Female comedian Ever Mainard caught some flak years ago for a joke about walking alone at night and feeling uncomfortable around a man who was acting strange. The joke became controversial because the man in question was black and Mainard is white. However, she touched on some thing that almost every woman who’s ever been told to carry her keys like a knife, or run in a serpentine pattern if being chased, has experienced.
Mainard’s joke, “Every woman has the moment where they’re like, "Oh, here’s my rape!’” was uncomfortable, but it was truthful. It touched on an inherent fear for many women and one Stefany Cambra of local theater company Proper Hijinx can relate to.
Cambra says men are often unaware of or have a hard time understanding the way their actions — like asking a woman on a date repeatedly when she's already said no — can make a woman feel. It’s what led her to Boy Gets Girl, a play she's co-producing with two other local theater companies, Resolute Theatre Project and L.I.P. Service.
Boy Gets Girl, written by Rebecca Gilman, first premiered at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in 2000. The main character, Theresa, goes on a blind date with a young man who seems nice at first, but she's not into him. A polite rejection turns terrifying for the character as he stalks her and ultimately causes her to completely uproot her life.
Cambra thought of the play a year ago when she was looking for an opportunity to collaborate with other local theaters.
“It’s been on my bucket list since first reading it in college, but based on cast size and production requirements, I knew I couldn’t realistically afford to do it justice on my own," she says.
Cambra had just directed Amy Cave, artistic director of the new Resolute Theatre Project, in a play at the Festival of Independent Theatres, so Resolute Theatre was a natural first choice for a partner. And Cave br
ought in Jason Leyva of L.I.P. Service, whom she'd worked with before.
The three companies have come together to put on Boy Gets Girl, which opens Friday and will continue through Aug. 27 at Amy's Studio of Performing Arts in North Dallas. Cambra was motivated by a recent experience with a male acquaintance who she says would drive by her house and ask her why she wasn’t home, then lash out when she asked him to stop texting and calling her.
Cambra grew up in a military family, so she learned to make friends quickly, and she has always believed that everyone is good deep down and that she should be courteous. Now she sees how these beliefs can be dangerous to young women.
“There’s this hesitation you have when rejecting someone, like you have to be nice or sweet,” she says.
The rehearsal process has been intense for Cambra, and she’s grateful for the team of men and women she’s working with. They've helped her to feel grounded and safe even when the scenes feel disturbingly real.
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“This show can make me jumpy. Sometimes I don’t want to be touched after rehearsal," she says. "It just makes you so aware. It also makes you aware of finding men that you do feel safe around. Because, you know, #notallmen.”
Justin Duncan, who plays the scorned date, Tony, is “just the nicest guy," says Cambra. Leyva, who is directing, also creates what Cambra describes as a very open and supportive environment.
The three companies hope to bring light to the subject of rape and rape culture, and provoke a discussion about why so many women feel the need to protect the feelings of others, even at the expense of their safety. For Cambra and her co-producers, it’s the kind of play local theaters should be coming together to produce.
Boy Gets Girl, Aug. 11-27, Amy's Studio of Performing Arts, 11888 Marsh Lane, Suite 600, $16, eventbrite.com.