|Author||BEAUMONT, Sally - Other Plays by this Author - Contact Author|
The play opens in a dingy room in a community centre, so like many other meeting places for groups. The women are chatting animatedly before the session begins, and the audience are not aware of their purpose. When the session begins Sarah reveals her job, which sparks a great deal of conflict between the woman, and prompts Ester to describe her experiences with The Police. Through their own stories the women begin to discuss their common experience: they have all been victims of rape. The women are in roughly appropriate percentages to the actual crime figures: 17% of rapes are by strangers, 54% by current or former partners. There is discussion on whether their attacks could have been prevented, what action could have been taken afterwards, and whether there is a way of moving forward after rape.
In the second section of the play, set six month later, a new member arrives: Rob. This provokes much fear and anger among the women, as the group offers sanctuary away from men and the threat thereof. After much persuasion Rob admits that he has been raped, and has nowhere else to go. His arrival allows for discussion around the male mindset towards rape, the concept of “urges” and the famous assertion that “all men are potential rapists”. They also deal with his fears about what people will think of him, and whether his sexuality has been altered.
Through the later portion of the play Katie begins to support Rob and they develop a rapport. Katie learns that not all men want to take advantage, and that perhaps she could form a bond with someone and build up trust. Ester reveals that in the interim her attacked has struck again, however this time he has been successfully reported. Although it cannot change her illness, she feels less angry towards The Police. As someone who ahs been through the entire conviction process Suzanne offers her support to Ester and they develop and unlikely bond.
Having seen the resolve of both women, Sarah decides to press charges- it is by no means a happy ending, but it is a beginning for her, and an opportunity to seek some justice for her ordeal.
Wendy still cannot forgive herself for the murder, and has begun to “atone” for her crime by volunteering to help other women, in vulnerable women’s shelters and in other support groups.
Finally Carol, left with no one to look after, begins to grieve. She realizes she has thrown herself so deeply into the project that she has been denying her grief for well over a year. As the session ends the others begin to help her come to terms.
This play was informed predominantly by The Truth About Rape campaign, run in conjuction with Rape Crisis. Their site provides much of the statistics that shaped the stories of the characters and their topics of discussion. www.truthaboutrape.co.uk
|Cast||6F, 1M (minimum 7)|
Ester: Ester is only 30, but seems older. She is tough and has a lot of barriers against human contact, especially men. With Ester there is a constant power struggle, as she hates to feel out of control. Ester was a prostitute for around 15 years. She has developed a necessary business-like approach to sex and had never considered herself to be emotionally involved. She has had lovers in the past but cannot form and emotional attachment- it is hard for her to let down the barriers she has placed between her real feelings of disgust and irritation and her customers.
Last year one of Ester’s regulars contracted HIV. After learning of this she decided to sever contact with him for her own safety. He arrived at her flat demanding sex, and when she refused he beat her and raped her. Ester is HIV positive. The rape has taken away her dignity and sense of power, and the disease has taken away her only way of earning money. Any possibility that sex or men could be loving has been removed from her mind- she is full of anger at her rapist, and the world in general.
When Ester reported the rape she was a known prostitute and had the DNA of three different men on her body. The Police felt it would be very hard to prove lack of consent, and it was argued that her injuries could have been part of the service, or inflicted by someone else. She has a natural distrust of the Police.
Katie: In her teens, Katie was raped by her boyfriend after she refused to sleep with him. He felt entirely justified as she had “led him on”. Katie feels guilty for the rape, and for trying to prosecute her boyfriend. He claims she consented and then changed her mind afterwards. Because she did not struggle it was difficult to prove force and it became her word against his. Katie was 17 at the time and went through the process alone. It is very important to her that her parents think she is a good girl, and they would be appalled at what had happened. Most of all she fears they would blame her, too. In the end she dropped the allegations, and is attempting to act like it never happened. She has a lot of unresolved trust issues and has partially reverted to childhood in an attempt to keep herself away from threatening adult situations.
Carol: A quiet, middle aged woman with a good education and a reasonable nature. She is isolated from the group by her experience and attempts to become more involved by acting as a mother figure and trying to mediate between the members. Her elderly mother was raped by a burglar and later died of her injuries. She has at once lost the most, but at the same time cannot imagine what the others have been through. She feels like a fraud and is too quick to back down, but inside she is still grieving and alone.
Suzanne: A very cheerful, positive woman externally. She has a child by her rapist: her husband. After suffering years of domestic violence she finally decided to press charges against her husband when she discovered she was pregnant. She has experienced a lot of support from the police, hence her kindness towards Sarah, however she endured an extremely harrowing court case to convict her husband so she is unconvinced about the legal system. Her daughter is now six and her husband has recently been released. Although he has made no contact Suzanne is edgy about going out alone etc, and appears to be waiting for a revenge attack. She still carries some belief that it was all her fault.
Wendy: Wendy was “groomed” by a family friend from an early age and was repeatedly raped from the age of thirteen. After two years she tried to refuse, and in the ensuing struggle clubbed her attacker to death. She was considered to have acted in self-defence, and attending the group is the final stage of ten years of psychiatric help. Some of the women think she was right to kill him, in self defence or not, the rest are frightened of her- particularly Suzanne, who tolerated her abuse for far longer. Wendy carries a lot of guilt in her, for the abuse, and for killing her rapist.
Sarah: A Police Officer, she can be very business-like: she and Ester have more in common than either woman might acknowledge. She was raped by a fellow officer, whilst on an observation operation. They were alone in a deserted industrial estate waiting for people traffickers. He felt “no” was merely a playful “yes”. He is very well-respected in the force and she would probably ruin his career if she reported it, and possibly even her own. A local clinic has taken all the forensic evidence but she is too confused at present to press charges. She feels no one will believe her and male officers won’t want to work with her any more. Her boyfriend has left her- she is distant and cannot bear to be touched. She hasn’t told anyone, and is using the group to work out what to do and how she feels.
Rob: An ordinary man. He was kidnapped by two men and a woman- there is a possibility she is an ex-girlfriend. He feels humiliated, not least because the archetypal victim of rape is female. He is frightened that he has been feminised, and that those around him will consider him a homosexual. He feels he has no right to be amongst the women, but has nowhere else to go.
|Status||Work in progress, contact the author for more details|
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Sally started life as a performer, became a stand up and now works as a writer as well. She specialises in the extreme, be that comedy or drama, but also likes to work with subtle dialogue.
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