Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Shot Away: Personal Accounts of Military Sexual Trauma

By Byrne Harrison

According to the director's notes, it is estimated that 80% of sexual assaults involving military service members go unreported*.  Some victims are scared or humiliated.  Others run up against a military bureaucracy that either demands silence or blames the victims.  Some just want to forget.

Others, like Panayiota Bertzikis, try to make things better.  In 2006 she founded the Military Rape Crisis Center.

Panayiota is one of the victims of sexual assault whose story is told in Donna Fiumano-Farley's A Shot Away: Personal Accounts of Military Sexual Trauma currently being produced by The Red Fern Theatre Company at the LABA Theatre. Based on four years worth of interviews with many military victims of sexual assaults, A Shot Away shows the devastating effects of sexual assault and the military's cavalier attitude toward it.

The central story of A Shot Away concerns Tina Priest, who was sexually assaulted, then died in Iraq. The military claims it was a suicide, but the evidence uncovered by her mother, Joy (Jackie Sanders), and sister, Dani (Tara Ricasa), tells a different story.

As Joy and Dani talk about Tina, six other characters come out and tell their stories. Young and old, male and female, of varying ethnicities, each has a heart-wrenching story of abuse.

Fiumano-Farley's script is well written, and director Melanie Moyer Williams does an outstanding job guiding the action and making use of Katherine Akiko Day's large set.  The cast is exceptionally strong, and while it is hard to single out any particular performer, both Jackie Sanders and Elizabeth Flax are superb.

A Shot Away is certainly not a feel-good play.  If anything, it should be called a feel-outrage play.  But if that outrage moves you to support an organization like the Military Rape Crisis Center or simply to find out more about sexual abuse in the military, then Fiumano-Farley has done a good job.  The fact that she has created a play to both moves and entertains means she has done a great job.

A Shot Away: Personal Accounts of Military Sexual Trauma
By Donna Fiumano-Farley
Directed by Melanie Moyer Williams
Dramaturg: Ken Hall
Scenic Designer: Katherine Akiko Day
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Barrett Groth
Sound Designer: Colin J. Whitely
Lighting Designer: Marie Yokoyama
Properties Deisgner, Viral Makreting Director: Megan Eileen Kosmoski
Production Stage Manager: Michael Aaron Jones
Technical Director: Mike Tilton
Assistan Directors/Rehearsal Stage Managers: Barbara Harrison, Christine J. Schmidt
Sound Technician: Bruno Diaz
Artistic Associate: Kel Haney
Press Representative: Katie Rosin/Kampfire PR
Production Assistants: Tazio G., Lori Singleton

Featuring: Laura Anderson (Panayiota), Dana Berger (KC), Grant Chang (Amando), Elizabeth Flax (Shirley), Jessica Myhr (Marianne), Jeff Pierce (Michael), Tara Ricasa (Danielle Priest), Jackie Sanders (Joy Priest), Rafe Terrizzi (Soldier), Ian Way (Soldier)

LABA Theatre at the 14th Street Y
344 East 14th Street

Closed April 17th

*If this number is correct, over 13,000 sexual assaults involving military personnel occurred in 2007.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a victim of organized sexual abuse in the Air Force at Wilfred Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas during the Vietnam era, I can attest to the perversion that exists within the military system. Gang raped repeatedly during a three plus year timeframe, abducted from my hospital bed and kidnapped offbase for the weekend, one of my perpetrators has since died. But so many others still live, collecting their pensions and persisting in inflicting their sexual aggression and power over countless more women. Silent for over three decades, I am beginning to find my voice. Hurrah for those who have already found that speaking out may save another sister from a soul-paralyzing horror of subjecting themselves to sadistic domination in order to save their lives. Most perpetrators threatened to kill their victims to guarantee silence and maintain the perpetrators freedom to continue raping, abusing and terrorizing women available to them within the military system where military justice is all male. Kudos to you who wrote, performed and set the theatrical scene for such a horrendous secret that if brought out into the light, might change a culture of male abuse of power. Please keep up the good work. MG