By Donasia Sykes
Some years ago, Mihal Grass Sherman met with a theatre director to discuss a potential role. The director touched her knee against her wishes and expressed a desire to sleep with her. In “Crumbs,” Ms. Sherman leads the audience through this event, and through another formerly suppressed traumatic memory.
Through a mix of storytelling and performance art, Ms. Sherman tells the audience about two periods of her life when she experienced sexual harassment and abuse by powerful men: her singing teacher and the director. She condemns a culture that silences victims and tries to explain away what happened to them.
Her first experience with sexual harassment took place when she was eighteen. After her old singing teacher died, she started taking lessons with a new teacher who was exceptionally talented, but who had a reputation for touching his students. For their first lesson, she wore loose-fitting clothing to appear unattractive to him. But it didn’t work; during each lesson, he gained her trust in order to lower her guard.
After a class in which the harassment escalated to assault, she told her mother, who washed away the evidence instead of helping her report the teacher. Many people would rather bury or hide trauma than help the victims. Ms. Sherman said that her husband once remarked that women who put themselves in “positions where they could be assaulted” are stupid.
Throughout the play, Ms. Sherman uses clothes to expose her dirty laundry and clothespins to share her pain. Upon confronting the teacher, she put on layers of clothes as a shield between her and her abuser. It’s uncertain whether the teacher or the director faced any consequences for the harm they caused Ms. Sherman or other women. But her stories shed light on how predators choose their prey, and what survivors go through when they make the decision to report their assault.
“Crumbs. A disturbing one‑woman show about Sexual Harassment”
Written and Performed by Mihal Grass Sherman
Nov. 13 at 7:30pm
Director & Designer: Maya Nitzan
Show Image by Nili Caspi-Litvak, courtesy of the production
United Solo 2018
410 West 42nd Street
New York City
DONASIA SYKES is a freelance writer currently based out of Brooklyn, NY. She graduated with a BA in English and Textual Studies with a concentration in Creative Writing from Syracuse University, where she saw and performed in various small stage shows.