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The Past Is the Present Is the Past

Program Note


The Girl Is Chained

by Genne Murphy

directed by Shadi Ghaheri

Yale School of Drama

“What he did to me doesn’t expire, doesn’t just go away after a set number of years. It stays with me, it’s part of my identity, it has forever changed the way I carry myself, the way I live the rest of my life.”

—Emily Doe’s victim impact letter, read at the June 2, 2016 sentencing hearing of Brock Turner where he received six months for three counts of felony sexual assault

“I don’t think I have been able to take a deep breath since this happened. My first thought upon wakening every morning is ‘this isn’t real, this can’t be real. Why him? Why HIM? WHY? WHY?’ I have cried every single day since Jan. 18. This is on my mind every moment.”

—Carleen Turner’s letter to the judge, begging clemency for her son

The Girl Is Chained tells the stories of two women on opposite sides. On opposite sides of assault: a survivor and the mother of the accused. On opposite sides of twenty years: in 1998 and the present. Suburban and urban; white and black; straight and queer; opposite genres, even: absurdist comedy and realism—in the ever-absurd reality of rape culture.

Yet their parallel worlds begin to converge. One intrudes upon the other, peeks between the lines, and overlaps. No matter how they strive to scrape away, erase, or paint over the past, its remains reappear in the present—like a palimpsest. Traces of trauma linger and underwrite survival.

Ultimately, the two women find themselves on the same side of the present: the past.

- Molly FitzMaurice