Monthly Archives: September 2011

Breaking Plates: Uniting Survivors

Dear Featherhead Friends,

I think I may be ready to finally share with you the details of the Breaking Plates show that I wrote/produced with three other wonderful women.  It was such an intensely personal labor of love that when it was done (last month), I was done.  This really should have been written soon after the event, but sometimes you just need a little space, you know?  Anyway, allow me to tell you what Breaking Plates actually was and how it got started…
Earlier this year, Beth called for a girlfriends get-together.  She’d had an extraordinarily awful start to the year and just wanted to break some shit.  We went to her house with the sole intention of writing out our troubles, negativity and sorrows on old plates and smash them.  We also burned some writings and photographs.  It was merely meant to be a way to get things off of our chests and kill those monkeys that cling to your back, but this night evolved into so much more.  
I should probably mention now that all of us have experienced sexual abuse in our lives, we aren’t friends because of that fact, it’s something that showed itself after we’d already known each other.  That in itself goes to show you how many people experience abuse…in a handful of my friendships, I’ve found several survivors and that’s not even all of them.  I personally know 25 (and likely more) people who have experienced sexual abuse.  25.  And that is just in my circle.  How many survivors do you know?  I’d bet at least one and I’d also bet that you know others that just haven’t shared that part of themselves with you yet.  This is a huge global club that my girlfriends and I belong to.  It’s a club that often hides itself in silence, but that silence just creates more silence and we were sick of being silent.
This was the plate night…we had a lot to break.

After we had run out of plates, we sat around admiring our work and drinking wine.  I remarked on how awesome all of the shards looked with the broken writing and said that we should try making some art with them.  Nicolle added that we could see if we’d be able to display our art pieces in the gallery at our favorite local hangout and everyone jumped on board with the idea.  After we got the okay from the gallery, the beauty of evolution took place, our night of breaking and then art making turned into us each writing a monologue to be performed on the stage of opening night of the art exhibit.  Then we decided to try to raise some money from the night and donate it to the women and children of Harbor House.  This one spontaneous night of breaking plates had all of the sudden turned into a huge production.  We became sponsored by The Women Playwrights Initiative.  We held auditions and found wonderful actors to donate their craft to the night.  We had posters made and hung them up all over town.  We had a plexi-glass box built so that our guests could break a plate for a donation to Harbor House.

We packed the house.  (but sadly there was no photo taken of our spectacular crowd)  Aside from a few hard to hear moments for the guests in the back, everything went so well.
Angela (our fabulous director) and Doug (my love and wonderful narrator in between monologues)
1. Your Honor  2. What it Feels Like for a Girl  3. The Apple Tree
4. The Shelf   5. Call To Action 
Beth selling plates
Following the Call To Action, our guests followed us out to put their donations to use and break some plates.  They were given Sharpies and wrote on them just as we did.  Some of them wrote the names of their loved ones that they were dedicating their plate to.  Some may have written a bit of their story or just their name and others wrote ours in support of what we did.
The box just couldn’t handle all of the love & support  🙂
Doug, myself & Kristen (she read my poem The Shelf in the performance)

THE ART (IN ORDER OF PERFORMANCE)

Your Honor by Elizabeth Klunk
What it Feels Like for a Girl by Angela McDonald
The Shelf  by Me

The Apple Tree by Nicolle Avery Masters
Bustier by Kelledy Francis
I made this wall piece…it’s hard to tell, but our figures (while breaking plates or standing in victory) are popped out in 3D fashion as is the frame.  It turned out pretty cool.
We wrote/broke more plates w/ some color for the art wall as well.
Close up of Break the Silence
This is how we decorated the tables in the performance room
Us!
Beth, Angela, Me & Nicolle

This was a crazy ride.  Stressful with nerves galore…a little bit of drama…but all in all, soworth it.  We were all very proud of our accomplishment and bravery….telling your story in such a public way is not for the meek, that’s for sure.  I know it’s a night that we will never forget.  A night of demanding “No more!”  A night of breaking plates and breaking the silence.  xoxo, Jenna.

Book Review: Half the Sky

I spent my Labor Day finishing a book that I have been struggling with since last year.  It wasn’t the most cheerful way to spend a holiday, but it was an accomplishment because
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is not an easy read.

This book was extraordinarily hard to get through.  I put it down for days, weeks and even months in-between reads…not because it wasn’t good or wasn’t interesting…but because it was emotionally draining.  Maybe it’s because I’m a woman that made this book such a trial or maybe it’s because my body was violated just like so many in this book or maybe it’s just because I’m human.  

I’d like to believe that it’s just because I’m human and that any other (man/woman :: broken/unbroken) would feel similarly. Anyone who can read Half the Sky unaffected would be cause for great concern.

Emotional content aside, Half the Sky is a beast armed with so many facts, studies and statistics all while throwing abbreviations of terms and organizations at you left and right that it’s dizzying. Almost overwhelming at times, but to say this book is eye-opening is an understatement. To be bombarded with that much horror and injustice on one page is hard, but it’s page after page of real stories. Real people with names and faces, broken hearts, bodies and hopes. All of that is hard to swallow. It’s infuriating to the point of wanting those pages to be so far away from your body that you literally throw them, but then you pick it up again after you’ve had time to settle…after the days, weeks or months that it took…and you get to read of a real life super hero. Someone who has faced that horror and injustice and turned it into something golden. There are a lot of those stories in Half the Sky as well and it’s a mercy.

Read it if you dare. It is worth it, I promise.  
xoxo, Jenna

p.s.  I think I’ll try a barbecue or something more up beat next Labor Day.  🙂