‘Actually’ Explores Sexual Consent vs Sexual Assault on College Campuses

*As many of us send our high school graduates off to college this Fall, there is no doubt the issue of sex, and its consequences, is a talk we absolutely must have with our young men and women before they hit the campus.

Of course this is hopefully not the first time parents have spoken with their kids about such a serious issue, but its a grown-up talk now — not a birds and the bees talk. This means using real life scenarios as examples! Embarrassing stuff. Explaining how trickery and deception can come into play; and WHY they need to steer clear of alcohol and drugs for real. Most importantly, the conversation must center around…

…what consent looks like when it comes to sex.

A new study from the National Center for Education Statistics and the Justice Department claims  sexual assaults on American college campuses more than tripled from 2,200 in 2001 to 6,700 in 2014. It remains unclear if this is because assaults were happening, but were not being reported or if the actual assaults are happening more frequently. Either way, its disturbing.

I don’t know when the language (“No. I don’t want to have sex with you.”) changed, or when things became so murky; but apparently today more clarity is needed between young people who engage in sexual intercourse and then one of them turns around and accuses the other of assault. This is especially important when the accused is left standing there like…but when you didn’t say ‘no’ I thought you meant ‘yes.’

Enter the stage play, Actually,’ currently playing at the Geffen Playhouse in West Hollywood, California. Playwright Anna Ziegler opens the door to a much-needed conversation as her play delves into the aftermath of two Princeton University students who got drunk, had sex, and now must deal with what actually happened. Adding fuel to an already blazing topic, Ziegler’s piece casts two students of different races — the accuser is a white, Jewish girl (played by Samantha Ressler), and the defendant is Black (played by Jerry MacKinnon).

I have yet to actually see the play, so of course this is not a review. I do, however, feel it is an important conversation to have, and if you are in the southern, California area, you should definitely put this on your calendar to see before it closes on June 11. 

In a radio interview with KPCC the playwright talks about how the play came about, and most interestingly, why she saw fit to cast the defendant as Black.

Actually is presented through June 11

WHERE: Audrey Skirball Kenis Theatre at the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles

WHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays. Ends June 11

Tickets: $60-$82

Info: (310) 208-5454 or www.geffenplayhouse.org

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

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