CMU School of Drama Directors Series
Pittsburgh, PA; March 2015
By Eleanor Bishop, Dan Giles, and Savannah Reich
Steubenville responds to rape culture in the United States by questioning the problematic narratives surrounding rape and romance. The play examines gendered roles in sexual and romantic relationships through a collage of interviews with women at CMU, pop culture references, news outlets, an adaptation of Sleeping Beauty, and the story of “Jane Doe’s” rape in Steubenville, Ohio, in 2012.
I collaborated with a team of artists to devise this Wooster-Group-esque play about the Steubenville rape case of 2012 and rape culture in the United States. I provided new play dramaturgy (through analyses of consecutive drafts and support through a year of development and workshops) as well as production dramaturgy support, and I helped create the piece’s final structure.
I also surveyed students on their opinions on sex, gender, and rape culture, and I interviewed key figures on campus about current controversies and confusions over CMU’s sexual violence prevention policies. All of this data, including a flowchart I designed to better explain CMU’s policies when a sexual violence report is filed, became the cornerstone of my program note. Read my program note here.
In addition, I had a large role in the company as the community outreach and audience enrichment point-person. I moderated talkbacks after every performance to help the audience continue the conversations about how we can respond to rape culture.
I worked closely with community members on campus and in Pittsburgh working to fight sexual violence and support sexual violence survivors. These individuals and groups included: Jess Klein, CMU’s Coordinator of Gender Programming and Sexual Violence Prevention; CMU’s University Health Services; CMU’s Survivor Support Network; and PAAR (Pittsburgh Action Against Rape). All of these people were wonderful in helping us to a) educate and provide support for the creative team, b) add expert opinions to our talkback panels, and c) provide support for the audience after seeing the play by offering professional resources and sponsoring refreshments in the lobby. (Lobby photos by Rachel Abrams)
Finally, after our run closed, I presented a summary of our work and what we learned about gender dynamics through working on Steubenville at a conference for gender studies scholars and experts.
Check out a PDF copy of my presentation slides here.
Read our stellar review in CMU’s campus newspaper, The Tartan: http://thetartan.org/2015/3/23/pillbox/steubenville
Featured in TCG’s American Theatre Magazine.
Featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Featured in The Piper