“Right to be Forgotten” is a must see for WCHS students


Courtesy of Hannah Zozobrado

As viewers walk into the Arena Stage venue, they are handed this play program book with Derril Lark, the main character of the play, in the center.

By Hannah Zozobrado, Arts Editor

A young, awkward and naive high school boy named Derril Lark is infatuated with a girl, Eve Selinsky. Desperate to ensure she’s safe and well, he follows his newfound love home day after day, unaware that his actions may be misconstrued as stalkerish or possessive. However, despite his pure intentions, Eve notices him. Paranoia floods her as she lives the rest of her senior year of high school in fear of this complete stranger following her every move. Then suddenly, a blog goes viral, and the very first post: “Derril Lark is a stalker.”

This story originates in playwright Sharyn Rothstein’s “Right to be Forgotten,” surrounding the life of Derril Lark; even 10 years after his incident with Selinsky, the term “stalker” follows him around. With his viral online reputation, Lark is unable to move on with his life—jobs decline their offers, potential love interests turn him down and overbearing guilt hangs over his head.

“Right to be Forgotten” touches on the real-life controversy surrounding the right granted to citizens of the European Union on removing false or outdated information about themselves from the interwebs. Despite this, the events in the play take place in the U.S. as the characters face their trials within the American capitalist system and technology-dependent society. Derril Lark and his justice-seeking lawyer, Marta Lee, battle against large, powerful and rich tech corporations to remove this wounding information about him.

In a world where word spreads easily online and is accessible to anyone with a cellular device, the media serves as a great platform to spread newswhether it is true or not. However, the argument against the right to be forgotten is the right to information; if people are able to erase any information about themselves online, what’s stopping powerful corporations and political figures from doing so as well?

While Eve Selinsky (Guadalupe Campos) generally believes that the act of erasing one’s mistakes online is unsettling, she is able to see both sides of the coin. 

“I believe in the right to information and the access to it,” Campos said. “I actually don’t necessarily agree with the right to be forgotten, but I do question whether there’s room to have both; how we decide that, though, is difficult because it’s so complex.”

Campos’ character is a normal high school girl, like those of WCHS. One thing that binds reality and characteristics of this play is the idea that high school is a time of absorbing new information from a variety of people. During this period in their lives, events leave a lasting impression and often impact future choices. 

On top of the argument within Lark’s case, “Right to be Forgotten” grazes numerous other real-world controversies, one of the many being the idea of young females’ vulnerability to possible male predators. Campos reflects on an incident she once faced in her high school experience, connecting it with her character.

“I remember briefly making eye contact with this guy in high school, and he followed me after school as I was going to my theater rehearsal,” said Campos. “Rehearsal spaces are often in basements and super dark. He followed me and cornered me, but I managed to get away.”

While “Right to be Forgotten” references many other prevalent real-world issues, it generally focuses on the battle between Lark and the tech companies. Despite the audience eagerly wanting to know if the right to be forgotten trumps the right to information, Lark’s trial, in the end, is left open to the audience for interpretation. The open-ended finale gives way to how the debate still lives on in modern American society that is reliant technology.

The set of the play is also quite modern itself: minimal props in all-white with numbers and words projected onto the stage to almost futuristically reflect technology. The robotic sound effects bask the audience into what feels like an environment of complete automation, making it easier to demonstrate how complicated technology could be beyond the screens of our portable devices.

The complexity of technology nowadays is at times difficult to manage, especially when parts of your identity can be so easily found online. Campos believes that one notion viewers should take with them after watching the show is that it is important to understand when to forgive those who attack us. She elaborates as she talks of her own experiences and her personal identity. 

“I do think that it’s important to take a step back and allow yourself to forgive and to heal,” Campos said. “I think we live in a time of constant attacking, especially for me as a woman, as a first-generation Mexican-American, as a daughter of immigrants and as a brown person walking around in this world.

Eve Selinsky in “Right to be Forgotten” attempts to forgive Derril for the trauma he had caused her over the years after he is able to explain his side of the story. Though forgiveness may be difficult at times, it is a catalyst in the process of healing and moving on. Overall, technology is a lot more than the glaring screen it appears to be. 

While displaying the difference in opinion between the right to information and the right to erase information about themselves online, “Right to be Forgotten” excels in establishing other world issues that may have to do with it. The play also leaves the ending open-ended and Lark’s case unsolved as a tribute to how, in reality, society has yet to draw a line between overlapping rights that obstruct each other. Despite there being no resolution, there still are lessons that viewers can take from this complex but truthful play.

“I think we have to be very careful of the energy in general that we put out into the world because you never know when a comment is going to come back and bite you,” Campos said. “Like that saying ‘energy can’t be created or destroyed,’ no matter what, it’s going to affect you and have an effect on someone else, as well. I think that that’s something we tend to forget when we’re online.”