© 2018 by Brian EG Cook

Director's program notes

By Dr. Brian Cook

For many years, I ran a small company which toured an educational show about sexual assault to college campuses and community organizations. It had begun as a show that a friend and I put together while we were still undergraduates, and after each show we would do a talkback with the audience. We often recounted the genesis of the play, which was my friend’s anger that just days after a high-profile rape happened on our campus, almost no one showed up to a Take Back the Night event organized by students. She was upset by the apathy shown by her peers, and she wanted to create a play that would tackle that apathy head on. 

 

All these years later, I realize that I never acknowledged in our talkbacks that I was one of the students who was either too busy (or too apathetic) to turn up for Take Back the Night. I’m sure that I could have given a good excuse for not attending (“I had rehearsal” or “A project was due the next day.”), but I’m also sure that back then I never considered that people I knew were survivors of sexual abuse and assault. I had not experienced it, thus no one else had. 

I’m struck now by how much the play we created back then—called untitled—changed me, for through the many hours of rehearsals and performances and talkbacks over the years we toured, I had the opportunity to hear hundreds of survivors tell their stories. I remember how I felt every single time. Penance for my apathy. 

Now, nearly 20 years after that Take Back the Night event, I am having my life changed further by the story of David Holthouse, and last month, by Our Voices Will Be Heard, the play in which Vera Starbard told her story. So many stories, both told and untold. I revel in the power of theatre to tell these stories, to bring to light injustices, to aid in healing, but it’s not a solution to the problem. The numbers tell me that we all must find a way to confront our fears and our apathy, for there are too many stories, and new ones are being written every day. 

Stalking the Bogeyman is a powerful story, and I hope that in 20 years, you can reflect on how it changed you.

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