ReACT! theater group raises domestic violence awareness

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In observance of Domestic Assault Awareness month, a Grand Valley State University theater group is taking conversations about the power of language directly to students via The Rapid 50 Campus Connector bus.

On October 23 and October 27, Grand Valley’s peer educational theater group, ReACT!, performed short, seemingly impromptu skits centered around objectifying women. The performances occurred on The Rapid 50 Campus Connector buses traveling between the Allendale Campus and the Meijer store in Standale.

Allison Metz, ReACT! program director and assistant professor of theater at Grand Valley, said the goal of these “guerilla theater” performances is to “get people to think about the power of language and its impact on attitudes toward interpersonal violence, specifically sexual assault.”

Metz said guerrilla theater refers to a type of surprise performance where scenes occur in public spaces and only the actors know the material is a performance.

“Usually the scenes have a goal of social change and use some sort of shock factor, like profanity or taboo subjects, to grab bystanders’ attention,” said Metz.

Following the performances, bus riders were reminded of the many resources provided by Grand Valley’s Women’s Center on the Allendale Campus following the performances.

The ReACT! group uses theater performances to raise awareness of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. Student actors perform in smaller, more intimate settings on Grand Valley’s campuses throughout each academic year, such as classrooms and conference rooms. The students encourage audience members to explore how they can engage in realistic, safe and effective methods of preventing interpersonal violence and help survivors get connected with valuable social services.

ReACT! exists through a partnership, which began in 2011, between Grand Valley’s Women’s Center and the School of Communications Theatre program.

Metz said the ReACT! group is planning more guerrilla theater performances, which will take place in November.