SRU’s Kaleidoscope show ‘Jane Doe’ addresses rape culture

Jane Doe classroom setting

“Jane Doe,” a participatory theatre show that reflects rape culture in our communities, will be part of Slippery Rock University’s Kaleidoscope Arts Festival at 7 p.m., April 19 in the Smith Student Center Ballroom.

April 18, 2017

Kaleidoscope Arts Festival 2017 logo

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -Slippery Rock University's Kaleidoscope Arts Festival will offer a participatory theatre show called "Jane Doe," at 7 p.m., April 19 in the Smith Student Center Ballroom. The one-hour show, which is open to the public and intended for mature audiences (ages 14 and older), hopes to influence social change in rape culture and raise awareness among participants and audience members alike.

Previously titled "We Are Steubenville," the show will involve select SRU students reading rape trial transcripts from an incident that occurred Aug. 11, 2012 in Steubenville, Ohio, as well as interviews with SRU students about the rape culture across all communities.

"Jane Doe" is created, written and directed by Eleanor Bishop, a New Zealand-born director who studied fine arts at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama. The show is touring colleges, many of which are in western Pennsylvania, facilitating a discussion with students as participants.

"Using performance art will carry the message in a different way than just having a lecture," said Jodiann Solito, director of SRU's Women's Center, the campus organization that helped bring "Jane Doe" to Kaleidoscope.

According to Solito, the show will deconstruct the issues of rape by using the trial transcript to call attention to issues such as objectification, feminism, victim-blaming, consent and bystander intervention. The show also localizes the Steubenville rape case by discussing rape culture on college campuses.

"We've gotten so used to hearing about rape," Solito said. "The concept of rape has infiltrated our day-to-day lives, even as far as language and how all of those kinds of thoughts and behaviors can reinforce a rape culture."

Sara Naughton, a senior English major from Erie and student employee in the Women's Center, brought the play to Solito's attention. From there, Solito worked with Kaleidoscope director Deanna Brookens, a theatre instructor at SRU, and solicited other SRU departments and organizations to sponsor the event.

Organizers of "Jane Doe" will conduct a workshop from 6-8 p.m., April 18 in the Smith Student Center theatre to select five students who will read during Wednesday night's show. Additionally, a group of eight to 10 students will have interviews recorded for the show and there will be opportunities for audience participation. In previous shows, audience members were able to text anonymous messages that became part of the show.

"For anyone interested in theatre for social change and social justice, this is exactly the experience you want to have," Brookens said. "I'm excited that we are able to get the experiences and skills to our students."

However, Solito stressed the importance of involving a cross-section of the campus community, not just theatre majors or student activists.

"That's the key," Solito said. "With the work I do with sexual violence awareness, we have a tendency to attract the same crowd. Because this is a different approach to the topic, and there would be someone they might know and recognize that will be in the performance, it would be more relatable."

For more information about "Jane Doe," visit http://wearejanedoe.org. For more information about SRU's Kaleidoscope Arts Festival, which runs April 13-29, visit http://www.sru.edu/life-at-sru/arts-and-culture/kaleidoscope-arts-festival.

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854 | justin.zackal@sru.edu