Reasonable Fear: A Theatrical Exploration of Street Harassment and Rape Culture
Presented by: Touch Me Philly Productions
April 16 to 25, 2015, Various Times & Dates
Luna Theater, 620 South 8th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
From April 16 to 25, 2015, Alyson Rodriguez Orenstein and Amanda Sylvester of Touch Me Philly Productions present Reasonable Fear: A Theatrical Exploration of Street Harassment and Rape Culture. The Main Stage Theatrical Production of Reasonable Fear will be held Thursdays through Saturdays from April 16 to 18 and April 23 to 25 at 8:00pm and will feature nine performances by Alyson Rodriguez Orenstein, Jessica Farr, Cubby Altobelli, Josh Carpenter and others. Two other productions, “Cat Call Me Maybe: A Lighter Look at Street Harassment & Rape Culture” and “Save Us From Our Saviors: Sex Work, Human Trafficking & Rape Culture,” will also be presented throughout the production’s two-week run.
Reasonable Fear addresses, through theatrical productions, independent films, workshops and more, the issues of harassment and rape in a society where an estimated one in every six women is sexually assaulted within their lifetime and a rapist commits an average of ten rapes. Street harassment not only includes cat-calling, whistling and unwelcome comments to women, but also demands for a date or phone number, name-calling when harassing comments have been rebuffed as well as hateful comments and terms directed towards members of the LGBQT community in a public setting.
On Saturday, April 18, I had a chance to experience Reasonable Fear’s afternoon production, Cat Call Me Maybe, featuring stage performances and short films by Philadelphia comedians Rachel Fogletto, Vickie Fernandez and Hannah Harkness along with Rick Juliani and Craig Wolfgang. Cat Call Me Maybe presented a disturbing yet hilarious look into the issues many women face daily by unwanted advances in public. From short videos such as “Reversing The Cat Call,” in which women turn the tables on cat-callers with equally uncomfortable and seemingly naïve responses about abortions and their periods (and my personal favorite, one scene in which a woman gleefully pulls out a wedding dress in response to the romantic comments of a group of men driving by), to parodies of television shows such as “To Catch A Cat Caller” about a woman scoping comments online to catch men who are out cat-calling and “Cheaters: Cat Caller Edition” about a woman who is out to catch her cat-caller when his attention turns towards another woman he is harassing, the cast of Cat Call Me Maybe bravely presents a unique spin on an otherwise uncomfortable topic for both men and women.
The second half of the production startes off with a clip from “Trigger Warning,” a documentary film which explores the issue of rape jokes in society and popular media through open dialogue between high school students, college students and others. Too often, the word “rape” is thrown around in a humorous or descriptive context, such as “oh, he raped me at tennis,” without considering how such words may affect others, including those who have been sexually assaulted and may suffer from PTSD where such words and jokes can be “triggers,” forcing victims to rehash painful and traumatizing memories. Throughout Cat Call Me Maybe, a stage show featuring Fogletto as a woman who starts responding back to the men who cat call her, Fernandez as an interviewer for a reality intervention show and Harkness as Fogletto’s boss at her job, Conglomacorp, who offers her some sage advice after a meeting to address her lateness because of addressing cat-callers on her way to work: “customers are always right and cat callers are fucking idiots.” The production concludes with Fogletto, Fernandez and Harkness sharing their own personal experiences with street harassment, insight into the expectation that women need to have their guard up and follow societal rules on how to act and dress otherwise what happens to them is “their fault,” the downplaying of street harassment by men who don’t understand a woman’s perspective and a powerful question to those who allow their fear to dictate their actions due to the unwelcome interactions by strangers: “Do you want to be safe or do you want to be free?”
For more information about Reasonable Fear and Touch Me Philly Productions, please visit: http://www.touchmephilly.com. Also, for more information about what you can do to help stop street harassment, please visit: http://www.stopstreetharassment.org.