‘Good Kids’ explores complexities of sexual assault

Photo courtesy of Dale Dudeck

Photo courtesy of Dale Dudeck

The College of Performing Arts explored a the complex issue of sexual assault in its student production of playwright Naomi Iizuka’s “Good Kids,” directed by professor James Gardner. The play had its opening night at Chapman on Oct. 11.

Set in a small midwest town, the play tells the story of Chloe, a high school student, after she is sexually assaulted by a group of football players. The Panther sat down for a Q&A with junior screen acting majors Pascale Vinkhuyzen and Aurelio De Anda, who played the roles of Chloe and Tanner in the play.

“Good Kids” runs until Oct. 22 in Moulton Hall. Tickets are $10 for Chapman students.

Pascale Vinkhuyzen

Q: Why did you choose to participate in this play?
A: Well, the things that I should say are it’s an important story and I was excited about the script, but I have to audition because it’s my major.
I would have come out for “Good Kids” anyways, because I think it’s an important story and it’s really nice to play characters that are (of our age range).

Q: What was your character’s role?
A: Chloe is a 17-year-old girl. She’s from Ohio, she’s from a tiny town, she’s a single mom. She is outgoing and excited, she’s bored in her little town. And I think that’s a big part of it, in the context of the show.

Q: What was the most difficult or challenging part in the production?
A: It’s hard because in acting there’s a certain critical separation, finding that line between yourself and the character. It’s hard for me to separate, and remind yourself that you’re safe, this is a safe environment, we’re acting, we’re practicing; and being able to go to those safe places in order to present a compelling final product. That was challenging.

Q: What is the most interesting thing that happens during the production?
A: One thing that we had to end up instituting, just for our own mental health, is before the show each of the boys would come to me and give me a hug and say goodbye, so that they can go and play their characters to the fullest extent of their ability and not have to worry about me. And that also helps me, too, with the critical separation, keeping the two things separate. But for those 90 minutes, you know, Chloe’s very isolated in this show. And that ended up being a part of rehearsals too, is me being very isolated from the rest of the cast.

Q: What do you think this play says about our culture?
A: It’s ironic that our final dress rehearsal happened right when the tapes of Donald Trump were released. Some of the transcripts from some of his comments are literal lines from the show. You know, he’s talking about women, with legs, and we were all— it was jarring. Just the idea that, you know, “Oh it’s just words, it’s just joking.” You know, that’s something I hear a lot and I think that there’s the important thing that the show puts forward is that words have power. The things you say have power. And words are the first step to action, and that’s something that should really be looked at in this play. So that’s something that we instituted that was really helpful for me, just to have that kind of moment of goodbye.

Aurelio De Anda

Q: What is your character’s role in the production?
A: My character’s name is Tanner. He was the running back for the football team. However, he was also friends with Skyler, the girl who ends up calling 911. However, just like being friends with the whole football scene, I guess he was just always the outcast, and he always tries really hard to fit in. So when things started to get out of hand little by little, he kind of compromised even though internally in his morals he knew it was wrong, what was happening. My character was kind of in the middle. He was the bystander, essentially.

Q: What relevance does “Good Kids” hold in today’s society?
A: I think it’s super relevant. the first thing that comes to mind is Donald Trump with what he just recently said about “locker room talk.” I feel like, as a football player – the role that I portrayed – me and the rest of the boys, I mean, we’re in those locker rooms. And a lot of the things that are said in the play are kind of similar to what Donald Trump was talking about during the debate. Another example, Brock Turner, with that case. It’s a similar case to the case that’s portrayed in the story. And it’s just proof that this play was written years ago – not too long ago – even though it was maybe a couple years back, it’s still relevant today, as relevant as it was a long, long time ago. And so I think it’s timeless.

Q: I was speaking with professor James (Gardner) yesterday, and he told me you had a huge role in the production, especially the music part. Do you want to talk about that?
A: Yeah, it was funny. When I auditioned, on my resume, one of my special skills was beatboxing and freestyle rapping. And after I did my monologue, he said, ‘Well so your resume says this; can you, uh, can you freestyle rap for us? And beatbox?’ And I said sure. So I beatboxed for a little bit. And then he gave me a word to freestyle to, and I just went off the top of my head and I started freestyling. And he really liked that because he said the play needs to have a really genuine party vibe to it in order for it to feel real.

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