Millennial Theatre Company premieres ‘Blame Game’

YOUNGSTOWN — The Millennial Theatre Company will premiere a new play that couldn’t be more timely.

The theater was evaluating new play submissions the same week the sexual allegations against film producer / studio chief Harvey Weinstein brought the topics of harassment and assault to the forefront.

“It really felt like something that was timely and needed to be addressed,” said Joe Asente, artistic director of MTC.

Brooks Shatraw’s “The Blame Game” does just that. The play tells the story of a high school student who commits suicide after being sexually assaulted at a party.

“Our mission is to produce works relevant to our generation, and there’s no more relevant topic than this,” Asente said.

After staging an original work, “Nothing or All,” last season, MTC reached out through social media and other methods to solicit new works by writers between the ages of 15 and 35. It received works from local writers as well as those from several states, including Shatraw, who lives in Rhode Island.

The play opens at the memorial service of the student who committed suicide following her sexual assault.

“It then flashes back to various things that happened, how it unfolded and how the student got into that situation in the first place,” Asente said.

The cast features Elizabeth Amstutz, D’Ella Heschmeyer, Elainie Huncik, Drew Peterson, Trevor Patchen, Hannah Boyle, D.J. Davis and Dominick Spisak.

In addition to featuring the work of a new playwright, it also marks the directing debut of Mariah Cresanto.

“It has so many messages that are relevant to society today,” Cresanto said. “They need to be talked about and brought to life. It’s great that we’re using our platform of the arts to open up that material.”

“The Blame Game” will be staged for three performances at the Calvin Center, home of the Rust Belt Theater Company, and each performance will be followed by a talk-back session with the cast and Dr. Jamie Marich, a licensed trauma specialist.

“We want to leave the audience more informed about how these issues arose and how we can prevent them in the future so we’re not back here 10 years from now talking about the same things,” Asente said.