The dark side of social media


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Most of the time, social media are a harmless, even mundane platform for tweeting passing thoughts and advertising one’s lunch on Instagram. But all too often, social media are used as a weapon, as a new University of Iowa Mainstage Production explores.

Good Kids will open at the Theater Building’s Thayer Theater at 8 p.m. today, with performances continuing through Feb. 15.

Written by former UI playwriting instructor Naomi Iizuka, the play, loosely based on real events that happened in Ohio, tells the story of a sexual assault that occurred at a high-school party.

Videos, pictures, and other posts from the attack are later shared on social media.

“It’s about how social media have become a huge part of everybody’s life, but in particular, how they function in this play of letting everyone know first what happened and then playing a role in how the perpetrators are dealt with,” said director and theater Professor Alan MacVey, who has taught at UI for 24 years.

Good Kids is featured as a part of a new 10-year initiative encouraging Big Ten universities to feature at least one main-stage production a year written by a woman, with major roles for female actors. After the UI performance, the play will be available nationally. 

“We feel like we’re changing the climate a little bit and adding to what is a movement, which is to bring women into a prominent position in the theater,” MacVey said. 

UI sophomore Taylor Stuart plays Chloe, who attends a party, blacks out, and then wakes up to images and videos of her assault on social media. Although Chloe is at the center of the story, she said, her perspective is not the only one portrayed onstage.

“The narrative leaves room for the audience to decide what happens to these characters after the action of the play,” Stuart said. “Good Kids offers every side of the story, and when we see this assault through different vantage points, the audience can choose what they want to believe.” 

Allyson Jean Malandra, a third-year M.F.A. acting student, plays Deirdre, whom she describes at the narrator of the story.

“She represents the anonymous bystander,” Malandra said. “She’s the audience’s way into the play.” 

MacVey, Stuart, and Malandra said they believe Good Kids can help clarify complex issues people face every day.

“I think that this play is relevant and timely, because we are in a very important wave of social change regarding rape and sexual assault,” Stuart said. “I think that the artistic endeavors are a great and effective way to bring that gray area to the masses.” 

Good Kids
Where: Theater Building Thayer Theater
When: 8 p.m. today-Saturday and Feb. 11-14, 2 p.m. Feb. 8 & 15 
Admission: $5 UI Student, $10-$18 nonstudents 

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