Paradoxical Outcomes in an Educational Drama about Gang Rape: Ethical Responsibilities of Practitioners and Educators

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Educational drama has been embraced as a promising way to address sensitive and highly-charged issues among youth. An Israeli drama, Backyard Games, about gang rape, based on an actual case in a kibbutz [a communal settlement] called Shomrat, is considered the definitive work on the subject in Israeli theatre. Written by Edna Mazya and directed by Oded Kotler, at the Haifa Municipal Theatre, the play was inspired by the real-life story of a famous rape at Kibbutz Shomrat.

The play has been performed more than 1,000 times throughout Israel,1 embraced by critics and audiences and has had successful runs in several other countries. Since the play debuted, Edna Mazya has become a sought-after and successful playwright and director in the Israeli repertory theatre. The play has also been performed in numerous high schools for student audiences as part of an educational effort to raise awareness regarding the issue of rape.

Backyard Games is a rhetorically and aesthetically powerful performance that engages and stimulates its young audiences. However, an analysis of the script and performance indicate that its ultimate effect upon the audience is counterproductive to its educational and consciousness-raising goals. Paradoxically, the play, which is meant to counter sexual stereotypes and gender-related violence, has been found to reproduce them. An analysis of the drama's aesthetic reveals that through the use of language and staging, it creates a highly-sensual and male-oriented stimuli that reinforce a prevailing male view of adolescent boys as sexual beings in need of an outlet, in whatever way possible, and, on the other hand, adolescent girls are viewed as provocative victims. Empirical data based on responses to the drama from 617 high school students support this analysis. The discussion raises questions regarding the ethical responsibilities of creators, producers and of the educational organisations that utilise the play for educational purposes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-158
Number of pages20
JournalResearch in Drama Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2005


  • Israeli literature
  • 1900-1999
  • Mazyah, Edna (1949-)
  • Miśḥaḳim ba-ḥatser ha-aḥorit (1993)
  • drama
  • rape
  • theatrical production
  • audience response
  • adolescent students


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