Auro’s ‘Actually’ Explores Sexual Misconduct

Making its Bay Area premiere on Aurora Theatre Company’s second stage, Anna Ziegler’s drama Actually promises to be a much more nuanced and thorny examination of the gray areas of sexual misconduct.


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Actually takes up sexual misconduct.

Art by Elizabeth Lada

The #metoo movement of outing sexual harassers and predators picking up steam has coincided with a number of new plays about workplace harassment popping up around the Bay Area, such as 3Girls’ Disruption in San Francisco and Bay Area Drama Company’s Greater Than in Sunnyvale. Mercifully, one thing it hasn’t spurred is any discernible uptick in productions of David Mamet’s Oleanna, which purports to be a “he said, she said” play about sexual harassment in which the audience can decide who’s right, but which actually stacks the deck entirely in the man’s favor.

Now making its Bay Area premiere on Aurora Theatre Company’s second stage, Anna Ziegler’s drama Actually promises to be a much more nuanced and thorny examination of the gray areas of sexual misconduct.

After a drunken hookup, two Princeton freshmen classmates—not incidentally a white woman and a black man—find themselves on opposite ends of a rape hearing. Michael Curry and Ella Dershowitz (daughter of lawyer Alan) star, directed by Tracy Ward. The two are the only characters in the play, and we see their early flirtations as well as their intoxicated play leading up to the incident before they really start to pick apart what happened and how consensual it was or wasn’t.

Coinciding with the Trump administration’s efforts to make sexual assault charges much harder to make at universities, revising policies to favor the accused at the expense of assault victims, it also gets into the messy territory of how campus sexual assault cases are decided. It’s difficult dramatic territory regardless of its timeliness, but everything that’s happening right now just makes it more loaded.

Actually plays March 8-May 5, Tue., Wed., Sun. 7 p.m.; Thu., Fri., Sat. 8 p.m.; Sun. 2 p.m.; $35-$70, Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison St., Berkeley; 510-843-4822, AuroraTheatre.org.

This article was originally published in our sister publication, the East Bay Monthly.

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