The Survivor Theatre Project
This original theatre piece was written, performed, and directed by survivors of sexual violence who participated in an extended theatre workshop and performance experience offered by the Survivor Theatre Project. The actors who created the play had no previous acting experience.
The piece was debuted in December of 2008 at Emerson College. In May of 2009 the play was performed at the Dance Complex in Cambridge. Produced in collaboration with the Women's Center, Incest Resources, and the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, the event was an artistic and advocacy event as well as a networking event for groups and individuals to share information and build relationships. As a benefit for the Women's Center, both the performance and post-performance dialogue with the actors and director provided an engaging and effective means, through a community-viewed, survivor-created work, to challenge and change attitudes about sexual violence. In 2010 the piece was performed at The Central Square Theater in Cambridge as part of Incest Resources' 30th Anniversary event; at Bushwick Project For the Arts in Brooklyn, NY; at Dynamite Space in Northampton, MA; and at Wildlife Sanctuary at the Arts & Industry Building in Florence, MA.
"Rescuing Persephone: Surviving and Transforming Sexual Violence" conveys the anguish and challenges survivors face, the paths they find to recovery, and the hope and insight they can offer others. The play is honest, enlightening, affecting, and powerful. Post-performance dialogues have been open and lively, and have elevated public understanding and consciousness.
This second original theatre piece was written, performed, and directed by survivors of sexual violence who also participated in a Survivor Theatre Project extended workshop.
"The Memories of Trees" was debuted in October of 2010 at Studio 13 in Jamaica Plain, MA. In April of 2011 the play was performed at Recovery Learning Communities in Quincy, Framingham, and Worcester, MA, followed by audience-actor discussions. In July of 2011 the creators of "The Memories of Trees" performed and presented at the International Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference in Chicago.
"The Memories of Trees" is a play about surviving sexual violence, overcoming burden, and finding liberation. The tree, at first, is a source of innocence and playfulness. But the tree soon transitions into a symbol of childhood pain and chaos, as in the scene where the fruit is picked from the tree while it is still unripe. The multi-dimensionality of the tree builds as it also serves as a source of strength, and ultimately liberation as adult survivors struggle for healing and change.
"The Sound of Today" was performed in November of 2011 at the Cambridge Community Center. The staged reading was followed by a moving discussion between the audience and the artists. Since then, three of the actors have developed new pieces to perform as a duo or solo artist in other venues.
The piece made its debut at the Wildlife Sanctuary Studio in Florence, MA in November of 2011. In 2012, performances took place at the Yoga Sanctuary, Thornes Marketplace in Northampton, MA and the Cummington Community House in Cummington, MA. In 2013 "The World We Live In Is Not The World We Live In" was performed at Cambridge College for 21 Days of Questions/365 Days of Action, the City of Cambridge Campaign Against Domestic Violence. The piece was also performed at the invitation of the National Sexual Violence Advisory Council for their 2013 Annual Meeting, which took place in Greenfield, MA. Selections from the full-length play were shared with a live studio audience at Somerville Community Access Television. Showings aired in October and November of 2013 and are stored online in SCATV archives.
About the Survivor Theatre Project
The Survivor Theatre Project was founded in July of 2008 by theatre artist and survivor Melissa Penley Redwin, M.A. to provide survivors with a creative experience for healing, to increase their access to the performing arts, to bring their voices to the public discourse, and to expand awareness about the realities of sexual violence. The Project was developed in collaboration with Incest Resources, of which Melissa is a board member, and the Women's Center.
During the course of a series of theatre workshops, participants build an ensemble, learn theatre skills, create an original short play, and prepare the play for performance. The extended workshop culminates in theatre performances and post-performance dialogues with attending audiences.
In 2011 the Survivor Theatre Project extended its outreach to survivors in Western Massachusetts. Melissa developed a parallel workshop series based in Northampton, MA and another director, Rythea Lee, M.A. was brought on board to lead the new workshop.
The Survivor Theatre Project offers sexual trauma survivors a direct link to the performing arts and a chance to learn about and experience their own creativity and growth; a unique therapeutic approach to healing and empowerment; and an opportunity to be involved in activism on sexual violence. In 2013 the Survivor Theatre Project was honored to receive the Violence Transformed Award for Outstanding Performing Artist. To bring a performances to your area, read about the Survivor Theatre Project Touring Company at SurvivorTheatreProject.com.
The Survivor Theatre Project is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Cambridge Arts Council, The Northampton Arts Council, and the Puffin Foundation. For upcoming performances, click here.
To make an individual donation to the Survivor Theatre Project, please make checks payable to Incest Resources, Inc., with STP in the memo section, and mail to Incest Resources, 46 Pleasant Street, Cambridge, MA 02139. Incest Resources is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and contributions are tax-deductible.
Melissa Penley Redwin is a professional theatre artist, director, and educator originally from North Carolina. She completed her M.A. in Theatre Education at Emerson College in Boston, where she concentrated on directing, movement for actors, and theatre for social change. Melissa also holds a B.A. in Psychology, Art, and Spanish from Guilford College.
Melissa is a co-founder and member of the Scapegoat Theatre Collective in Asheville, North Carolina. Scapegoat produces relevant, provocative theatre to reach new and diverse audiences. In addition to producing, acting, and directing, Melissa led the outreach program at Scapegoat, teaching improvisation with adults, and drama and movement with youth through area organizations such as the NC Autism Society and Go-To-Goal Empowerment Program for Girls.
Melissa has been especially focused on her work with survivors of sexual violence and theatre as a mode of community education and healing. In July of 2008 she founded the Survivor Theatre Project in collaboration with Incest Resources, which she is a board member of, and the Women's Center.
Melissa teaches and performs with Enchanted Circle Theater, a professional educational theater company based in Holyoke, Massachusetts, which is dedicated to engaging, enhancing, and inspiring learning through the arts. She also works as a freelance artist and play director.
Melissa may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.