Play to shed light on abuse

The Santa Monica College theater department is looking to teach a lesson about spousal abuse in their next play of the semester, "The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife." Adrianne Harrop, director of the play, says the play is about an abused housewife who comes to find herself and realize her self-worth.

During casting of the five characters in the play, Harrop says she was looking for various characteristics in order to make sure the actors were right for their respective parts.

"I was looking for them being accessible from the audience, that the audience liked them, that the audience cared for them, that the audience wanted them to win, and that the audience wanted them to do well," says Harrop.

Harrop says she cares a lot about spousal abuse, emphasizing that she feels abuse still carries on today, both verbally and physically.

"I want to awaken the audience to this issue which I think is so important," she says. "I think it's relevant to the college."

Even though the play has a serious subject, Harrop uses humor to entertain the audience.

"Before the climax, there are some really enjoyable, funny sequences," Harrop says. "There are a lot of laughs in this show."

Harrop describes her cast as "exceptional, wonderful and fantastic."

SMC student BreAnna Wittman, who plays Rayleen Hobbs in the play, had to use profanity for her audition, which is something she does not like to do.

"After the audition, I called my mom crying," Wittman says.

Wittman says she got into character by meeting a woman whose life mirrored the life of her character and studying her mannerisms.

SMC student Jason Millward plays the leading and only male role, J.D. Winkler, the abusive husband. He describes his character as a man who causes the housewife severe anguish, trapping her in an "emotional prison."

To prepare for the role, Millward says he did some extensive research over the Internet to get a better understanding of the kind of mindset abusive husbands have towards their wives.

"I think [the show] is going to stir emotions and stir feelings toward domestic violence issues, with bigotry, with prejudice, and hatred in general, and poverty," Millward says.

Millward says he feels this play is good for a Los Angeles audience because it can transport people to a different place that they may not be used to.

This will be Millward's ninth show at SMC. He has been acting since he was in the fourth grade in Tennessee.

Harrop says the playwright Del Shores, a Venice local, personally contacted her about attending the show.

"I'm trying to be extremely true to him, but I still want my signature," Harrop says of Shores. "I want my stamp on the production."

"The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife" opens on April 19 at 8 p.m. on the Studio Stage of the Theatre Arts Complex on the main campus, and will play through April 28. To purchase tickets, visit the box office.