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A young girl learns that her trust is misplaced when she is sexually assaulted by a friend.  Many young women learn that in order to get out of a situation like assault safely, they have to give in. This can create uncertainty in terms of who is at fault, and more often than not, the blame falls on the victim. This story doesn’t answer that question, but instead focuses on how this young girl navigates the inner turmoil of self blame as the violation lingers and life goes on.  

This story and my design explore three core ideas: trust, blame, and body. Dancers have a unique understanding of their bodies and the way it moves through the world. The body is a temple to be kept healthy and treated with the utmost care. So for Lily's body and boundaries to be desecrated is shattering. The design emphasizes the physicality of the body, the perception of our own bodies and the ways in which the body takes up space. This could be achieved through expansion and contraction of space. For instance, the back seat of Sander’s car could be a tight and confined, textured in uncomfortable, squeaky leather emphasizing the physical nature and enormity of the assault. In contrast when Lily breaks down in front of her friend after the assault, the bathroom could be spacious, almost vast in comparison, symbolizing how small and alone the assault has made Lily feel.

Another bodily element to highlight would be the body language of the characters. One of the most terrifying elements in the story is that Sander is someone that Lily has trust in, but there are clear moments in the script where we  see this other side to him. I think focusing on that switch could be fascinating as it signifies both a break in Sander’s persona and the impending break of trust between Lily & Sanders. I was drawn to glowing red and green lighting as a way of characterizing this switch in persona. By using subtle amounts of these saturated lights, potentially a neon cafe/diner sign or by changing the display colors on Sander’s car dashboard to a glowing green and red, these colors could break into a moment and hint at the malice and desperation beneath Sander’s pleasant mask.

In contrast, I think the ballet studio would be a bright, fairly pristine world. Setting the dancers in a simple studio, would focus the viewer on the dancers’ bodies. There could be an emphasis on lean, graceful lines of the dancer's bodies, captured in poses and fluid movements, towards the story's beginning. After the assault, the emphasis could swing to to the brutal physicality of dance, a beautiful juxtaposition of raggedy, bleeding feet, the contortion of the muscles, as well as skin and sweat.

NYU Design Project

Screenplay by Manya Branham Glassman

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