Red Light Winter: A Cause for Conversation

red light

The Melancholy Players production of “Red Light Winter” goes up this weekend. An adaptation of the Adam Rapp book, the play is the group’s second show and is being shown in Bates Basement. Despite being chosen early in September, the play’s storyline is oddly appropriate given the sexual assaults that occurred earlier this year. It does not parallel the incidents, but the production does question consent is a way that fosters debate and continues the conversation.

However, the content of the play may also be trigger for those same reasons. Because of this at the beginning of the play the director, Ethan Moltz, gives the following note:

“The unfortunate string of recent incidents at Sarah Lawrence have rightfully elevated the conversation on rape and consent up to the main stage of the community’s topics of importance, and it so happens, by sheer coincidence, that Red Light Winter is going up in the thick of it. The play will, no doubt, enter into this conversation, and I hope it does, as it’s a great opportunity to add to an intellectual discussion on an extraordinarily complex topic. But this is not a play about rape. I could say Red Light Winter is about sexual obsession but that too isn’t specific or accurate enough. These three characters are suffering from arguably the saddest of common mental ailments: they are lying to themselves so often and so hard and with so much vigor that they are no longer aware of it; as if Matt has imagined the room he has locked himself in by Act II doorless and windowless, but slowly loses his ability to distinguish what he made up and what was there before. It’s the fantasy versus the reality, and how the fantasy can become so ravishing, so overtaking, that it consumes someone’s life completely, mythologizing the past and skewing the present.”

Moltz’s words are pertinent and serve as a warning to audience members of the production’s relevance as well as it’s possible triggering effects. Having attended a run-through I can confirm the need for such a statement. Without giving too much away, there are scenes of a sexual natures that may, simply put, trigger people. In one, towards the end of the second act, consensual sex between two characters becomes questionably forceful. Watching this Straw Dogs-esque twist, the audience is left questioning the scene unfolding before them.

It could be said that the conversation concerning the school’s sexual assault policy has dwindled after the initial outrage. The weekend marches have ceased as have the emails from Karen Lawrence and the past several layers of the free speech board have been dedicated to other campus happenings. Will the production spark interest again? Will the affect be positive or negative? The only way to gage the response of the student body is to wait until “The Red Light Winter” wraps and the talk-back begins.

Zoe Marquedant doesn't talk about Fight Club. She is an SLC writing student with a dinosaur watch and an over-developed sense of state pride. She can be found around campus perpetuating awkward moments and swearing like a sailor. Zoe firmly believes life is what happens in-between good cups of coffee.

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