacks that, by themselves, were worth the price of admission. I’m thinking of a recent talkback following LIT 401: A School Shooting in One Act with mostly college aged student actors talking about the reality of living in our gun obsessed culture. And I’m thinking about the talkback following SLUT, with high school students discussing the need to move from the rather clinical sex education (which is much more minimal that I would have thought in 2018) to the more important consent education. Yes, the mechanics of sex must be covered, use of condoms explained, dangers of STDs and pregnancy discussed. But that’s not enough, the young women told us.

So, my advice (better late than never) is to help these players have a successful closing night. Tonight at 7:30 p.m. My strong advice is to go.

Written by Peter Hall

Peter Hall

Peter Hall continues trying to figure out how "it" all works. For 20 years, as program host on Classical 94.5 WNED and continuing on-stage with the Buffalo Chamber Music Society, he's conducted over 1,000 interviews with artists as he asks them to explain, in layman's terms, "what's the big picture here?"

As mentioned recently in Buffalo Spree magazine, Peter's "Buffalo Rising reviews are the no-holds barred 'everyman's' take." And, on “Theater Talk” (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO 88.7 FM and Saturday afternoons at 5:55 p.m. on Classical 94.5 WNED) his favorite question of co-host Anthony Chase is simply "What's goin' on?"

A member of Buffalo's Artie Awards Committee, Peter holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from SUNY at Buffalo. For over twenty-five years he has been an adjunct professor for Canisius College’s Richard J. Wehle School of Business.

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