Current VPA News

The Department of Drama in the College of Visual and Performing Arts concludes its 2018-2019 season with Naomi Iizuka’s “Good Kids.” This production is directed by faculty member Holly Thuma and features New York City-based actor Carey Cox, who portrays the character Dierdre. “Good Kids” runs May 3 through May 11 in the Storch Theatre at the Syracuse Stage/SU Drama Complex, 820 East Genesee St., Syracuse.

Inspired by the 2012 Steubenville, Ohio, rape case, “Good Kids” takes a dive into a haunting and disturbing incident that occurs during a high school party, including a difficult aftermath. The play focuses on a group of college bound football players, soccer stars, popular girls and an “outsider” as they attempt to piece together the events of a night they can barely remember. The play confronts the layers of complexity introduced by social media as private stories become public and inaccurate recollections obfuscate the truth.

Department of Drama chair, Ralph Zito, hopes that “each of us might take a look into seemingly small decisions that we make and understand how they can contribute to a larger evil.”

Director Thuma explained that the play “paints a picture of how we as a culture view issues of rape and sexual assault.” These topics and the circumstances in which they occur are not new and “the difficulty in prosecuting crimes of this nature, the tendency to cover them up, and the cultural inclination to blame the victim are not new either.”

Thuma and Zito acknowledge the challenging nature of the material and encourage the audience to be empathetic and to see that there are steps everyone can take to address problems in our society. It is important to “join in the cultural discussion, conversation by conversation,” Zito explained.

The Steubenville High School rape occurred on the night of Aug. 11, 2012, when a high school girl, incapacitated by alcohol, was publicly and repeatedly sexually assaulted by her peers, several of whom documented the acts on social media.

The crime and ensuing legal proceedings generated considerable controversy and galvanized a national conversation about rape and rape culture.

Appearing as a guest artist, Carey Cox portrays the character Deirdre. Deirdre serves as a kind of narrator to action in “Good Kids.” Cox made her Broadway debut as Laura’s understudy in Sam Gold’s production of “The Glass Menagerie,” which starred Sally Field. Cox has also been a company member at PlayMakers Repertory Company where her credits include “Three Sisters,” “We Are Proud to Present a Presentation…,” “Seminar,” “Trouble in Mind,” “Mary’s Wedding” and “Into the Woods.” She participated in Queens Theatre’s inaugural Theatre for All training program for actors with disabilities and was an actor and playwright for the Theatre for All short play readings. She serves on the board of directors for Born Dancing, an inclusive dance company.

Playwright Iizuka’s “Good Kids” started off the Big Ten Theatre Consortium’s New Play Initative in 2014, which commissioned work from women writers that featured strong female roles. “Good Kids” rose to prominence upon its release in 2015 and has been especially popular on college campuses. Iiuzuka’s other plays include “36 Views,” “Polaroid Stories,” “Language of Angels” and “Skin.” Iizuka is currently being commissioned by the Guthrie Theatre, the Mark Taper Forum and the Kennedy Center to produce new work.

Good Kids

By Naomi Iizuka

Directed by Holly Thuma

Choreographer: Michelle Dunleavy

Scenic Design: Roslyn Palmer

Costume Design: Breanna Zahakos

Lighting Design: Emily Stork

Sound Design: Kevin O’Connor

Stage Combat: Felix Ivanov

Viewpoints Consultant: Rob Bundy

Dramaturg: Quinn Hemphill

Stage Manager: Lia Chapman



Maddie Allen Amber

Carey Cox* Deirdre

Claire David Madison

Anthony James Hernandez Landon

Catie Kobland Kylie

Valeria I. Berdecía Martínez Chloe

Zachary Pearson Connor

Emily Rudolph Brianna

Logan Shiller Tanner

Justin Slepicoff Ty

Gaelyn Smith Skyler

Claire St. Marie Daphne


*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.


Additional Credits

Dance Captain: Maddie Allen

Fight Captain: Logan Shiller

Assistant Directors: Daisha Abdillahi, Brittany Adebumola

Assistant to the Director: Kayla Addison

Assistant Choreographer: Regan Rees

Assistant Scenic Designers: Sabrina Knaack

Assistant Costume Designer: Ningning ‘Renee’ Yang

Assistant Lighting Designer: Lily Meaker

Assistant Stage Manager: Alana Barker

Casting Associate: Wallis Dean

Casting Assistant: Cara Christian


Performance Dates

May 3 at 8 p.m. (preview)

May 4 at 8 p.m. (opening)

May 5 at 2 p.m. (ASL interpreted)

May 8 at 8 p.m.

May 9 at 8 p.m.

May 10 at 8 p.m.

May 11 at 2 p.m. (open captioning)

May 11 at 8 p.m.


Special Event: Sunday Salon Series

Breaking the Silence: Changing Cultural Attitudes toward Sexual Assault

A Panel Discussion and Q&A

Sunday, May 5

3:30 p.m.


Daisha Abdillahi, assistant director, “Good Kids”

Loren Cunningham, director of community engagement and prevention strategy, Vera House

Susan Pasco, associate directors, Syracuse University Counseling Center

Ralph Zito, professor and chair, Department of Drama, College of Visual and Performing Arts


This discussion is free and open to the public. No tickets required.

Performances of “Good Kids” with open captioning or American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation are noted. For an accommodations request for the Sunday Salon, contact Ralph Zito at