So you’re being stalked…

We performed a scene from Boy Gets Girl at an ITA conference in Arlington Heights last weekend, and along with the sneak peek of the show we also had a conversation between director Steve Scott and playwright Rebecca Gilman. Steve led Rebecca through a wonderful informal interview, talking about her process in writing this script and others. It was a fantastic afternoon, and I was especially struck by a comment from Rebecca about the inspiration for this story.

One of the things that she said sparked her interest in telling the story of Theresa Bedell, a woman who is forced to deal with a dangerous stalker, was a newspaper article that looked at the affects of stalking and offered advice to readers who were concerned about stalkers in their own lives. The advice came in the form of a list of suggestions, and Rebecca described it in the same semi-facetious way we did as we were looking at similar articles in our dramaturgical research; that it comes across as a “So You’re Being Stalked …” brochure (In my mind, it also has a voice-over from Troy McClure of The Simpsons reading the title of the brochure, but maybe that’s just me).

I feel like we need to find humor in these lists of suggestions (here’s one from Stalking Victims Sanctuary) because the suggestions themselves are so real and so terrifying. Rebecca described the list as a series of tips that begin with fairly simple, logical steps (vary your route to work, get an unlisted phone number) and then suddenly drop off a cliff (move to a different city, change your name). There’s no sense of finality to the list – it just keeps escalating until the only options result in destroying your life and your identity in one way or another.

We’ve been talking a lot about stalking in the past couple of weeks of rehearsals, and looking over a lot of research about victims and perpetrators, social and legal support systems, psychological causes and effects, and more. What keeps terrifying me personally is the reality that there’s really nothing you can do – and the advice to victims of stalkers bears that out. It’s a horrible crime, one that robs people of their sense of safety, their sense of trust, and ultimately their sense of self.

As we go through rehearsals we’ll be looking at this more closely, and we’re also looking at ourselves with some brutal honesty. Rebecca Gilman, as always avoiding the easy choices as a playwright, has created a story where not only do we look at the horrors of stalking, but we also look at our own actions and instincts and recognize that some of them are on the same continuum. It’s dangerous territory to explore as an actor (and as a blogger – Gary, who’s playing Howard, has already started the process of online self-examination), and also an exciting challenge.  

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2 Responses

  1. I attended the ITA conference this year, and I found Ms. Gilman to be an incredibly entertaining and gracious speaker. Most playwrights don’t seem to have the personality to address a large group, but she was a wonderful addition to the day.

    I found the scene performed from the show to be very funny, and wonderfully acted. . kudos to those involved. I’m bringing friends from school up in November for the show, and I cannot wait.

    Thanks for the insight into the production and for sharing your craft with us at the conference.

  2. Jacob-

    Thanks – we all really enjoyed the experience of sharing the scene with you, and it was as much of a treat for me as it was for you to hear Rebecca talk about her plays and her process. It’s been really fantastic for us that she’s been involved with us through this season.

    If you’re able, join us for a post-show discussion when you come see the show (and give the box office a call at 773.871.3000 if you’re bringing a group of 10 or more to talk about a group rate).

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