New play focuses on teen dating violence

Past Event

City Youth Theatre Presents: "don't u luv me?"

  • Friday, February 19, 2010, 7 p.m.
  • Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St., Lawrence
  • 13+ / $5 - $8

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The Lawrence Arts Center will present the third installment to a series of plays focused on issues faced by today’s teens. “don’t u luv me?” features an all-youth cast, ranging in age from 13 to 18, and explores a violent romantic relationship.

Texas-based writer Linda Daugherty created “don’t u luv me?” at the request of a Dallas pediatrician who noticed an increase of teen girls describing abusive relationships. Daugherty describes the warning signs of a controlling or abusive relationship as jealousy, pressure on a partner to give up interests, friends and family, and monitoring of whereabouts, phone calls, text messages and e-mails. She hopes the play will spread awareness of these red flags.

“Those first uncomfortable signs should not be ignored or excused,” Daugherty says. “It’s a lot easier to get out at the beginning.”

In January, the U.S. Senate passed Resolution 373 to make February National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

Director Christine Dobson, arts outreach coordinator for the GaDuGi SafeCenter, hopes to start a communitywide conversation by filling seats with kids, parents, teachers and social workers. A group discussion will take place after each performance, allowing the audience to ask questions answered by the cast and staff members from GaDuGi SafeCenter and Women’s Transitional Care Services.

To the cast, Dobson is more than just a director — she is someone they can trust while discussing difficult topics.

“They choose the projects with the Lawrence Arts Center because they know we cover an issue,” Dobson says. “They know we’re going to explore something in a safe, professional way. We bring up some challenging things.”

“Teen dating violence is their issue, and they get it,” Dobson adds. “Kids have very valuable insights.”

Noah Nunn, 15, attends Southwest Junior High and will both act in the play and lead the group discussion following both performances. He hopes the audience will learn from the play and “understand how serious and common it is,” he says. Noah suggests teens seeking help to use national and local hotlines.

Daugherty’s trilogy began with “The Secret Life of Girls” about bullying and “EAT (It’s Not About Food)” regarding eating disorders. Daugherty uses theater to address the struggles of teens and the pressure to grow up faster.

“Theater has real-life people living out stories, making their journeys before our eyes,” Daugherty says. “I believe that seeing a live actor, with no special effects, telling a story can touch an audience, make us feel, experience, like no other medium can.”

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