In August 2012, a small town in Ohio made headlines for a rape case. This week, the case and the issues that it raised take the big stage in the Ohio State production of “Good Kids.”
“Good Kids” is a play that explores the concept of whether a person is a “good kid” or if they become a “bad kid” after doing a terrible thing. “Good Kids” is loosely based on the Steubenville High School rape case, said Zak Bainazarov, a fourth-year in computer science with a minor in theater.
The play starts with a group of high school students — four football players and seven female characters. They attend a party, and one of the girls, Chloe, is later raped by the football players.
“Good Kids” is part of the Big Ten Theatre Consortium where Big Ten schools commission female playwrights to create roles that help empower women. The playwright for “Good Kids” is Naomi Iizuka, head of playwrighting at the University of California-San Diego and one of the playwrights involved with the consortium. This is the first play to be put out for production by the consortium.
Bainazarov is also one of the actors in “Good Kids.”
“I really love acting, and this is a play that has a huge impact; it’s telling a story that matters, it’s close to home … A lot of us know someone who has, unfortunately, been in that situation,” he said.
Bainazarov added that he hopes a story of this importance makes an impact in the community, big or small.
He will play Ty, the character that actually initiates the rape in “Good Kids.”
“It’s a really intense role because I have to play someone, who to me, is a horrible person. But, there is value in that because every day I get to explore depths of bad human emotions and human desires,” he said.
Bainazarov added that he finds value in the chance to step out of his comfort zone and dive deeper into being an actor by playing this role.
Another actor in the play is Sara Perry, a first-year MFA student in theatre. She plays Amber, the “mean girl” archetype in the story
“I’ve had a very interesting experience from reading the play to working on it. When I first read the play, one of the things that’s so powerful about it is that it really starts a dialogue about a subject matter that can be difficult to talk about,” Perry said. “The playwright really presents a lot of stereotypes and myths that we, as a culture, perpetuate and feed into.”
The “mean girl” is just one of several archetypes that plays into the story that Iizuka has created.
“You can see these archetypes on stage and everyone can kind of relate to them but on a deeper level, and what makes the playwright so brilliant is that she’s really putting those (archetypes) out there so the audience can identify them and ask really difficult questions about this all-American football player,” Perry said. “He’s a good kid, but he did this horrible thing. So, how do we justify what that says about who he is, where he comes from and our reaction to it as a community?”
At the end of each performance, the Sexual Assault Response Network of Central Ohio will speak and answer any questions that the audience might have about sexual assault and rape.
The play is set to premiere Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Bowen Theatre located at the Drake Performance and Event Center. The play will run until Nov. 1.