A Night to Remember: “One Night” at UMB

MiMi Yeh

So what do you do when your best friend rapes your other best friend? Did she want it? Was she asking for it? These are the realities and myths that come with viewing the interactive play One Night. Sponsored by the Women’s Center and Health Services, One Night is put on by professional actors broaching the subjects of date rape, acquaintance rape, and the accompanying stereotypes all within the tightly knit universe that involves four friends who are celebrating their last day in college.

Meet Jessica (Heather Dyas-Fried), the pretty, outgoing coed, hanging out with her best friend, the outrageously libidinous Will (August Schulenburg), and the happy couple Calvin (Justin Fayne) and Maggie (Kate Donadio). All are close as close can be, getting drunk together and reminiscing about their college experience and Will’s lack of luck with women. This is how it appears.

Yet, as they progress through different courses within the conversation, the corner easel upon which placards stand change accordingly. As they joke about male superiority, the title for that subject becomes “Sexism.” Not exactly subtle stuff, but this play is meant to be informative, as well as thought provoking. The plot moves along fairly quickly with Will and Jessica making a bet to see who could drink whom under the table: if Will won, Jessica would have to spend the night with him. Supposedly, a year earlier, they’d been together then. They seem like a couple of goofy kids, right? About a third of the way through, the audience gets a chance to pose questions to the cast, with responses in line with their respective characters.

Occasionally corny and definitely dramatic, the climax came, not when Jessica went with Will to “get some wine from my room” in his words, but the second question-and-answer session that occurred once Jessica came back saying she’d been raped. Immediately, Maggie comes to her aid while her beau, Calvin, tries to joke with Will in an attempt to draw it out of him. Throughout the show, Maggie was fairly clear and vocal in her explanations and knowledge of acquaintance rape because, as she confesses earlier, it happened to her. sister.

One Night is obvious in its educational roots but extremely effective in covering such a large area with many subtopics like “date rape drugs,” “emotional coercion,” and the difference between “stranger rape” vs. “acquaintance rape.” Equalogy, a non-profit organization, sponsors the program “PlayRights” (an acquaintance rape awareness program) that puts on plays like One Night. The plays may change but the subject matter remains the same. As Calvin (Fayne) emphatically stated at the end, “We’re not animals, we’re human beings. We can stop it.”

The program offered at the performance is packed with information, including the different methods that rapists may use (i.e. emotional coercion) and the factors, such as alcohol and drugs, that may put some people at a higher risk than others. The leaflet gives a brief discussion on what to do and where to go if you have been raped and the reasons behind rape, itself. The most important thing to remember: it is NEVER the victim’s fault.

This play is carried by the actors’ passions themselves, in the forum-style discussions. Although the actors have no experience in counseling for sexual assault, they have been educated in the issues surrounding equality and violence against women. According to Heather Dyas-Fried, one of the co-founding members of Equalogy, they found that “doing a five-minute play was more effective than lecturing for an hour.”

However, One Night doesn’t just end with Jessica’s rape. The actors go on to describe the aftermath, graduation, and how Jessica faces and deals with disbelief and the loss of someone she trusted. She has Maggie and Calvin’s support as well as that of her family’s. Most striking is Calvin and his astonishment: how could a friend of his do such a thing as this?

Currently, the players are on a fourteen state tour at colleges across the country. To learn more about them or schedule future performances, contact Equalogy, inc. P.O. Box 204, Bloomsburg, PA. 17815 (570) 389-1274 (NY and New England) (570) 387-0186. Or email at [email protected].