by Ken Eisinger

In the middle of his play, director Jared Kirby leaps to the stage and sounds off.
Kirby co-authored “Transformations: A Work in Progress,” a play examining the societal values perpetuating rape culture. It focuses on the definition of consent and the role of equality in changing the belief that men have a license to dominate women.
“I will fight until my last breath to make men realize this is a problem we created, and it is our responsibility to fix it,” Kirby said after jumping from the crowd.
An audience of 30 attended Friday’s opening performance in Coffman Theater. The play alternated between scenes and monologues. In between acts, cast members shouted dirty jokes and catcalls and played recordings of 1980s heavy metal songs simulating patriarchal society.
Lance Mudgett, an accountant for Universal Tension and an associate of Kirby, traveled three hours from Brainerd, Minn., for opening night. Mudgett said examining these attitudes from the male perspective was appropriate.
“It was good to take a peek at what male (rapists) are going through once they realize what they committed,” Mudgett said.
Much of the play centers around confusion about the definitions of rape and consent. According to a 1996 poll by the American College Health Association, 7.5 percent of college men surveyed said they had committed acts that could have been considered rape, but they did not realize it at the time.
University freshman Adrianne Kriewall plays a rape victim. She said the play focuses on men without attacking them.
“People think a yes’ is consent, but it is important to know consent is an equal opportunity to say no’ without outside influences like alcohol,” Kriewall said.
Kirby’s co-writers included a sexual assault counselor, a student from Century College in White Bear Lake, Minn., and a student from Minneapolis Community College. Other plays’ ineffectiveness in addressing rape compelled the authors to write “Transformations.”
Some encourage audience participation with a question and answer format, said co-author Susanne Becker.
“Other plays are targeted toward females, but they are not the perpetrators,” Becker said. “This one targets males as well.”
Sean Larson, a sophomore theater major, plays the rapist. In preparation, he said he physically tenses up and pumps his fist in the air. He said playing the role has been informative.
“It’s caused me to look at things I’ve done in the past and things I’ll do in the future,” he said. “I hope the audience will take away something they can apply to their lives.”
The play runs Thursday through Saturday.