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March 24, 2004


STUDENTS TO CREATE PLAY ABOUT ABUSE SURVIVORS

    OSWEGO -- A grant and a residency program will enable a group of SUNY Oswego students to create a play about surviving domestic abuse.

    The $10,857 Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation grant will bring Peggy Shaw of the Split Britches troupe to campus for five weeks to oversee the creation of the performance piece, "No Such Thing As Solo," said Jonel Langenfeld-Rial, an assistant professor of theatre who coordinates the project. Students taking  part in a quarter-session class in the fall will devise, script and perform in the original production.

    Langenfeld-Rial has begun connecting with campus and community groups. She has talked to Oswego County Opportunities' Services to Aid Families program and the women's studies department, and plans to work with the Women's Center on campus, among others. The assistant professor of theatre said she would be happy to work with "anybody and everybody" on campus or in the community willing to help.

    Students in the class will interview survivors of domestic violence, but Langenfeld-Rial emphasized that they are collecting information that will contribute to a positive message. "The piece will be about people moving on and making a new life for themselves," she explained. "We're not going to dwell on what happened."

    Ultimately the goal involves a "re-imaging" process, letting survivors "visualize that perfect someone they want to be," she said. "Anybody can be whatever they want if they put their mind to it."

    The production will aim to raise awareness, particularly in a county where the level of domestic abuse is alarmingly high, she said. "We're hoping that women of any age can know that if they are being abused, that there is help out there," Langenfeld-Rial said. "There is support out there and they can look at these women who have moved on with their lives."

    Another target is "to educate young women that they don't have to put up with any type of harassment," she noted. "For the general community, I want them to open their eyes and not to close their eyes to domestic violence."

    She stressed that men are encouraged to be part of the process. "It's not like we're saying that it only happens to women, because it doesn't," Langenfeld-Rial said. "But the focus of this production will be on what happens to women."

    Langenfeld-Rial said part of the learning process will develop from students hearing stories from women who have made something positive from such a negative experience. "There are some women out there with stories that they think may not be important," she said. "But they are important, and they may have things to share that can help others."

    For more information about the project, contact Langenfeld-Rial at langenfe@oswego.edu.

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