Where journalism and theater meet to serve the information needs of immigrant women at risk of abuse
The Women Against Violence Experiment (W.A.V.E.) is the product of a yearlong investigation about information gaps in the New York’s Latina immigrant community by Brazilian journalist Isadora Varejão. She found that women have little or no knowledge about the different forms of abuse to which they are vulnerable (by a partner, a boss, a landlord) or the available resources to protect them against abuse, such as free services and U.S. legislation.
Since its inception in 2019, W.A.V.E. has developed two projects: a chatbot and a forum play. The chatbot "Chicabot" gives information about the U.S. legislation and resources available for immigrant women in abusive relationships.
The prototype was developed by Varejão as part of her capstone project at the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. It was launched in October 2019 and sunsetted in March 2020. The forum play "What If It Happened To You?" (from the Portuguese "E Se Fosse Com Você?") follows the Theater of the Oppressed methodology, in which the audience is invited to join actors onstage to try to change the outcome of the scenes. The group did three performances in NYC and Newark, NJ between December 6 and March 16, when the WHO declared the pandemic.
W.A.V.E. is currently applying for grants to resume its theater activities.
"E Se Fosse Com Você?" (What if it happened to you) is a short forum play that portrays a Brazilian immigrant in an abusive relationship. The play was developed in collaboration with ten members of the Brazilian community following the Theater of the Oppressed methodology. Scenes and dialogs were created during improvisation exercises and theater games led by Isadora Varejão and theater director Becca Kenisgberg. The play debuted on December 6, 2019, at the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY as part of Varejão's capstone project. Sixty people attended. The play was performed in Portuguese, but the facilitation was made in both Portuguese and English.
We did three performances between Dec. 2019 and Feb. 2020 that gathered more than 120 people.
Isadora Varejão, founder and joker (facilitator) was honored with the 2020 Women With Garra Award, by grassroots nonprofit Garra BR.
We are expecting to resume activities in late 2022 and early 2023. Join our mailing list to learn about upcoming events.
“As someone who has been in an abusive relationship, I felt welcomed and supported here. A play like this is important for any community, not just ours.”
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Women Against Violence Experiment 2022. New York City, USA.