Kim Waller, a member of Deana’s Educational Theater, performed a one-woman play entitled “The Yellow Dress” to the freshman, sophomore and junior classes at Walpole High School. Deana’s Educational Theater group was originally created by the family of Deana Brisbois, a young woman who lost her life in 1994 due to an abusive relationship. Currently, the theater troupe has 12 different plays promoting awareness for both domestic violence and bullying.
“I actually saw ‘The Yellow Dress’ when I was in high school, and I happened to be working with a gentleman who had just started as the artistic director at the time,” Waller said. “He kind of pulled me in because they happened to have openings in the company, but it wasn’t until I was in the room that I realized it was for the company that did ‘The Yellow Dress’.”
“The Yellow Dress” followed three distinct parts, each characterized by different colored dresses. In the first scene, Kim introduced herself in a blue dress as Anna, a high school student whose senior prom is the following day. She revealed that her boyfriend of three years, Ricky, just broke up with her. Anna discussed the beginning of their relationship, when Ricky was sweet and romantic and appeared to be the perfect boyfriend.
The blue dress in the first scene of the play symbolized the beginning of Anna and Ricky's relationship before signs of abuse appeared.
In the second part, Anna wore a red dress, which she planned to wear for her prom. She began to reveal some warning signs in her relationship, such as Ricky’s insults, violence and controlling behavior. Towards the end of the scene, Anna revealed that Ricky pressured her into having sex. After her friends and family discovered Ricky’s abusive actions, Anna was forced to isolate them from her life, only spending her time with Ricky.
The second dress, which Anna planned to wear to prom, represented the second stage in Anna and Ricky's relationship, where Ricky displayed warning signs of domestic abuse.
In the third and final scene, Anna came out in a yellow dress (not pictured) splattered with blood. After Anna broke up with Ricky, he reacted negatively and threatened to kill himself. Convinced that he had changed, Anna agreed to meet with him. Ultimately, however, Ricky took Anna’s life, exemplifying the fate that abusive relationships often face.
After the show, Waller discussed with the audience the different warning signs shown throughout the play and what to do if one is in a situation similar to Anna’s. The discussion was both an educational and engaging way to inform students on how to identify an unhealthy relationship.
"How many of you would like to receive a new cellphone from somebody?" Waller asked the audience after the show. In the play, Ricky bought Anna an expensive cellphone to track her whereabouts and stay in constant communication with her.
“I think confidence is the most important thing I hope people took away from this performance. It’s so difficult, especially if you feel like you’re the only one and you don’t have as much power or as much of a say,” Waller said. “If you’re able to just take a couple things away from this and can recognize that these things aren’t healthy, then you can have the ability to develop that into a conversation with a person who’s in that situation and actually feel like you’re helping in some way.”
Jen Bolton, Senior Manager of Prevention and Education for Domestic Violence Ended (DOVE), invites students to join their in-school training session in Feb. 2018 to represent DOVE’S YouthSpeak program. If interested, please sign up here by Mon., Dec. 18, and for more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.