While a lot of good stageworks get produced by the college theater arts departments in our region, they always have to struggle with the fact that there are so few meaty parts for young actresses. More women than men enroll in university theater programs, and women make up 60 to 70 percent of US theater audiences; still, fewer than 20 percent of the works presented in American and British theaters are written by women, and men’s roles outnumber women’s roles by half in major theaters across the US.
So in 2010 the University of Iowa’s director of Performing Arts, Alan MacVey, proposed that the Big Ten Theatre Consortium (the group of theater department heads at Big Ten Conference universities) establish a program to commission, produce and publicize a series of new plays by female playwrights, each of which would contain several significant roles for college-aged women. The first playwright engaged by the New Play Initiative was the half-Latina/half-Japanese Naomi Iizuka, known for her non-linear storylines and multicultural themes.
The play that Iizuka wrote under that commission, Good Kids, is now making waves on the broader college theatrical circuit, and this weekend a production presented by the University of Pittsburgh hits the stage at SUNY-New Paltz’s Parker Theatre. Set in a high school in the Midwest and inspired by current events, Good Kids explores the very public aftermath of a sex crime and its cover-up. Who’s telling the truth? Whose version of the story do you believe? And what does that say about you?
Directed by Kimberly Griffin and Lisa Jackson-Schebetta, Good Kids will be performed at 7 p.m. this Friday and Saturday, January 22 and 23, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, January 23 and 24. A post-show discussion will follow each performance.
Admission to Good Kids is free. To reserve tickets or find out more, visit www.newpaltz.edu/theatre/productions.html.