People Who Make Theater: Seeing Rape – Using Creativity to Analyze and Re-Imagine Our World

A conversation with 
Barbara Cassidy and Shonna Trinch

Monday, March 26, 7:30PM
HB Playwrights Theater | 124 Bank Street
Suggested donation: $5-$10

“Seeing Rape” is a course at John Jay College of Criminal Justice taught by Shonna Trinch (a linguist) and Barbara Cassidy (a playwright) examining sexual violence across various disciplines. The students’ final projects are original short plays, from which Trinch and Cassidy choose 5-10 to be performed in the spring by professional actors.

Join Shonna and Barbara for a conversation about the work they do to foster an awareness of the power of creative visions both to analyze and re-imagine the world.

Moderated talk will be followed by a Q&A.

Barbara Cassidy received her MFA Playwriting from Brooklyn College. Her play, INTERIM, (nominated for the Barrie Stavis Award) premiered at SMU (Dallas) in March 2012, and is published in the anthology, NEW DOWNTOWN NOW. Her work has been seen in New York at The Flea Theatre, Playwrights’ Horizons, Little Theatre at Dixon Place, The New York International Fringe Festival, JACK and Bric Studios. She is a 2015 MacDowell Fellow and was a 2010-2011 LMCC Workspace Artist. She has received grants from the Brooklyn Arts Council and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, is an affiliated artist with New Georges, and is an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. This spring Barbara is organizing and leading the Sexual Justice NOW semester-long initiative at John Jay College. Her latest play is called MRS. LOMAN and is a feminist imagining of what could happen to someone like Linda Loman from Arthur Miller’s DEATH OF A SALESMAN after her husband Willy commits suicide.

Shonna Trinch, Ph.D. is a linguistic anthropologist and faculty member at John Jay College, CUNY in the Department of Anthropology. Shonna does research on topics ranging from rape, intimate-partner violence and narrative to Brooklyn’s gentrification, redevelopment, and eminent domain. Shonna has published several articles on gender-related violence in leading journals. Her first book, LATINAS’ NARRATIVES OF DOMESTIC ABUSE: DISCREPANT VERSIONS OF VIOLENCE (John Benjamins, 2003), examines how women report intimate-partner violence in different sociolegal settings. She is also completing a book entitled, What the signs say (forthcoming Vanderbilt University Press) with Edward Snajdr that examines how dominant culture establishes social hierarchy in gentrifying Brooklyn through storefront signs. Shonna gives talks on these topics in the U.S. and in Europe.

About Seeing Rape:
Seeing Rape has its genesis in 2013 when Professors Trinch and Cassidy began teaching the class and had their first reading of some student plays in the Black Box Theater at John Jay College. The program has grown immensely with the performance moving into the Gerald Lynch Theater which seats 1800. Shonna and Barbara enjoy teaching the class, Seeing Rape, because it offers opportunities to engage in an interdisciplinary study of sexual violence that reveals how ‘seeing and not seeing rape’ become problems for science, law, literature, art, theater, film and media. The cross-disciplinary nature of this semester-long study of sexual violence combines creative writing that trains students to write their own rape plays as their final projects. Shonna and Barbara choose the plays to bring to the stage with a diverse cast of professional New York City actors. The student-playwrights’ work reflects the diversity of John Jay College and ultimately, of NYC’s five boroughs from which the students come. The plays are followed by discussions about what happened on the stage and the broader meaning to the community. The hope is that the plays foster an awareness of the power of creative visions both to analyze and re-imagine the world. Additionally, a group of undergraduate students known as the Sexual Justice Ambassadors have been trained by Seeing Rape’s partner agencies (including the NYC Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence OCDV, the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault, and Womankind -formerly the NY Asian Women’s Center) and are ready to be mobilized to bring videos of the plays as well as interactive learning opportunities to college freshman and to advanced high school students, who can learn about campus rape prevention before their college careers get underway. Currently, Shonna and Barbara are devising a book project for Palgraves about the theoretical implications for and practical pedagogical applications of the Seeing Rape course and the public production of the student-playwrights’ work.