YOU DON'T KNOW HOW IT FEELS By Kelley Blessing Debuts In TNC's Dream Up Fest 8/29-9/15
Who can you turn to when trust is betrayed? "You Don't Know How It Feels," a new play by Kelley Blessing, is an honest and daring look at a student who is sexually assaulted by her teacher, resulting in a traumatic case of emotional manipulation and dangerously spiraling depression. In an attempt to further the dialogue that will help end the stigma surrounding this crucial issue, the play fits aptly into the MeToo narrative, telling just of the many thousands of young girls' stories about sexual assault. Theater for the New City's Dream Up Festival will present the world premiere of the play August 29 to September 15.Middle-schooler Dena Williams and her friends love their gym teacher Mr. McCoe. To them, he is the coolest teacher at Jefferson Middle School because he always writes them hall passes and lets them hang out with him in the gym during and outside of the school day. He is also beloved by his colleagues and the school administration, regarded as the paragon among school faculty. In an unexpected and tragic suicide, Dena's sister Angela dies, and Mr. McCoe is an unwavering and trustworthy source of support for Dena. While Dena is coping with her loss, he listens to her and helps her bring up her grades and prepare for school basketball team tryouts. However, mentorship turns into control and abuse when Mr. McCoe starts to single Dena out, making her spend increasingly more time alone with him in the gym. He reveals himself to be a master manipulator, using his power so that her family, friends, teachers and school administration are not aware of the dark turn their relationship takes. This play is a forthright and heartbreaking exploration of a young woman's story and reminds us how important it is to pay attention, especially in cases where the victim's silence may be their only choice. This play contains sexual violence, assault and abuse. It is not suitable for children under the age of sixteen. Kelley Blessing (author) is a graduate of Drew University with a BA and MA in Theatre Arts and Theatrical Education. Blessing has staged managed and designed several shows in the NJ/NY area including "Miss Julie" (InterAct), "The Shadow Box" (Strollers), "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" (The Strollers), "What I Always Wanted to Do-The Musical" (Dark Night Productions) and "Cole" (The Strollers). Traci Timmons (director) has been a professional actor, singer, teacher, director, producer and administrator for many years. She is a graduate of the Northwest Actors Studio Conservatory Program where she later taught acting and served as Program Director. She has performed, directed and taught extensively throughout Westchester, New York City and Seattle. Timmons is currently on the board of the Runaway Theatre Company, the Talent Relations Director for The Family Repertory Company and a hall of fame member of Darknight Productions. She is a producer and co-host for Word of Mom Radio and teaches voice and piano for Forbes Music Company. She is also a certified health coach. Directing credits include "Last Few Steps" and "The Crucifixion" in addition to numerous children's theater productions. Timmons has dedicated her life to helping people, eliminating the stigma around abuse and empowering survivors. The actors are George Domenick, Kieran Duffy, Anastasia Gonzalez, Gabriel Morales and Jadalee Vega. Light and sound design are by Danielle Nicole Tyler, stage management is by Petra Seirmarco and stage crew is Yasmin Yarosh. The ninth annual Dream Up Festival (www.dreamupfestival.org) is being presented by Theater for the New City from August 26 to September 16. An ultimate new work festival, it is dedicated to the joy of discovering new authors and edgy, innovative performances. Audiences savor the excitement, awe, passion, challenge and intrigue of new plays from around the country and around the world. The festival does not seek out traditional scripts that are presented in a traditional way. It selects works that push new ideas to the forefront, challenge audience expectations and make us question our understanding of how art illuminates the world around us. In addition to traditional plays, a unique and varied selection of productions will again be offered, drawing upon a variety of performance genres including musicals, puppetry and movement theater. The Festival's founders, Crystal Field and Michael Scott-Price, feel this is especially needed in our present time of declining donations to the arts, grants not being awarded due to market conditions, and arts funding cuts on almost every level across the country and abroad.