January 27, 2011

Performance explores gender violence issues

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- It is performance art, but it also a door to opening dialogue.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale doctoral student Jennifer L. Freitag brings a solo performance to the Kleinau Theater Feb. 3-5. Performances begin at 8 p.m.

“I Want My Jacket Back,” which Freitag wrote as well as solo performs, explores issues such as gender violence, sexual politics, feminism and activism.

“I truly hope this performance will start new dialogue around issues of gender violence,” she said. “I hope my performance offers numerous entrance points for really thinking, talking and asking questions about gender violence.”

Freitag noted that gender violence and issues around it are not easy or light topics to discuss. Yet, she said her performance uses humor, music and nuance to broaden the approach to an uncomfortable theme.

As for tackling a solo performance, Freitag -- who is no stranger to the stage -- admitted it can be “incredibly intimidating.”

“Ultimately, I know the entire performance rests on my ability to perform well and to convey what I’m trying to convey through the piece,” she said.

And the preparation, she added, is time and energy consuming.

However, she chose to go solo for several reasons, and the learning experience was one reason. Freitag said her admiration for the solo efforts by performance specialists in the speech communication department provided the impetus for her own solo performance.

“I wanted to learn from them and work with them to develop my own skills in this method of performance,” she said. “Second, I wanted to create a performance I could use to start dialogue about gender violence in a variety of locations, and a one-person performance travels easily.”

Freitag also thanked fellow doctoral student Susannah Bunny LeBaron for her help with writing and staging the piece.

For more information about the show and Freitag’s research, visit www.iwantmyjacketback.com.

Freitag hails from Mediapolis, Iowa. Before coming to SIUC, she was coordinator of The Lighthouse Violence Prevention and Intervention Center at Central Missouri State University.

Admission to Kleinau performances is $7 for the general public, $5 for students. Tickets are available beginning an hour before each performance. Reserve tickets ahead by calling 618/453-5618.