Jana: In college, I was an Actor. Here’s what I mean by that: In college, I minored in theater, I auditioned for all the plays, and I was occasionally cast as topless leads. And like all of my acting colleagues, my dream was to get a paid acting gig. Today, I share the story of my first ever (I mean also last, but you know) Paid Acting Gig. A thrill!
The summer of 2006 was spent in Burlington VT; my first time living in an apartment instead of moving home for the summer. And although I spent June locked in my room with a crushing depression that only abated when I finally found steady employment (The Gap stepped in and gave me a job, so. Support them if you can.), by July I was the happiest of 20-year-olds, working days, drinking nights, and generally doing stupid things in a large group of fellow actors.
When August rolled around, we all started to hear tell that there was a thing happening – this gig, this acting opportunity – that was paid. Our ears perked up. What was it, exactly?
Listen. It was the Date Rape Play.
Yes, you heard me. It was a thing called the Date Rape Play (literally, it didn’t even have a gentle subtitle), and it was performed each year for the incoming freshmen as part of orientation, so that they would be clear about knowing they might be raped at some point/what rape was. Here is the plot of the play:
Girl and guy are BEST FRIENDS. But, guy has a douchy brother, who is in a FRAT (bad). Frat boy brother invites girl and guy to party! They go, and they get pretty drunk (BAD). Afterwards, they go back to boy’s room, and make out. Guy is like, let’s have sex, girl is like, no, guy does it anyway (the lights fade as they’re making out, but it’s clear what has Happened).
NEXT MORNING, Girl is deeply confused and upset. She talks to her Lesbian Best Friend about it, who encourages her to tell the R.A. Girl does, and Boy is expelled from school.
That’s mostly it!
The woman who ran the date rape operation generally hired enough theatrically-inclined people to comprise like four casts, and each actor was paid $200. I called to inquire, and after a brief phone interview, I was cast in the play. And – big news – I was cast as the Rapee. (I told this story to someone once, and when I got to this part he was like, you mean the victim? And I was like, oh yeah, I guess that’s more appropriate to say.) So yeah, I was cast as the victim. Or, in my mind, THE STAR. It was fairly exciting, as these things go.
Rehearsals were hilarious. My cast included one of my friends as the lesbian, another friend as the frat boy brother, and a third friend as the person playing two parts (the lesbian’s girlfriend and the health center representative, who I believe was named Willow). Who, you ask, was playing the rapist? Well, let me tell you. Picture this:
He was in his 30s, and when I asked what he did he told me that he “DJ’s downtown sometimes.” He was short with a curly ‘fro sort of haircut and glasses, and he wore a necklace. Also, he was in his 30s and had agreed to be in this play with a bunch of 20-year olds. ALSO HE HAD TO PRETEND RAPE ME.
Regardless, my friends and I laughed our way through the month of rehearsals (my onstage rapist totally tried to be part of the group but we weren’t that welcoming), memorizing just insanely bad dialogue that included lines like ”You got the look girl, work it!” . And then, finally, the day came. The freshman had arrived, and they were piled into the theater, waiting nervously to make fun of whatever was about to be presented to them. We knew we wouldn’t let them down.
And we didn’t, and here’s why: my onstage rapist actually, and I am not kidding, PLAYED THE RAPE SCENE FOR LAUGHS. The dialogue is something like “come on, I love you!” and he was sort of like, bouncing up and down and just saying it like it was a joke. The audience loved it. Meanwhile, I was acting out my own rape so, you know. I didn’t love it as much.
That’s mostly all! Somehow we got through it, and afterwards we had a party that everyone just referred to as the date rape party (not even on purpose, it wasn’t like a THEME, it was just a statement of fact. It was the party after the date rape play).
We collected our $200 and started junior year refreshed.
Catherine: I think we’re about to get judged, and hard, because I too was in the date rape play, different cast. Same deal. Everyone in the cast was friends, the rehearsals were a total joke, and we learned that rape could (and should) be funny if it was meant to entertain. I played WINNIE – not Willow – BUT WINNIE. The character was based off the person at our school who actually had that job, and hadn’t had the foresight to get a name change before beginning her life of ridicule stemming from her truly ridiculous name. Someway, SOMEHOW, this first paid acting gig did not deter me from pursuing acting (SHUT UP). Perhaps it is responsible for the fact that I only do comedy, though.
To the best of my knowledge, they still do this show every year. To the knowledge of my knowledge, I still say “You got the look girl, WORK IT!” every year, at least once.