Sunday, April 10, 2016

Stalking The Bogeyman - Anchorage Is Location Of The Play And Events In The Play

When he was 31, they found their son's diary that said he'd been raped..  It happened when he was seven.  David Hothouse (played by Devin Frey) tells his story in this play.  How it happened, why he didn't tell anyone, how it haunted him, how he stalked his rapist with the intent to kill him.

Cast discusses play with audience after performance
This is not a spoiler.  I'd read the 2004 Anchorage Press article about the rape when it came out.

I'd heard the This American Life piece David did.

I'd read the follow up Press article that came out last year that named his rapist.

And I heard him testify last year urging the legislature to pass Erin's law (it passed, despite  Sen. Dunleavy)  to require Alaska schools to teach students how to spot the signs of a child molester and how to report suspicions or if something happens.  So I knew most of what was going to happen on stage.

It didn't matter.  The play is riveting.  The story was adapted to the stage deftly.  It's one fast eighty minute ride.  The University of Alaska Anchorage actors are spot on.  Amazingly, Frey plays David at ages seven through 31.  And he's believable in all of them.  Yes, it's his adult body, but he manages to make being seven work effortlessly.  (Well for the audience, I'm sure he put a lot of effort into it.)
The play is especially compelling because most of it takes place in Anchorage.  The story is real.  The actors portray real people.  One of them was the principal of my son's high school.  
But the play itself doesn't preach.  Its instruction is merely reliving David's experience and David telling us about it - how it happened, why he didn't tell, how he had to repeatedly be around his molester, and how it affected him.  
This is an important play, not only because it speaks about the unspeakable, but it's a very good drama.   
You can see it this afternoon at UAA or next weekend.  You can get your ticket online here.  No, I'm not working for the UAA theater department.  I just think it's an amazing play that as many people should see as possible.  And for those of you outside of Anchorage, they are taking it on the road this summer.  The site says 'including "Mat-Su, Homer, Seward, Valdez and Fairbanks." Unfortunately, it looks like they're sticking to the road system. Maybe if other locations invite them, they'll think about coming.

I was thinking, at the end of the play, that we'd gone the whole evening without any humor to relieve the tension.  But thinking back I realized there had been some, but I couldn't remember anyone laughing.  I mentioned this to the director afterward, and he said some audiences laugh, others don't.  Devin said there was some laughter that night, but not much.  Actors also noted the extra tension of acting in front of some of the people they were portraying.  

The psychology department at UAA was also involved in this production.  Working with the actors during rehearsals and there were people there that night.  One student is doing research on theater as a means of communicating important issues and others were there to talk with audience members who might need counseling after the play.   

I got to talk to Devin Frey, who played David Holthouse, after the performance.  I pulled out my camera to take a picture, but he was interesting and so I did a short video as he was talking about learning from David about the role.  It's only about a minute long.  

But don't just take my word for it, you can read the New York Times review of when this played Off-Broadway.  This is the West Coast premier.  

And there's a lot I should have mentioned but didn't.  The director, Dr. Brian cook played an important role.  All the other actors (who are in the top picture) two of whom played multiple roles, and the playwright, Markus Potter, who heard the piece on This American Life and contacted David about making it into a play.  

I have to say, I never understood the spelling of 'bogeyman' since it's pronounced 'boogie man.'

Thanks to the cast and crew for a great evening.  I first included David Holthouse (which spell check keeps changing to Hothouse) in that sentence.  But my comments to David are more complicated.  I'm truly sorry you were raped and then haunted by your rapist for so many years.  I thank you for finding ways to tell this story and hope that it plays a role in helping children avoid what happened to you, and let them know how to reach out if it does happen.   And help parents interpret the  non-verbal signs of abuse their kids send while they try to hide what happened.  And I hope that you can now, or at least soon, leave this behind, and live the life you were headed for before that night.

[UPDATE 9:40 AM:  Again, I'm back.  I left out the most important point of this story  - the silence and denial over the issue of child molestation.  For whatever reasons, this is a huge sickness in our country (and I'm supposing world) that gets way too little attention for its magnitude and horrors.  The statistics I learned last year at the Erin's Law hearings are staggering - one in four girls, one in five boys are molested.  (This ranges from inappropriate touching to fondling all the way to rape as in this play.)  And while we get story after story in the news - today I'm reading about Dennis Hastert - yet we can just skip over to the next article and go on doing nothing.  Being in a dark theater with 100 or more other people watching live actors portray David's story communicates this horror in a way all the newspaper articles just don't do.]

1 comment:

  1. Good to see this process engaged; theatre has always been up to the task. I'm glad David wrote.

    And then there's Hastert. It's remarkable he was such a force for the impeachment efforts of then President Clinton. His hold on power must have felt absolute to him.

    It is true every generation faces the lessons of what our passions are capable of doing. All must gather the pieces, find joy as we can or will and move on.

    Peace, David.

    Peace, Dennis.


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