Telluride Theatre & SMRC: Presenting #MeToo, 5/10

Telluride Theatre & SMRC: Presenting #MeToo, 5/10

The Downlow is an evening of storytelling and an initiative of Telluride Theatre. The theme of the show Thursday, May 10, 7 p.m., a collaboration with the San Miguel Resource Center, is #MeToo. The event takes place at Sheridan Opera House SHOW Bar and is FREE and open to the public. (A $10 suggested donations; a hat will be passed.) The show is for everyone, ages 21+. Please join the conversation and be a part of the movement.

Telluride Theatre and The San Miguel Resource Center present #MeToo, a night of performance, Downlow stories & connection. I

n the era of #MeToo, the two organizations are coming together to show that consent is not only sexy, but mandatory, and that sexual assault is still a major issue. It will be a very special night of performance: part-theatre, part-poetry, part-survivor stories.

The #MeToo movement was founded nearly a decade ago by social justice activist Tarana Burke. However, it really took hold in 2017 when high- profile individuals, using their fame and celebrity, advanced the cause by breaking the silence and coming forward with stories about sexual assault and harassment, opening the gates for everyone to follow.

#MeToo has created an important space within the broader community for survivors to share their stories, to be heard, and to be believed. Emerging from the shadows, sexual assault and sexual harassment are now the subject of daily conversations.

The movement has broken down barriers, including the fear of not being believed, not feeling safe, not feeling validated by laws on the books and disruption of personal lives. It helps individuals to not feel isolated in their experiences.

The San Miguel Resource Center hosted a series of #MeToo Community Conversations, facilitated by Drs. Susannah Smith and Marshall Whiting. The forum was open to all individuals to discuss the movement in the context of the Telluride community and explore what steps might be taken to bring this national movement to a local level to address sexual violence in our box canyon. (Find that story here.)

A major theme that emerged from the conversation was the idea of, okay, now what next: Now that people recognize sexual violence as a problem, how do we navigate this era in which people fear interactions with each other because of not wanting to perpetrate harassment? How do we create safer spaces for people of all identities?

Emily Osan, prevention educator, San Miguel Resource Center, recalls how the collaboration came about:

“The idea to do a #MeToo night of storytelling arose when local community members, including Susan Viebrock, suggested SMRC consider collaborating with Telluride Theatre’s Downlow to create a safe platform for survivors to share their experiences. In planning the event, we all agreed the evening should also be an opportunity to educate the community about consent, deepen our collective understanding of sexual violence, and challenge everyone to be part of the change.”

“When the San Miguel Resource Center contacted us about collaborating, we really wanted to create something that would shinesa light on sexual harassment and assault – but in a way that is entertaining, moving, palatable, educational and, at time, even a little but funny. We are excited to bring this conversation to the stage because it so important to continue to talk about consent and share stories about where to go from here,” states Sasha Sullivan, artistic director, Telluride Theatre.

Sasha worked with The Downlow’s, (Telluride Theatre’s storytelling event) creator Laura Idema Shaunette to plan the night, but as they worked it became clear that this was not going to be just a storytelling night. “We wanted to utilize different ways of telling these stories, since the subject matter is so intense we really looked for ways to make the night have something for everyone,” says Sullivan.  The SMRC has provided survivor accounts that Telluride Theatre will read, and supplemented by skits, poetry, stories and songs.

“Our goal with this #MeToo event is to bring this important (and often heavy) material out in a way that is accessible to both understand and discuss as a community.  There are so many brave women coming forward in the movement, many of whom are part of our small town. They don’t owe anyone their stories, but have chosen to share for their own reasons, and so have given us an opportunity to learn and grow. Though the subject matter is uncomfortable, it’s important for us to support those who have gone through these experiences, as well as figure out how to help society do better now and moving forward,” says Laura Idema Shaunette, creator and co-producer The Downlow.

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