In the summer and fall of 2015, SPARK produced This Is Not A Safe Space, an outside, site-specific, performed “soundwalk” written and performed by teenage girls, that raised awareness about the issue of rape culture in our community and offered strategies and hope for solutions to push back against it. We produced this soundwalk in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Fort Greene four times for an audience of approximately 100 audience members. We decided to present our performance outdoors, in public and allow the audience to walk through one neighborhood in Brooklyn because we wanted to use the community as our set design and show what it feels like to be a young woman walking through public spaces. We also wanted to attract “accidental” audience members who happened to stumble upon the performance. We gave every audience member a headset and much of the performance was pre-recorded and listened to on the headphones while the performers physicalized choreographed narratives related to the prerecorded text. This allowed the performers to physicalize the stories or use more poetic movement to enhance the stories being streamed through the headsets.
Additionally, we presented several scenes “on soapboxes,” where the performers spoke directly into the crowd and we attracted passersby who would not have experienced the show otherwise. For example, during one scene Emma spoke out about what we might want to express to teenagers who have survived sexual violence and also what we might want to say to potential offenders in order to prevent later violent actions. She screamed out from the sidewalk and at various performances, she attracted a crowd of people who listened and then joined in to the following activity where she invited everyone to chalk responses on the sidewalk. These chalked writings stayed on the busy sidewalk for days – until the next rain – and communicated the ideas beyond the live performance.
Each performance was followed by a lengthy discussions and workshops about using the arts to address – and end – rape culture and advocate for sexual consent.