‘Asking for it’: DCU Drama return to the stage

Rachael Dunphy

“My body is not my own any more. They have stamped their names all over it.”

DCU Drama makes its long awaited return to in-person theatre next week with semester one’s contemporary play, ‘Asking for it’. The play, adapted for stage by Meadhbh McHugh with Annabelle Comyn, is based on the 2015 novel by Louise O’Neill. This will be DCU Drama’s first in-person production after a successful year of virtual theatre due to the Covid pandemic.

‘Asking for it’ centres around 18 year old Emma, played by Amy McLoughlin. Emma is sexually assaulted at a party full of school friends, and what ensues casts a glaring eye over how society treats those who have been in Emma’s situation. Victim blaming swamps Emma’s rural Cork town and the pull of social media means she can’t escape it.

“This isn’t my story,” says first year student Amy McLouglin who plays Emma. “Everyone knows who Emma O’Donovan is, and in a split second she goes from the most powerful girl in the town to completely vulnerable.” Amy says she hopes the audience will be able to identify the actions of the play in their own lives, and feel they can pull up friends on their inappropriate actions.

The play features a band of GAA ‘lads’, synonymous with the locker room banter that is seen in act one. Three of Emma’s attackers form the basis of the group, Paul, Dylan and Sean. “It does seem to be a theme in team sports, when some conversations happen it produces this toxic masculinity,” says Dom Byrne who plays Sean. “The guys in the cast have been brilliant. They’ve been so understanding and mature. It’s important, especially for Amy that she feels comfortable around the lads”

“We’re thrilled to be back,” says Órla Morris Toolen, director of “Asking for it”, “We’ve a big job to do with this play so we really want to get it right.” Órla believes the theme of the play should resonate with college students, and that consent still isn’t the everyday topic it should be. “If one person walks away and says ‘I need to speak up about what happened to me that night’ then we’ve done something right.”

‘Asking for it’ takes place November 16 and 17 in St. Pat’s Auditorium. Tickets, on-sale from November 11, will be €5. This play is also in aid of DCU Drama’s charity partner – the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.