Community theatre project takes aim at domestic violence

The often-hidden problem of domestic violence will fall under the spotlight when a community-created theatre production initiated by SUNY Oswego, “No Such Thing As Solo,” runs Nov. 5 to 7 at the Frances Marion Brown Theatre in Fort Ontario Park in Oswego.

From local law-enforcement figures, Services to Aid Families estimates that police answer around 3,200 domestic-violence calls every year in Oswego County. That kind of staggering statistic led Jonel Langenfeld-Rial of SUNY Oswego’s theatre department to apply for, and receive, a $10,857 Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation grant to bring in community theatre artist Peggy Shaw to create a production about surviving domestic violence. Shaw has begun working with students and community members to produce a show about how and why people feel safe.

“The level of domestic abuse in this county is sky-high, and we want to provide support for people who have been through this,” said Langenfeld-Rial. “Too many people have ignored this issue for too long.”

One of her earliest moves was to partner with SAF, which provides services for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault. Last year, 53 women and 81 children in crisis who had nowhere else to go received shelter at the organization’s safe house, SAF said, with an average stay of 31 nights. This family services program also connects survivors to any requested legal (such as custody) advisers, finds them apartments and links them with social services agencies. Overall, SAF provided nearly 550 residents family services assistance last year.

An Oswego County Opportunities program, SAF also offers free, confidential counseling for any survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault as well as a range of educational and prevention programs.

A victim support project that is a partnership between SAF and the county’s District Attorney’s Office, triggered when a domestic violence case comes through the system, served 580 people in 2003. This program provides court advocacy, financial assistance and emotional support.

Langenfeld-Rial also contacted the SUNY Oswego Women’s Center to partner with the effort. The Women’s Center sponsors a number of activities during October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Take Back the Night Week includes an Oct. 18 “No Such Thing As Solo/Surviving Domestic Violence” panel presentation and the annual campus Take Back the Night March rallying against violence Oct. 21.

The premiere of “No Such Thing as Solo” at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5, will salute Services to Aid Families, with all tickets $20.

The production will preview at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, with all seats $5. The show also has an 8 p.m. curtain Nov. 6 and a 2:30 p.m. start Nov. 7. Tickets for those shows cost $12, $10 for seniors and students, $7 for SUNY Oswego students.

This project is made possible in part by Artists and Communities, a program of Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, and by major funding from J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation. It is carried out in cooperation with Artswego, Services to Aid Families and the Oswego Players. The Target Corp. provided additional funding.

For reservations, call the Tyler Hall box office at 312-2141.

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(Posted: Oct 15, 2004)