Our StorySecret Survivors is an interview-based theater project by NYC-based theater company, Ping Chong & Company, featuring adult survivors of child sexual abuse telling their personal stories on stage.
Child sexual abuse is an epidemic that affects about 1 in 4 female-bodied people and 1 in 6 male-bodied people. However, due to social taboos, very few survivors share their stories publicly. Secret Survivors uses direct personal narrative to represent the diverse ways this violence occurs and grapple with the many reasons that most survivors remain silent. Ping Chong & Company is part of a new Ms. Foundation For Women initiative to build a movement toward ending child sexual abuse. We were honored to be the only arts organization selected for this grant initiative.
Secret Survivors was conceived for Ping Chong & Company by Amita Swadhin, an anti-violence activist and survivor. The original cast members are Gabriella Callender, RJ Maccani, Lucia Leandro Gimeno, Diana Sands, and Amita Swadhin, all telling their true stories of survival and healing. Secret Survivors is part of Ping Chong & Company's ongoing community-specific oral history theater project known as Undesirable Elements. Each Undesirable Elements production is made in a specific community, with local participants. The script is based on interviews with the participants who then share their stories in the final production. For more information about Undesirable Elements, check out: www.undesirableelements.org.
What We NeedSince 2010, Secret Survivors has been performed at museums, theater spaces, and conferences around the US to overwhelming response. Not every community group can afford to present a live presentation though. To expand the impact of the theater production, we are creating a documentary and toolkit to accompany the live presentation so that we can reach thousands of individuals around the country.
The documentary will include footage from the live performance, additional testimonies from survivors reflecting a broad range of experiences, and experts speaking about the movement to end child sexual abuse. A written toolkit accompanies the documentary, offering additional resources. Direct project costs of filming the documentary and creating the toolkit will cost more than $100,000. We have additional grants pending, but we are trying to raise at least $20,000 through this campaign to serve as matching funds to complete this project.
Ping Chong & Company is a 501(c)3 organization. Donations are tax deductible, less the value of any perks associated with the donation.
The ImpactHere is what audiences have said about Secret Survivors:
Thank you for sharing your lives. You may never know the level of inspiration and hope you give to survivors who hear your story.
I really loved this piece. I was surprised, encouraged by the multitude of perspectives. Loved the music. I feel that I understand so much more. The world feels so much more complex and whole. Really, really loved it.
I would encourage anyone to see thisthis show debunks a lot of the myths that surround those that have been abused. I hope it reaches as many audiences as possible.
Our TeamAmita Swadhin (Secret Survivors Project Coordinator / Cast Member) is an educator, storyteller and anti-violence activist. Her approach to this work stems from her experiences as a queer woman of color, daughter of immigrants, and survivor of child abuse. She is the Project Coordinator of Secret Survivors, the People of Color Media Fellow at GLAAD, and recently received her Masters in Public Administration at NYU, where she was a 2008 Catherine B. Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship.
Sara Zatz (Secret Survivors Writer/Director, Associate Director, Ping Chong & Company) has worked with Ping Chong & Company since 2002. As project director of the oral history based Undesirable Elements series, she collaborates with theaters, universities, and local community-based organizations around the US to create projects addressing issues of identity in different communities. She has managed and co-written over a dozen Undesirable Elements productions, exploring themes such as the experiences of people with disabilities, immigrants and refugees, and disenfranchised youth.
Whistle Films - Founded by Melanie Vi Levy (MFA Documentary Film & Video, Stanford University), Whistle Films specializes in independent, story-driven documentary work featuring artists, performers, activists and unlikely heroes. Its goal is to give voice to untold stories that challenge stereotypes, push the boundaries of expression, and explore the intersection between social progress, activism, and the arts. Films include "My Name is Sydney" (Student Academy Award Nominee, IFC, Doxita Series), "A Different Color Blue" (POV, Best Student Documentary, Palm Springs Shorts Fest), and "The Secret Life of Beards" (Gala Opening Night Film World Shorts Film Festival, Toronto). Clients include AIDS Walk NY & SF, Cooper Union, Ping Chong & Company, as well as feature-length documentary projects funded by the Sundance Institute, the California Council for the Humanities, and The Ford Foundation among others.
Ping Chong & Company (Producer, Secret Survivors) was founded in 1975 by leading theatrical innovator Ping Chong with a mission to create works of theater and art that explore the intersections of race, culture, history, art, media and technology in the modern world. Today, Ping Chong & Company produces original works by a close-knit ensemble of affiliated artists, under the artistic leadership by Ping Chong. Productions range from intimate oral history projects to grand scale cinematic multidisciplinary productions featuring puppets, performers, and full music and projection scores. The art reveals beauty, precision, and a commitment to social justice.