Alright, we know we’re a little late with the review of 2013, but we’ve already been busy with shows already in 2014 and we don’t want to miss this window! So, here’s a quick look back on what we were able to accomplish in 2013, and a taste of what we’re looking forward to in 2014.
2013 started with a bang, and we kicked off the year with a performance at Cornell University for their incoming transfer and exchange students. In February, we partnered with Gentle Hex Collective, the Portland Flea-for-all, and two Boston-area bands to throw LOVE LIKE WHOA, a part of Vday’s global One Billion Rising project, and a fundraiser for Speak About It. We danced through the night (ok, until 9pm) and were able to raise some money for the organization. In April, we held our annual performance for Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) at Portland’s Planned Parenthood, and delivered a great show to a packed house. Also as part of SAAPM, Shana was asked to write an op ed for the Bangor Daily News and the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault as part of their ongoing conversation about sexual assault in Maine. Former Speak About It actor and MECASA Communications and Outreach Coordinator Cara Courchesne would go on to receive international accolades (End Violence Against Women International Media Excellence Award) for her collaborative work with media and sexual assault prevention agencies from across the state.
Shana and Dave also started scouting for a second full-time cast in April, and after seeing over 200 auditions and over two dozen Skype interviews, were able to land ten amazing actors and educators for the fall tour.
In June, the crew packed up the set and hopped a plane to Washington, DC to perform our first Speak About It show for a high school audience at the National Cathedral School. We changed some of the language but kept the majority of the script the same, and we were met with overwhelmingly positive feedback. We had a chance to meet with administrators from other area high schools, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
June and July also saw six different performances at Eastern Connecticut State University as part of their summer orientation, and the crew was able to have some solid team-bonding (and sing-alongs) in the minivan. Shana gave a presentation at the Girls’ Leadership Institute about consent, language, sexuality and identity, and even got to talk about pizza.
Dave and the actors all convened in Portland, ME in early August for two weeks of intensive rehearsals, sexual assault prevention trainings, and ropes courses to prepare for the fall tour. The two casts, Cast Bubble Butts and Cast Honey Badger, enjoyed two weeks in the Maine sun, complete with adventures around the city and a lobster bake (thanks to one of our donors for funding that!). After a send-off performance at the Lyric Music Theatre in South Portland, the casts were off for the tour, and in ten days on the road, were able to visit thousands of students at Cornell University, Harvard University, Brown University, Trinity College, Williams College, Haverford College, Colby College, Hamilton College, Rhode Island School of Art and Design, and Massachusetts College of Art and Design. The shows continued in September and October at Maine College of Art, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, and with another trip to the DC area to visit two high schools, the Sandy Spring Friends School and Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School.
And throughout all of this, Shana was working with our amazing Board of Directors and outstanding legal team to file an application with the IRS to become a nonprofit 501c3 organization. In October, after almost a year of working, writing, editing, and meeting, the IRS approved our request and we officially became the 501c3 Speak About It, Inc. Shana was a little nervous to transition her title to Executive Director, but we think it’s a good color on her. With that, we were able to launch our fundraising campaign through Rally.org and are so thankful for the generosity that we’ve seen from supporters.
When we finally took a moment to reflect on 2013 (and do some math), we were able to have a direct dialogue with over 15,000 high school and college students from DC to Waterville, ME to Clinton, NY and all in between. We like to think that we’ve been able to spark conversations with exponentially more people, encouraging them to get consent and be active bystanders.
We’re only a couple weeks into 2014 and already we’ve been able to hit the ground running. We were able to hire our first-ever intern (for whom, strangely enough, Shana makes the coffee), and are looking to bring in guest bloggers and educators to develop new programming. We were a part of January Orientation at Brandeis University and Cornell University, and are looking forward to being part of Consent Fest at Bowdoin College and helping orient all of the new Greek pledges at Cornell in February. We’ll be back in DC in a few weeks for more performances with high school students, and Shana’s in the process of developing programming about healthy sexuality as primary prevention. There’s chatter of bringing in a third cast for this fall, as we’re already sending out contracts with new and returning schools for fall orientation. We’ve got our first-ever Board Retreat coming up in February, and we’re looking forward to getting our Directors together from across the country.
We have high hopes for 2014, and we’re excited for you to undertake this journey with us. We want to spark conversations with over 20,000 high school and college students, visit new schools and continue dialogue at familiar ones. And, we would love your help doing it. We’re always looking for new stories to include in the performance, stories about sex or sexual assault, about making out or making love, about your first time or about waiting for the right person. Of, if you’d like to support us in other ways, funds raised from our Rally.org page will help us perform at more schools by providing scholarships and hiring additional actors.
2013 was a year of exponential growth for us, and with your help, we’re looking forward to making 2014 bigger, louder, and consent-ier. And, just to keep things exciting, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram.