UC San Diego
- Author(s): Del Rosso, Stephanie
- Advisor(s): Iizuka, Naomi
- et al.
Tess just landed her dream job at sleek tech start-up The Gradient: a center where men accused of sexual misconduct are sent to be rehabilitated. The clients go in with a lifetime of toxic male conditioning and emerge as new men: sensitized, redeemed. It sounds too good to be true, and maybe it is. When Tess meets a client who says all the right things, she's forced to question her most basic assumptions about what is real. What seemed like radical innovation quickly reveals an ugly underbelly, and Tess starts to doubt this tidy, commodified road to redemption. The Gradient interrogates the notion of “grey areas.” It questions the impulse to label certain sexual misconduct allegations as “not actually that bad,” comparatively speaking. The play posits: why can’t we dream bigger, expect more, expect better? Standards will never shift if we keep making concessions, and acknowledging a spectrum of harmful actions doesn’t mean creating false equivalences. But the play also investigates the flaws, bureaucracy, and potentially, the futility of trying to instigate behavioral and societal upheaval. The Gradient asks what it means to say I'm sorry and whether it's possible for people to truly change.