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Millennial Theatre Company tackles sexual assault

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Staff report

YOUNGSTOWN

Inspired by recent events and movements such as #MeToo, the Millennial Theatre Company is producing an original play that addresses the topic of sexual assault.

“The Blame Game” will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday, at Rust Belt Theater Company’s space in Calvin Center, 755 Mahoning Ave. Tickets are $10; call 330-507-2358 for reservations.

Written by Brooks Shatraw of Rhode Island, “The Blame Game” focuses on a teenage student who commits suicide after being sexually assaulted at a party.

Tensions run high as seven of her classmates attend her memorial service. As they try to figure out what happened and how they will move forward, the inevitable question surfaces: who’s to blame? In a story about identity, betrayal, values and societal pressure, the characters realize things about themselves they never wanted to face.

After the success of its first production, “Nothing or All,” the theater company decided to only produce original works, said Joe Asente, artistic director of Millennial.

“This year, we opened up an online search for young playwrights, looking to have their work produced,” said Asente. “We received entries from all across the country.”

After sorting through those submissions, Asente said the board decided on Shatraw’s “The Blame Game.”

“With everything going on in the world, it felt appropriate to produce a play that covered the topics of rape and sexual assault,” said Asente. “The whole idea behind the creation of MTC was to produce content that was engaging and relevant to Millennials, and you can not find a more relevant topic than that in 2018.”

The playwright agreed.

“When I began writing ‘The Blame Game,’ I was extremely inspired by the current status of rape culture in America,” said Shatraw. “Once our president was elected with 19 accusations of sexual misconduct against him, I began thinking about why an overwhelming amount of victims of sexual assault commit suicide. They feel unsupported, they feel disbelieved, and they feel unsafe. I wanted to write a play that would reveal the aftermath of when these victims tragically take their lives.”

Mariah Cresanto, who is directing the production, believes “The Blame Game” appeals to audiences because of its unique approach to the subject of sexual assault and rape.

“The show’s ability to layer these problems makes it more powerful and impactful for audiences,” Cresanto said. “This is a show that dives deep into a problem that we see increasingly in the news media every day. Sexual assault and suicide are subjects that affect so many people and yet are somehow considered taboo. It is important for us to use whatever platform we have to raise awareness.”

The show explores the effects of rape, sexual assault, depression and suicide, and contains strong themes that are not suitable for children under the age of 12.

A talk-back session will be held with the cast and licensed trauma specialist Dr. Jamie Marich and colleagues after each performance. This discussion is optional, but encouraged for all audience members.