FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, December 10, 2012
CONTACT: Cristina Williams at RICADV; Phone: (401) 467-9940; Cell: (917) 940-3729
Fifteen women from the nationally recognized task force of survivors tell real stories of domestic violence, hope and survival to a full audience at the Trinity Repertory Company Dowling Theater. SOAR is also one of four recipients in the country to recently receive the Mary Byron Award for their work in creating innovative solutions to end domestic violence such as Behind Closed Doors.
[Providence, RI] Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships (SOAR) today debuted the sold-out play, Behind Closed Doors, a collaboration with Trinity Repertory Company. (The play's opening night was to be the signature event of Domestic Violence Awareness Month for the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV); however, Hurricane Sandy caused the postponement.)
"A loving mother, sister and wife; a level 2 non-violence trainer; a proud full-time college student; a scientist; a nurse; a God fearing woman; and an advocate." This is how the different members of the cast of Behind Closed Doors define themselves. All of the fifteen women who wrote and performed the play are also survivors of domestic violence and members of SOAR. The play itself is a scripted, true account of their experiences.
The goal of the performance was to draw the audience into the women's lives with the hope of dispelling the stigmas of domestic violence. This was done by giving attendees answers to puzzling questions: What does an abusive relationship look like? Why does abuse happen? What are the barriers to leaving? And, how can people make a difference? Carmen Recalde-Russo, SOAR Coordinator, says Behind Closed Doors was designed to enlighten and move viewers, and, most importantly, inspire them to create change.
The SOAR survivors were mentored by Trinity Repertory Company teaching artists Michael Williams and Francesca Montanile throughout the process of writing and performing the play. "It was a draining process, bringing back all those memories. I was opening the doors wide open, so we are not behind closed doors anymore," says Patricia Rivera, one of the cast members.
Through their involvement in Behind Closed Doors and with the survivors of SOAR, the Trinity Repertory Company is pledging their support of RICADV's NO MORE campaign, which asks the community to help end domestic violence. Back in October at the RICADV press conference for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, guests (including Senators Reed and Whitehouse, Congressmen Langevin and Cicilline, and Attorney General Kilmartin) gave great reviews after witnessing a special preview performance of the play, which consisted of three individual experiences of domestic violence shared in three unique formats.
"As a theatremaker and citizen, I am saying NO MORE to domestic violence and sexual assault by using the arts and theatre to shine light on an issue that has been kept silent for far too long. By sitting in a room with these incredible women, seeing their faces, hearing their words and sharing in their struggles and triumphs, together we can gain a greater understanding of domestic violence and sexual assault and charge ourselves and our community to enact change," said Michael Williams. "It is a humbling experience indeed to work with such courageous, driven, endlessly creative women," he added.
"Behind Closed Doors," said Deborah DeBare, executive director of RICADV, "is a wonderful example of the community standing up and saying NO MORE to domestic violence. In producing the play with SOAR, the Trinity Repertory Company has given these women - survivors of domestic violence - a unified voice and a platform to tell their stories." She added, "It's a perfect medium to impart such critical information and bring it to the forefront—by using innovative solutions we hope the message will resonate loudly. Domestic violence is a community epidemic that claims the lives of three women per day and we must all do our part to end it."
The sisters of Zeta Tau Alpha and the Women's Center Peer Advocates at the University of Rhode Island recently did their part to raise dating violence awareness by hosting a special preview screening on December 7 for the student community. Their efforts were driven by facts and trends like those showing that there is a high prevalence of intimate partner violence at colleges and universities across the nation, and girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest levels of this abuse, almost triple the national average.
The opening night performance of Behind Closed Doors was a special "pay-what-you-can" performance and all proceeds are going to support RICADV and SOAR in raising awareness to end domestic violence. SOAR members also held a Q&A session after the performance and a congratulatory reception for cast, crew and sponsors, which included title sponsor Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island. SOAR also received a grant from The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) to develop and produce Behind Closed Doors. Additional information about the play may be found at www.soarinri.org.
About Behind Closed Doors:
Behind Closed Doors is an original play written and performed by 15 survivors of domestic violence from SOAR. This performance is a true account of their experiences with domestic violence, hope and survival, and seeks to draw you into their lives to dispel the stigmas of this often misunderstood abuse. The script was crafted by Trinity Repertory Company teaching artists Michael Williams and Francesca Montanile, who mentored the SOAR members in cultivating their performances. The play was developed over ten 90-minute sessions in which the survivors journaled, wrote poetry and told stories that were weaved into a play composed completely of their own words. The women speak both their own words and the words of their fellow survivors. All proceeds from Behind Closed Doors benefit SOAR/RICADV in raising awareness to end domestic violence.
SOAR (Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships) is a nationally recognized task force of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, made up of survivors of domestic violence. SOAR's mission is to promote, advocate and work towards the elimination of domestic violence and to embody and give visibility to the voices of abused women. SOAR is the only group in Rhode Island specifically working on systems change that entirely consists of domestic violence survivors, and is a leader among similar groups in the nation.
SOAR is one of only four recent recipients of the highly competitive 2012 Mary Byron Award Celebrating Solutions. This monetary award is given to organizations across the country for their work in implementing solutions that fight domestic violence or serve domestic violence survivors and families.
The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the six domestic violence prevention agencies in Rhode Island. The organization supports its six member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island.