While living abroad in Israel last year Brian Lobel, an LSA freshman, attended the 700th production of Tel Aviv playwright Edna Mayza”s play “Games in the Backyard” a true story about the mass rape of a young woman and the lawsuit that ensued. This weekend Lobel will put on a translated production of “Games” in the Arena theater.
An hour-long production, the drama is quartered into four scenarios in which four actors and a sole actress each alternate between two different characters. In the first scenario the actors represent a group of teens who commit the crime of raping Dvori, a young, lonely girl who seeks their attention. In the second scenario the four men act as their own defense council while the woman stands as prosecuting attorney representing the young girl, bringing the four on one dynamic into a new sphere. The third scene shows the actors portraying the youth defenders and the actress examining their case. Then with the final Mazya culminates these events by putting Dvori on trial to be cross-examined by the four attorneys, who push her into corners of confession, which strangely parallel the rape.
“It”s not a melodrama,” Lobel said, refuting the idea that there are black and white heroes and villains in the play. “Though there”s no denying that rape is the worst crime that can happen to a woman, rape is not always clean cut.” “Games” shows this side of rape where motivations are hard to determine in both the victim and the abusers. A feeling that the characters wade through murky realities permeates throughout and turns the “Backyard” of the title, usually associated with gardens and innocent play, into a dark underworld of hidden need and aggression.
Leading up to the rape is a series of suggestive games, which Dvori and the youths enact as they coax and tease one another. While the boys toy with Dvori she toys back and laps up the attention until, at a peak of coquetry, she relates a story about taking her clothes off for an old man. The story”s suggestiveness, taken the wrong way, then leads to the ensuing crime.
“My goal was to make every character real. Every character has a history, a passion, a love no one is a stereotype” Lobel said.
Responsibility also plays a big part in the drama”s theme. By examining the idea that Dvori may share some of the responsibility for her own victimization, and by showing that the four youths who commit the crime are not complete monsters, Mayza presents an interesting twist on an hotly disputed topic. Especially interesting it you consider that Mazya is a feminist writer, known for creating strong female roles.
“You”d expect hard on rape,” Lobel said. “But the woman is not weak, and I think that”s where feminism comes into play, because there”s a little responsibility for her too.”