Sexual assault is on the upswing. Just yesterday a man raped a 19-year-old woman as she was leaving the 96th Street station on the Upper East Side. He had followed her out of a Manhattan subway station. It happened around 7:30 Sunday night. Rape touches just about every one of us. More women are sexually assaulted in this country than are affected by heart disease and breast cancer combined. To say it is an epidemic, is not hyperbole.
Now When It Happens to You, a theatrical memoir by New York Times best-selling author Tawni O’Dell (Back Roads, Angels Burning), brings that subject to the forefront. This story is told by a mother who had to come to grips with this subject when her daughter was assaulted.
It doesn’t fade over time. It metastasizes. A sexual assault can last a matter of minutes, but the subsequent disintegration can last a lifetime. This is true for the victim and the family surrounding her. A mother. A brother. Even a pet. Based on her personal experience, Tawni O’Dell’s theatrical memoir, When It Happens to You, is about a mother’s struggle to help restore a sense of safety and wholeness to her family after her daughter was the victim of a brutal attack. It’s a journey that continues to this day, nearly five years since she received that middle of the night phone call every parent dreads. “The first time I held my daughter after she was born I made a silent promise to her I would always protect her,” says Tawni O’Dell. “Then came a night in our future when that promise was shattered. I couldn’t protect her from the man who stalked her through the streets of her beloved New York City, broke into her home, and assaulted her,” says Tawni O’Dell. “During the next few years, her life fell apart and so did my own as I tried to help her deal with the fallout from this awful crime.As a way to help make sense of what we were going through, I did what writers do: I wrote about it. I didn’t know if I would ever share our story with the world, but I’m proud to say my daughter has decided that we should in the hopes that we might be able to help other victims and their families.
In When It Happens to You, O’Dell is joined on stage by actors E. Clayton Cornelious, Connor Lawrence, and Kelly Swint.When It Happens to You features scenic design by Rob Bissinger and Anita LaScala, lighting design by Daisey Long, costume design by David Woolard. Associate Producers of When It Happens to You are Joseph Parone, Sandra Maxwell Brooks and Kimberly JaJuan.
Tawni O’Dell is the New York Times bestselling author of six novels including Back Roads which was an Oprah Winfrey Book Club selection and was recently made into a film with a screenplay adapted by Tawni. She also wrote and co-produced the popular audio drama, Rewrites. Her novels have been published in over 40 countries. Tawni grew up in western Pennsylvania and is a graduate of Northwestern University.
The world-premiere production is directed and co-conceived by two-time Tony-nominee Lynne Taylor-Corbett. The official opening is Sunday, October 13 at 7:30PM.
When It Happens to You plays a seven-week limited engagement, October 2 – November 10 off-Broadway at The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture (18 Bleecker Street at the corner of Elizabeth Street, NYC) in the Loreto Theater. The official opening is Sunday, October 13 at 7:30PM. The regular performance schedule: Tuesday and Sunday at 7PM; Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 8PM; with matinees at 2PM and Sunday at 3PM. There is a special 3PM matinee on Wednesday October 30, and no evening performance on October 31. Tickets are $49.50 – 79.50 for performances thereafter. Premium tickets are available. Tickets are now available online at www.sheencenter.org/shows/happens, by phone at 212-925-2812, or in-person at The Sheen Center box office.