Play tells stories of survivors of domestic and sexual violence

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 6:44 PM EDT
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BUENA VISTA, Va. (WDBJ) - They were laying down tape to mark positions in an impromptu theater at a pavilion in Buena Vista that is more accustomed to bluegrass bands than plays.

“The whole goal is to get the stories out there to be heard, because the stories offer healing,” said playwright and director Stephanie Sandberg.

Stories of abuse, in the words of actual survivors.

“So it’s not based on a true story,” said Judy Casteele, the Executive Director of Project Horizon. “It is a true story.”

And it will be performed by the staffers of Project Horizon, who are familiar from their work to help victims.

“Originally we talked about using actors, and I said I think our staff should do it,” Casteele said. “They know the stories, they know the people. It is a first for us; we’ve never done any kind of acting.”

“But the thing that’s amazing is that these people who work at Project Horizon embody these stories,” Sandberg said, “because they live with and work with the people every day who are experiencing this. So it’s like instant that they understand the character.”

Washington and Lee University student Lauren Hayes helped assemble the script and is working as the assistant director.

“It’s very difficult to get through, but at the same time it’s very rewarding,” she said of the work, “because you’re able to see a perspective that not a lot of people are comfortable talking about, and it is an area that a lot of people are ignorant about and not knowing the full scope of the issue.”

Something they hope to change by making the play and an accompanying film available to other groups like Project Horizon throughout the state.

“We don’t want to keep it to ourselves,” Casteele said.

They perform the play Thursday at 7 p.m. in the pavilion in Buena Vista’s Glen Maury Park. Admission is free.

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