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Exclusive DanceEast footage of domestic abuse play ‘Survivors’ Voices’ by Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds

PUBLISHED: 13:25 11 October 2017 | UPDATED: 13:40 11 October 2017

A DanceEast dress rehearsal for a stage performance inspired by the true stories of Suffolk domestic abuse survivors. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A DanceEast dress rehearsal for a stage performance inspired by the true stories of Suffolk domestic abuse survivors. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Domestic abuse victims in Suffolk have gained “therapeutic” benefits from a stage production based on their real-life stories. Watch one of the powerful scenes here.

DanceEast will today host an outreach workshop for police, social services, voluntary workers, lawyers, and others involved in domestic abuse.

It will include two performances of Survivors’ Voices, a play based on the stories of domestic abuse victims. The project was initially a creative writing project between Bury St Edmunds Women’s Refuge and Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds. The first resultant play, Refuge, was performed to an invited audience last year.

The project has now expanded, supported by the Suffolk Community Foundation, and it is hoped today’s outreach event will help all sectors tackle the issue.

Danusia Iwaszko, artistic associate (playwright) at Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, said she was shocked by the victims’ stories.

A DanceEast dress rehearsal for a stage performance inspired by the true stories of Suffolk domestic abuse survivors. Picture: GREGG BROWN A DanceEast dress rehearsal for a stage performance inspired by the true stories of Suffolk domestic abuse survivors. Picture: GREGG BROWN

She said: “They trusted me and built a relationship. We wrote prose about what happened to them and thought, is there a chance of putting their stories into a theatrical setting?

“The effect was therapeutic. That was our real worry. Would going over and over the very tragic stories be therapeutic or upsetting? But the stories have become objective rather than subjective. It’s been therapeutic to look at the stories and change bits.

“The women were watching the audience’s reaction (last year). The audience were very moved, and they realised how hard the times were for themselves. Sometimes they cope by thinking it’s not so bad, I’ll keep going.

Around 13 reports of domestic abuse in Suffolk are reported every day, the latest figures show.

A DanceEast dress rehearsal for a stage performance inspired by the true stories of Suffolk domestic abuse survivors. Picture: GREGG BROWN A DanceEast dress rehearsal for a stage performance inspired by the true stories of Suffolk domestic abuse survivors. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Annie Munson, chief executive of the Bury St Edmunds’ Women’s Aid refuge centre, said: “We help more people because more people know where to get the help. They Google the help they need.

“Many years ago, you thought this was something we had to put up with. Now we know there is an alternative, and all the different kinds of abuse, such as psychological control.”

Brendan Keaney, artistic director at DanceEast, said it was an “honour” to help tackle the “taboo” subject. Tim Holder, development director at Suffolk Community Foundation, said: “It has so many benefits; public understanding, partners coming together, and these women getting their stories off their chest.”

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