David Heron's AGAINST HIS WILL Sheds Light On Men Who Say 'Me Too'
David Heron's Against His Will, the provocative legal drama in which a young Jamaican man accuses his female boss of sexually assaulting him, will return to The New Vibe Lounge in Rockville Centre, Long Island following a sold out, standing room only performance at the venue last month.
The staged concert reading of the play will be performed again on Sunday March 24 at 7pm and will be preceded by a cocktail hour beginning at 6pm.
The play, originally written and produced by the Jamaican born Heron nearly twenty years ago, is again creating a stir in its current cycle of staged readings as the #ME TOO MOVEMENT continues to gain traction throughout the USA and worldwide.
According to Heron, the classic role reversal in his play- where it is the male accusing a female of assault- is a source of great controversy and divided opinion during the performances and in the audience talkback afterwards.
"What we have found with the readings is that once we open up the floor for questions and comments following the performance, we get a floodgate of highly diverse and very emotionally charged responses to the material," he says. " When the play had its world premiere nearly two decades ago , many people thought of it as a comedy. The very idea of a man claiming that an attractive woman forced him to have sex and then taking her to court afterwards seemed preposterous to many back then. But a lot has happened in the intervening years and while there are still some moments that generate quiet laughter now, it's much more subdued.... Audiences are listening more intently and taking the subject more seriously today."
Heron attributes the shift in response to the piece as both cultural and societal.
"The female protagonist in Against His Will ,Gillian Forbes, is an entrepreneur- a self employed, successful, independent woman who is quite open about her ambitions and desires, both sexually and otherwise. She may want a man in her life but she doesn't really NEED one in what we think of as the traditional sense. So, like many men before her, she wields her power as she sees fit. And as women worldwide have ascended the economic and professional ladder and become more self sufficient over the years, I think that the character has become more plausible. I think people look at her now and think 'You know , I know someone just like that or someone who could very well be like that.' It's not such a stretch anymore."
He also thinks that the # ME TOO MOVEMENT has allowed sexual assault victims of both genders to feel more open about coming forward, although men remain in the minority.
"In this play you have an attractive heterosexual male who tells his boss- a very alluring woman- that he's happily married and would like to be left alone. And on a particular occasion , they find themselves alone and something happens that makes him feel violated enough to risk societal ridicule and take her to court. I think the play makes a profound statement about what sexual assault victims who come forward - and who have historically been mostly women- have to go through when they are not believed. This story says that it's no different for men either. It may be worse. And the 'blame the victim' syndrome is universal."
The production, directed by Heron himself, features a cast lead by 2018 Top Indie Film Best Actor winner James Duke Walker (Roadside Assistance), along with AUDELCO Award nominees Hector Lincoln and Candice McKoy. The cast is completed by Gabrielle C. Archer, Stacy Ann Brissett, Kevin Elden, Fleurette Harris, Jennifer J. Joseph and Carlene Taylor.
The audience talk back with Heron and the cast after the reading will be followed by a Caribbean Cuisine buffet reception courtesy of Golden Krust Caribbean Restaurant.
Limited tickets to the production are $35.00 including the reception buffet and are available at : https://againsthiswillencore.eventbrite.com. The New Vibe lounge is located at 60 N Park Avenue, Rockville Center, NY 11570. Further information is available by calling 424-256-6574.