Production to look at surviving abuse

Writer and performer Peggy Shaw is getting to know the Oswego community in preparation for a show that shines the spotlight on surviving domestic violence. The SUNY Oswego production, “No Such Thing As Solo,” will premiere Friday, Nov. 5, in the Frances Marion Brown Theatre at Fort Ontario Park in Oswego.

Jonel Langenfeld-Rial of SUNY Oswego’s theatre department first proposed bringing Shaw to Oswego to develop a production to address the problem of domestic abuse. A community theatre production provides an accessible way to explore the issue while honoring survivors, but not dwelling on abuse or exploiting anyone, Langenfeld-Rial said.

This project shows “the unique ability of the arts to focus on the issue at hand,” said Mary Avrakotos, coordinator of college’s Artswego program. “This show will be very different from the ones we normally present where the audience is separated. Peggy is looking for ways to break down the division.”

Shaw brought 30 years of community theatre work when visiting the campus and community in September, gathering information, meeting with stakeholders and starting the creative process. She returned in early October for residency work to see the production through to fruition.

“This show is going to be about Oswego,” Shaw said, noting that she has been very excited to learn all the community has to offer. An example is trying to work the Safe Haven Museum—commemorating Oswego’s Fort Ontario as a one-of-a-kind shelter for nearly 1,000 European refugees during World War II—into the production

A prevailing theme involves asking where people feel safe, Shaw said. This question has been posed in free-writing exercises for SUNY Oswego students and in reaching out to domestic abuse survivors in safe houses run by Oswego County’s Services to Aid Families.

“For many people, the home is where they feel safe,” Shaw said. “For victims of domestic violence, home is where they don’t feel safe.”

Shaw looks forward to working with any interested residents of the local SAF house. “They’re very excited about creating new pieces,” Shaw said, adding that she asks participants to express themselves, including their future hopes, not dwell on the past.

A panel presentation, “No Such Thing As Solo/Surviving Domestic Violence,” is one part of the project. Robin Braunstein, SAF director, and Rebecca Burch of Oswego’s psychology department will join Shaw and Langenfeld-Rial for the discussion, which is admission-free and open to the community, at 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18, in Room 101 of Lanigan Hall.

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.

Recently, the Target Corp. added a $2,000 grant to support the cause, Langenfeld-Rial said.

The production will preview at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, with all seats $5. The premiere, at 8 p.m. Nov. 5, will be a benefit for Services to Aid Families, with all tickets $20.

The show’s regular run will have 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.

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

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(Posted: Oct 06, 2004)