the boys in the basement by karen houppert and stephen nunns

Joanna P. Adler and Toby Wherry in The Boys in the Basement
Joanna P. Adler and Toby Wherry in The Boys in the Basement

The Boys in the Basement, written by Karen Houppert and Stephen Nunns, was developed in the Mabou Mines/Suite and received a New York State Council on the Arts grant for development. It is a drama based on the 1990 trial of a developmentally disabled girl who was raped by a gang of neighborhood boys in Glen Ridge, New Jersey on March 1, 1989. Luring her into a basement with the promise of a date with a popular athlete at the school, the boys penetrated her with baseball bats, broomsticks, and bottles—then bragged about, facilitating their arrests. This play used court transcripts from the months-long trial Houppert covered, found material from an AOL internet chat room “rape,” and a turn-of-the-century advice book on how to speak to your daughter about sex. Interweaving the various elements, along with music and movement, the show took on themes of sex, sexuality, friendship and betrayal.

The play had a 4-week run at HERE in the spring of 1995. It was directed by Stephen Nunns, with music by Nunns and Alex MacSween. Featured were Toby Wherry, JoAnna P. Adler (who won an OBIE that year for her performance in this play), Christina Campanella, David Kennedy, Gary Brownlee, and Joan Lunoe.

Video excerpt from the play: 

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