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ReAct informs GV about dating violence through skits

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Photo: Courtesy photo / Grand Valley Lanthorn

Courtesy Photo / Rene Rodriguez
Members of reACT from left to right: Brian Murray, Erin Quetell, Kaerissa Bradley, Lydia Benkert and Dmitri Westbrook

Dating violence, sexual assault and stalking can be difficult subjects to broach, but the student group ReAct hopes to make the taboo topic easier to talk about.

ReAct, a group of student actors, perform skits for the Grand Valley State University community, classes and clubs in an effort to educate students on the realities of sexual assault in a way that is not intimidating.

“I’m an activist,” said ReAct member Erin Quetell. “I’m always looking for a (way) to give a voice to the victims and survivors.”

The ReAct performances are sketches and skits that display actual situations that have come from or pertain to instances of dating and domestic violence. They explore what has happened in situations with violence and show how to avoid such situations without escalating problems.

“I was going through my second year of R.A. (resident assistant) training where we had a presentation about sexual assault,” said ReAct member Dmitri Westbrook. “They told us about the opportunity of sharing this information and about ReAct. Afterwards I knew I wanted to be a part of getting the word out there.”

ReAct is set up from a partnership of GVSU’s Women’s Center and theater department and is made up of GVSU students who perform realistic situations pertaining to dating violence. Most performances take place in GVSU courses by request, but those not enrolled in the specific classes hosting the performances may still attend.

ReAct will also hold a non-classroom performance in January as well as a performance at Rock Against Rape in March.

In addition to addressing specific situations that may be familiar to college students, ReAct also defines terms such as “consent,” which they define as an unquestionable yes rather than the absence of a no.

According to statistics from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, one in six women and one in 33 men in the U.S. alone will be the victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault in their lifetime.

“Education, motivation and impetus to share this knowledge with other people are what I think I’ve gained from this experience,” said Brian Murray, a ReAct actor. “The things we talk about in ReAct are things everyone should know about, and I would highly suggest you come to a performance if you can.”

Performers in ReAct receive a $250 stipend after a semester through funding from the Office on Violence Against Women, part of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Auditions to join ReAct for the 2012-2013 will take place in the fall. The organization hires actors for the full year.

“If you’re passionate about making changes in these areas then ReAct is a great place to do that,” Murray said.

For more information about ReAct visit www.gvsu.edu/theatre and click on the ReACT! link on the sidebar. To request ReAct for a classroom presentation, contact GVSU professor Allison Metz at metza@gvsu.edu.

rrodriguez@lanthorn.com



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