Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Students participate in ‘Steubenville’ event

On Monday, April 4, “Steubenville,” “a participatory theatrical event reflecting on rape culture in our communities” created by New Zealand artist Eleanor Bishop, was held in the Lawrence Hall ballroom at 9:15 p.m.

“When I first moved [to] the States and read about the events in Steubenville, I was so moved and baffled by what had happened there,” Bishop said. “What I really wanted to do was take this case, which had galvanized so much attention around the issue of sexual assault, look at what happened there, and look at ourselves as a community. This is just one case, but it happens everywhere.” 

The show lasted about fifty minutes and was split into three parts. Actress Molly Griggs guided the audience through material from the Steubenville case, including trial transcripts and text messages from the victim, referred to only as “Jane Doe,” and her attackers. Griggs also performed previously recorded interviews with members of the Point Park community. Audience members were reminded several times that they should feel free to step out for a breather if at any point the presented material became too upsetting.

The Steubenville rape scandal occurred in August of 2012, when several students from Steubenville High School, also known as Big Red, raped the unconscious Jane Doe at a football party. Her rapists took pictures and filmed the assault, all without her knowledge. Faculty members at Steubenville High School attempted to cover it up, rather than lose any of their star football players. 

The show began with Griggs and an audience member acting out a scene from the adventure-romance film “The Princess Bride,” followed by a display of text messages from the victim as she questioned her attackers about what had happened to her.

Griggs and several volunteers from the audience performed segments from the trial, where the accused were questioned about their involvement in the assault. Text messages from Jane Doe and her attackers were projected onto a screen behind Griggs. The audience could see the boys discussing and joking about the events amongst themselves, and then panicking, promising to deny everything and lie for each other.

For the community interview portion of “Steubenville,” Griggs and Bishop stood on opposite sides of the room wearing headphones, while interviews with Griggs and several Point Park students were shown on the projector screen. The video was silent and Griggs spoke in sync with the interviewees as they answered questions about sexual assault, catcalling, objectification, sexuality and sexual empowerment, safety, and feminism. The interviews addressed how these issues affect female, male and transgender people.

The audience was asked to text “Steubenville” to a number on the screen and send in any thoughts, feelings or comments about the material. Real-time responses from the audience were displayed anonymously on the projector several times throughout the event.

Afterwards, Jess Klein, the coordinator of gender programs and sexual violence prevention at Carnegie Mellon University, led the audience in an open discussion about the state of rape culture in America. Attendees shared their own stories and expressed how the “Steubenville” material affected them. 

“It’s not just about Steubenville and what happened there. It’s about the rape culture and victim blaming that played into the whole situation,” Klein said. “Eleanor [Bishop] wanted this to be educational from the very beginning. We wanted to have a dialogue about rape culture and sexual violence and masculinity and cat-calling, the culmination of things that are the reason this happened in Steubenville.”

Bishop believes the theatrical performance is a way for people to begin to understand the events that happened in Steubenville.

“The piece is asking the people who come to it to understand what happened in Steubenville, and ask themselves how they might play a part in rape culture, generally, in their community and in society,” Bishop said.

Information about “Steubenville” is available on wearesteubenville.com.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Point Park Globe Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *