Visiting Performers Educate Students on Domestic Violence Issues

Photo by Nicole Williams

“From Ashes to Angel’s Dust: A Journey Through Womanhood,” a performance put on with the help of the Women’s Center, aimed to broaden understanding of the effects caused by domestic violence and a dangerous social climate. The abbreviated version of this touring play begins at the height of the abuse of the characters, where irreparable damage comes to a head and, in the most extreme case, one of the characters is slain.

Playwright Zoe Flowers, a survivor of domestic and sexual violence, wrote the play after conducting a series of interviews that became her book “Dirty Laundry: Women of Color Speak up about Dating & Domestic Violence” and later crafted it into the ChoreoDrama.

“What you see is a collaboration of many women’s stories,” Flowers stated in the question and answer session following the performance.

The play presented a variety of domestic violence situations, including the less common female-to-female assault, told from a variety of perspectives and covering a spectrum of attacks that all lead to a trying path of recovery. With few props or costumes, the simplicity of combining poetry, monologues and vignettes creates a mystically raw power.

Another important segment was that of the pressure and impact the mass media has on the way people think about domestic violence. What is traditionally thought to be emblematic of abuse is often not the behavior that is exhibited by victims, and while these signs are not immediately obvious, the performance presented the ways in which victims attempt to fabricate an image of well being despite their circumstances.

One set piece engaged with the culture of victim blaming, the casualness of denial from non-victims and the logic that is strung together in the defense of the accused party. This cultural phenomenon leads women to blame themselves and eventually not speak out against their attacker.

The company eyes to continue to tour the country and abroad with their message about the importance of domestic violence awareness and institutions put in place to help victims of any creed.

“I think just that moment when the person felt heard, when they felt understood, I think that’s what inspires us to do the work that we do,” said actress and producer Sherri Pullum.

This version of the play ends on a lighter note, however – one of redemption and self-love that is ultimately the key to begin healing, as acknowledged by Flowers.

“Healing is a journey and I don’t think it’s ever going to end,” she said. “It’s always a process."