Teen Play Explores The Complexities Of Date Rape

Juneau-Douglas High School seniors Robert Newman and Brita Fagerstrom star in the play “Hush.” (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)
Juneau-Douglas High School seniors Robert Newman and Brita Fagerstrom star in the play “Hush.” (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

Five Juneau teens star in a play about the complexities of date rape. The show is called “Hush,” but the teens hope the audience do exactly the opposite.

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“And I could’ve said something, you know. I mean, I said no, but I could’ve said something else or fought harder or fought even more or, I don’t know, something like that …”

Brita Fagerstrom rehearses the role of Kim Tuesday night at Juneau-Douglas High School. Kim’s been raped by her boyfriend and consequently deals with depression and getting her life back together.

Fagerstrom hopes the message about consent in the play is clear.

“No means no. It shouldn’t have to be a struggle. It shouldn’t have to be some crazy loud act. Even just saying no in a whisper, anything like that,” she says.

Demaris Oxman, who acts the roles of a parent and therapist, says the play explores how consent often gets muddled in a relationship.

“Rob, Kim’s boyfriend in the play, says, ‘We were fooling around and she may have said that she said no, but I knew what she really meant.’ And I feel like it kind of shows that some people in our culture really do think that somebody has a right to do whatever they want if they’re already together, like that’s a form of consent, but it’s not,” Oxman says.

Robert Newman plays Rob, a character confused about what he’s done and isn’t sure how to deal with the guilt or losing his friends. Newman says Rob isn’t a monster.

“It’s any person, any person who doesn’t listen to their partner can fall into this role. And that’s something we really got to teach our generation,” Newman says.

Ashleigh Watt and Max Blust play the Kim’s best friends in “Hush.” (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)
Ashleigh Watt and Max Blust play the Kim’s best friends in “Hush.” (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

For a group of actors who are used to performing in musicals and comedies, “Hush” was challenging and personal.

Oxman says she had to sub in as Kim’s best friend during a short performance last weekend.

“It was very intense because I had to think about how would I react if this happened to my best friend or to me, and then it became very real,” she says.

Ashleigh Watt, who plays the best friend, says people sometimes don’t realize they’ve been raped or are in denial.

“We see things like this all the time, where to some degree something like this happens, and a lot of times people just ignore it and that’s not OK,” Watt says.

Director Michaela Moore says as a teacher and a parent, she’s heard and dealt with a lot of heartbreaking things having to do with partners not being respectful.

“I just really hope that kids will come [to the play] so they can begin to talk about these things, and girls, especially, can realize it is their right to give consent or not give consent, and that they need to stop letting boys have such power over their life,” Moore says.

She hopes the play makes people feel uncomfortable. Fagerstrom says it will make an impact.

“This show is kind of jarring. It’s putting it in your face and the reason it’s called ‘Hush’ is because it’s a topic you don’t talk about, but this show is about talking about it. It’s about opening up a conversation with the community about it,” Fagerstrom says.

Everyone needs to part of the conversation — children, teenagers, adults — so it’s out in the open. If not, she says, then sexual assault and date rape will continue to happen.

“Hush: A Play About the Complexities of Date Rape” will be performed Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. @360, 360 Egan Drive.