Right To Be Forgotten

Secrets, lies and political backstabbing abound in the riveting new drama Right To Be Forgotten, about one man’s fierce battle to reclaim his privacy.

Your Chicago Guide’s tickets for two to the press viewing of Right To Be Forgotten courtesy of Raven Theatre.

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Production photo by Michael Brosilow

Due to popular demand, Raven Theatre’s critically-acclaimed Chicago premiere of Right To Be Forgotten has added an additional week of performances, extending through Sunday, April 2, 2023. Written by Sharyn Rothstein and directed by Sarah Gitenstein, this smart and timely story about human forgiveness in the age of the internet is playing on the theatre’s newly-dedicated Johnson Stage.

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Production photo by Michael Brosilow

The internet never forgets, and Derril Lark’s mistake at 17 haunts him online a decade later. Desperate for a normal life, he goes to extraordinary lengths to erase his indiscretion. But freedom of information is a big business, and the tech companies aren’t going down without a fight. Secrets, lies and political backstabbing abound in this riveting new drama about one man’s fierce battle to reclaim his privacy by Primus Prize winning playwright Sharyn Rothstein.

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Production photo by Michael Brosilow

Comments Director Sarah Gitenstein: “As the internet continues to record our personal narrative, from social media to the cloud, we must grapple with the concept that our memory, however subjective, has become permanent. Who we were and mistakes we may have made are cataloged, searchable and available for reinvestigation. But what if that could change? The European Union has recently legislated The Right to be Forgotten, an act that allows individuals to request the removal of personal information from search engines. But in the American constitutional system, where freedom of speech is protected, such an act is nearly impossible to adopt. So, what happens to people who want to escape the new digital permanence of memory? I’m excited to dig into these questions and ideas as we start work on Sharyn Rothstein’s nuanced take on the inescapable impact the internet has on our lives.”

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Production photo by Michael Brosilow

Keeping the audience on the edge of their seats, Right To Be Forgotten is fast-moving, witty and irreverent at times. I found myself pulling for the likable (if slightly pitiable) Derril Lark. Yet there was a voice in the back of my mind, telling me that I would feel differently, if I were the subject of his teenage obsession. Ultimately, nothing in the play is a black and white. Is any lie justifiable? Should a life be permanently sullied by a series of poor teenage choices? Who and when deserves forgiveness, and do we really ever forget? And most importantly, should we all go home and Google ourselves to unearth the data lurking on the internet, however disturbing it may be?

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Production photo by Michael Brosilow

These questions are timely in the digital information age, when we must fact check everything to avoid spreading a falsehood. It is no surprise that this play is wildly popular and had to be extended. We can see our own reflection in every character on stage. All of them are human and deeply flawed like the rest of us. Normal, as the saying goes, is just a setting on the dryer. But even in all our weirdness, we long to have someone stand by our side no matter what, unconditionally. We all seek redemption from time to time. To forgive is human, but digital foot print is forever, it seems. And the two have to find a way to coexist.

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Production photo by Michael Brosilow

Right To Be Forgotten is now playing through April 2, 2023, at Raven Theatre Johnson Stage, 6157 N. Clark Street, in Chicago North Side’s Edgewater neighborhood.

Tickets are available at raventheatre.com or by calling (773)338-2177.