The Rochester Plays
By Spencer Christiano
Over the course of the season, our assistant directors and student dramaturgs will be compiling dramaturgical resources relating to each production as it develops. Below are some links to websites which relate to the history of the play, the biography of the playwright, and sites that contextualize and, we hope, shed light on the directorial approach to the dramatic material.
We hope you find these resources of interest.
Spencer Christiano (b. 1986)
The Rochester Plays is a series of full-length plays written in two parts—Part I: Attraction and Part II: Escape—by Spencer Christiano, resident playwright at the MuCCC Theatre in Rochester. Rehearsing during the late fall ’12 semester and early spring ’13 semester, The Rochester Plays will receive their world premiere in Todd Theatre in February 2013.
The Rochester Plays are set in a fictionalized version of Rochester, NY suffering from a typical winter and deal primarily with the effects on a community of a registered pedophile and sex offender moving in to an urban neighborhood. Considered by many to be a mental condition, there is an important distinction to be made between pedophiles and child molesters. Child molesters are those who have acted on their desires, whereas pedophiles are those who have a sexual attraction to younger children. In fact, with medication to reduce the sex drive, some doctors believe that pedophilia can be treated.
The New York Department of Criminal Justice defines a three-fold risk level system for registered sex offenders, wherein each level carries a different “risk” of repeat offense—with one being the smallest and three being the largest. The NYDCJ also offers a detailed search function for the entirety of New York, much like the popular National website, Family Watchdog. Also, take a look at this list of all register-able sexual offenses in New York and this chart that correlates felony class with minimum and maximum sentences.
The Rochester Plays explore three main attitudes towards assimilating pedophiles into society, each demonstrated by one of the following articles: universal registration, societal rehabilitation, and zero tolerance.
Check out The Woodsman (also here) and The Snowtown Murders (and here), two films that approach sexual offenders and storytelling with a tone similar to The Rochester Plays. Other literary and dramatic texts that touch on the subject include Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, John Patrick Shanley's Doubt: A Parable, and Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive.
This article provides some relevant insight into both the recent Sandusky scandal at Pennsylvania State University and the mind of a pedophile in general.
Listen to act three of This American Life—Episode 407. This American Life is a radio show that features documentary material, essays, biographies, and short fiction pieces. Act three of this episode explores the living conditions of a group of Miami sexual offenders who have been forced into homelessness due to extreme zoning laws.
The Rochester Plays features a large amount of realistic stage combat.
The author of The Rochester Plays describes them as "a low income love story about the birth and decay of trust, questionable parenting techniques, and unforgivable neighbors." One of the parenting issues evoked by the text relates to latchkey kids (more about them here and here).
*Spencer Christiano photo courtesy of/credit: Annette Dragon