“Boy Gets Girl” examines extreme stalking

     On April 27, OPRF’s Studio 200 showcased their last play of the year, and it served as a strong final piece for senior students. Senior Terria O’Neal directed the show and chose to exhibit a painfully realistic story of sexual violence, aptly titled “Boy Gets Girl”. 

     “I was just looking for anything involving social issues,” said O’Neal. The chosen social issue was the effect of male harassment of women, and how these stories do not usually have a happy ending. 

     The show starred Teresa, played by junior Olivia Pruden, a strong and educated woman working as a journalist going on a date set up by her friend. Tony, her date, played by freshman Laila Cespedes, seemed perfectly nice; a bit odd, but harmless. As the plot continued, the audience watched Teresa grow more irritated with Tony who didn’t understand why she rejected him.

      In a phone call with Tony, Teresa clearly explained that she had no interest in him and wanted him to cease all contact. Teresa, reasonably, then thought his pursuit was over. It was not. Teresa began receiving graphic letters and voicemails with threats and disturbingly detailed explanations of what he wanted to do to her. 

     “It was really interesting to figure out the intent behind the actions and how normalized it is for men to chase women even when the women say no,” Cespedes said. Boys are not taught to respect women, “‘Oh boys will be boys, it’s like, they haven’t been told not to,” they said. 

      “Boy Gets Girl” was generally a depressing show with a few jokes sprinkled in. The ending was rather abrupt, which was a perfect encapsulation of the real story for so many women. “When I first read it, I was like, this is it? Is there more?” said O’Neal. 

     Teresa eventually felt so unsafe that she was forced to leave New York and move to Colorado with a new name and identity. The very last line of the play was Teresa expressing she wanted to be Teresa, and not change her name to Claire. 

     The lights dimmed, presumably leaving the audience with the exact same thoughts as O’Neal.  “Is that all?” – and it was, because stories like these don’t often get happy endings.

     “It sticks with you when it’s unhappy, right? When it’s a happy ending, it’s just like any other show,” explained Cespedes. One can imagine audience members, especially women, walking home with a sick feeling, looking around anxiously on the way home, hoping not to encounter a “Tony.”

     Pruden had the near impossible goal of playing the many layers of Teresa, but her portrayal was flawless. “I was nervous. It was a hard role to play, but I felt like I could do a good job at it,” said Pruden.

     Senior Brooke Schonman was the assistant stage manager. “There’s a huge emotional and ethical disconnect when you’re reading about something versus when you see it actually acted out,” said Schonman. 

     Seeing the story acted out, no more than a few feet away, gives the viewer a significantly different perspective on what’s happening than they would get while reading the news about a stranger. As such, Boy Gets Girl” provided a chilling story of the reality of sexism present in the lives of so many.