Good Kids: Theatre Tackling Heavy Subjects

Theatre students rehearsing on a stage.
Jared Libby

Slipping into a character’s shoes is no simple undertaking, especially when their universe is overwhelming with adversity. Good Kids, written by Naomi Iizuka and directed by Brüka Theatre’s Holly Natwora, is a theatre performance about an earthshaking, deplorable high school incident. When you delve into its timely subject matter and the haunting inspiration beneath it, you’ll grasp why the production’s substance requests community awareness. Student actors at TMCC approach their roles with complexity and become someone they are not. Their dedication immerses us in the story unraveling before our eyes. It’s commendable how far they’ll go, and when you realize what’s at stake, you’ll feel glued to your seat in anticipation of the coming narrative. It will not be a lighthearted affair, but its voice may transform those neglecting to do what’s right, even if it means their reputation.

Attitudes and Misconceptions

Good Kids is unsubtle with its premise, and the judgments planting conditions where sexual assault is unchecked are issues worth genuine criticism. How we react to those circumstances speaks volumes about our disposition toward self-indulgent behavior, regardless of others' feelings. We begin after the events of a party when a girl, Chloe, is raped by a gang of football players while passed out drunk. She wakes up without any memory of the previous night, her world crashing down around her at school as her classmates exchange venomous words. Influenced by the Steubenville High School case in Ohio on the night of Aug. 11, 2012, this tragedy grapples with an abusive culture and our responses to witnessing an atrocity.

Throughout most of the play, her peers circulate rumors about her, and she feels the consequences of that hateful speech mentally, emotionally, and physically. They post unspeakable photos and videos on their social media accounts, with nobody intervening while the act is happening, deviants who use their platforms to ruin a 16-year-old’s public image intentionally. The responsibility of blame also lies on the silent observers, refusing to make a single phone call to the police for this heinous crime. Questioning the root of why sinister situations like this exist is meant to leave viewers concerned and perhaps even angry. If it remains unspoken, then there’s no resolution for the victims. The worry is that unforeseen, personal repercussions could occur if taking matters into your own hands. So, is it worth the risk? Or none of your business? These are some of the introspective predicaments the drama presents and asks you to reflect on.

Skyler, played by Ciara Robinson, a Theatre Program student, is a lonely outsider who finally alerts the authorities and speaks up, knowing the truth with a desire to help. Observing from afar, she’s the catalyst for morality here. The notorious Amber, and even Chloe’s friend Daphne, ignore the validity of the rape so they don’t have to live with the fact that while unconscious and whisked away, they partied and did nothing to stop it. They’re not the only ones with nonchalant opinions throughout this performance. Unabashedly, the narrator, Dierdre, taps into her past to upend the future of this group of entitled young men led by Connor.

“When I first read the script, I had a hard time because of the material. What caught my attention is how it still happens today to anyone, no matter what gender you identify as. I feel like plays, especially this one, give the TMCC community a better look inside what goes on, bringing awareness to other topics as well,” Robinson said.

Alwin Pizana, a castmate playing Ty, one of the infamous athletes, expressed his optimism for the project and that, while laden with upsetting content, the passion their team infused into this poignant show aims to leave spectators contemplative and emotional.

“My experience has been humbling and educational. It touches on a subject many of us don’t talk about and choose to ignore. By making this, we’re not only illustrating to our audience this happens but is swept under the rug often. Working on this production with Holly and the rest of the cast has been heavy on our hearts but fun to make. We hope the audience will enjoy our hard work. I am blessed to be a part of something memorable and impactful!” Pizana said.

As the characters address numerous societal problems, one standout damaging belief is how women should be more protective of themselves to evade these encounters, perpetuating the notion that it’s somehow their fault. Through honest conversations, a profound change in prejudices can affect our culture in waves as countless students share the message with others. Good Kids communicates these themes to project a revealing and compelling experience for audience members. Tickets are on sale now.

“I want the audience to be aware of themselves and other’s lives because you don’t know everyone’s story. They should care for their actions and words. Chloe’s sexual assault happened while wasted. These ‘good kids’ are like, ‘Oh, she asked for it.’ I’ve never done anything like this, so I’d love it if people were more mindful of what they do or say. Come and see it!” Robinson said.

For more information, visit TMCC's Performing Arts Season Schedule.