Pride Center debates “Bat Boy” play

Pride Center debates Bat Boy play

Written By Paul Sell

Staff Reporter

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Though many people who attended the EWU Theatre production of “Bat Boy: The Musical” were left with a good memorable experience, other students believe that the production was not handled properly and often came off as offensive.

This led to the Pride Center holding a debate on May 23 to discuss the controversial issues surrounding “Bat Boy: The Musical” and the actions that should be taken toward the play in the future.

The main issue that many of the attendees had with the play revolved around a scene in which one of the main female characters is raped after her coworker is exposed to pheromones that increase his sexual drive.

Angela Rak, the moderator of the debate, said this controversy began when the Scary Feminists on Eastern’s campus heard about this particular scene in the production and spoke out about the subject of rape.

According to Rak, the Scary Feminists believed that this scene was feeding into rape culture and making the female look helpless during the act. This eventually caused the group to openly protest the play and tell others to not see the play.

Rape culture implies that men constantly want sex and will do whatever they need to get it, which the Scary Feminists believe is reinforced throughout the play by the actions of the male character.

Over the course of the debate, it was discussed whether or not this scene acted as the Scary Feminists believe it did.

Fira Ballew, who attended the debate and the play, pointed out how the scene is used in the context of the story, where the male was under the influence of pheromones that he accidently spilled, meaning neither party is at fault.

Ryan Heath, a debate attendee, believes moments like that in “Bat Boy: The Musical” were meant to invoke shock and awe in the audience, rather than being offensive.

“They’re not trying to condone [rape],” said Heath. “They’re just doing it for the shock value.”

However, many of the attendees agreed that the scene was upsetting and could possibly set off terrible memories for those who have been raped or know someone who had gone through it.

Ballew believes that since expressive detail of the action was not shown, the theater department should not remove that particular scene from the play but that they should warn the audience of it instead.

“While I may have problems with the plot, I cannot censor it,” said Ballew. “But they should warn the audience.”

Many of the other attendees agreed that it is going too far to say that no one should see this play, but that a warning either before the play or in the brochures handed out at the entrance would be the best solution to the imagery that might upset some.

The other issue discussed during the debate was that one of the female roles in the play was played by a male, which the Scary Feminists believe is a fear of transgender.

Yet, many of the attendees saw no sign of transphobia in the play.

Ballew pointed out that males have been playing female roles since the age of Shakespeare when females were not allowed on stage, so this action is not new to theater. In the case of “Bat Boy: The Musical,” it was used for comedy and done effectively.

“It would be a problem if they said in the play that this character was [transgender],” said Ballew. “But they didn’t. It was just a woman who had a hairy lip.”

Though the Scary Feminists were not present, the debate attendees agreed that “Bat Boy: The Musical” was not promoting rape or making a comment about transgender, but there should be a warning about some disturbing scenes.