by Nancy Genova
The Death of Dream is a play about domestic violence that is slightly different from other artistic pieces that have been developed on the subject. In the play, codependency is acted out so the audience can enter into the victims and perpetrators space and begin to process what goes on in their world.
Initially I wrote The Death of A Dream because I needed to. This piece was tugging at me. I work in health care and have a graduate degree in Public Administration, but I have an undergrad degree in fine arts, as well. I am a survivor of domestic violence. Now its as if all my worlds; private, personal, professional and artistic are converging.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and thats when the play will premiere in New York. The story centers around three women from different lifestyles and professions who become victims of different forms of violence at the hands of different men. The play looks at the underlying layers that create victims and perpetrators, and examines how victims justify their perpetrators actions, as well as the lives of men who grow up to victimize women. I wanted to show how individuals who have been victims of childhood trauma repeat familiar patterns of behavior throughout their lives.
Domestic violence is gendered and it is running rampant in our society. One third of female homicides in the United States were the result of intimate partner violence. New York City police responded to 234,988 domestic violence incidents in 2008 an average of 600 a day, according to the NYC Mayors Office to Combat Domestic Violence. There were 70 family related homicides in New York City in 2008.
The impact of domestic violence is very powerful because it doesnt just involve the victim and perpetrator, but it has a domino effect on employers, schools, family and friends. Employers in the U.S. suffer billions of dollars in productivity loss from people unable to work after an incident. Children are acting out in schools and in public because of what they witness in their homes. Children who grow up in homes filled with domestic violence end up repeating the same patterns of behavior.
The whole process of writing the play and seeing it to production has been a little overwhelming, and I have to admit that I am extremely anxious. After I wrote The Death of A Dream, I sent for a copyright and didnt let anybody read it. It just seemed too intimate. But I had studied with a top playwright, Ralph Arzoomanian, many years ago, and one day I made a decision to send it to the school that had led me to him. A Tony award winning playwright was given the play and he read it and arranged for a non-professional reading. I got feedback from writers and producers. I then began to inquire around to see if others in the profession might look at it. I mentioned this to a colleague who practices complementary medicine, and she said very humbly — that her husband is a director. He turned out to be Frank Perez, an Obie award-winning director, and he said he would be interested in directing it. Soon, three amazing Latina actresses wanted to do it.
Although I am nervous, there is something propelling the process. But Ive also had to step out with the recognition that this not about me. I am just the portal.
I am hoping the play will help people understand that we have to help the victim because violence is never acceptable but that we have to do intervention on the perpetrators, as well. If not, we are going around the same circle without a beginning or end. No one benefits. We have to do better as a people, as a community and as a nation to address domestic violence relationships and the horrific aftermaths and worst possible endings that inundate the media every day.
September 23, 2009
Nancy Genova is Program Director of The Bronx Community Action for Prenatal Care Initiative (CAPC) and the Program Coordinator of Family Centered Care at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, for the Department of OB/GYN, Womens HIV Services. She is a board member of the 100 Hispanic Women and was recent recipient of the Manager of Year June 2009 award from the Association of Hispanic Healthcare Executives. Her play, The Death of A Dream, performs October 23-November 8 at the Roy Arias Theatre, W. 43rd St. and 8th Ave. in New York City.