'de(fine)d lines: Allison and Chas' uses theater to address interpersonal violence

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  • From rehersal. Pictured from left: Aimee Buchanan and Quinn Curley.

  • Pictured from left: Jamie Lowenstein and Aimee Buchanan.

Two vital community organizations have joined forces to create Pass It Along Players, a group made up of teens that will present its debut play about interpersonal violence entitled "de(fine)d lines: Allison and Chas" at the New Jersey State Fair/Sussex County Farm and Horse Show, in Augusta, on Sunday, August 10th at 12 pm in the County Building.

Pass It Along Players is a collaboration between non-profit organizations DASI (Domestic Abuse & Sexual Assault Intervention Services) and Pass It Along, and its members are high-schoolers who have a passion for social justice, are invested in social change, wish to address issues of interpersonal violence in a nontraditional way and love the arts.

“We try to work with DASI whenever possible, and when they received the grant for this program, we jumped at the opportunity to collaborate and form Pass It Along Players,” said Kelly Bonventre, Director of Programs and Annual Events at Pass it Along.

Pass It Along Players uses community theater as a medium to address the role of bystanders in the prevention of interpersonal violence. Interested teens received bystander intervention and violence prevention training and worked to create a play that highlights these issues.

"Our prevention program is funded by the NJ Department of Children and Families, Division on Women," said DASI's Sexual Assault Program Director, Gwen Federico, "These young people are amazing and have so much talent and passion for social change."

Steve Seland, the Prevention and Intervention Program Coordinator at DASI said, “We had seen several programs similar to this done in other places and they were a real inspiration to start something here. The outcome is an engaging way to involve teens and impart skills to them while at the same time serving as an educational program we can take into the community.“

The Pass It Along Players use sociodrama to create plays that address topics including dating violence, sexual violence, and bullying. During and after performances, actors will remain in their roles so the audience can engage in discussions with the characters from the play and gain a greater understanding of why they chose the actions that they did. Additionally, the audience will be encouraged to offer suggestions and advice to the characters so that they can make a more informed decision in the future.

Jennifer Luong, Primary Prevention Educator at DASI, is in charge of the Players and said, “I facilitated the process and the teens really did some amazing work.” Bonventre added, “These teens have been working on this diligently all summer and have come up with a quality performance. They have a huge buy-in to the concept. It's going to be great.”

DASI provides comprehensive services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their families and Pass It Along is dedicated to helping teenagers become more self-assured, resilient and compassionate through self-discovery, volunteerism and leadership. With the creation of this play, and others in the future, the collective can now perform in a variety of community spaces and educate community members on these issues.

For information on booking the PIA Players or becoming involved, contact Steve Seland at 973-579-2386 ext. 223.

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