Persephone Bound creates a voice for surviving sexual assault

Featuring aerial circus theatrics and a post-performance panel discussion hosted by Women's and Gender Studies.

Nicole Cotterill - 26 August 2019

Persephone Bound creates a safe place to express a heartfelt story of a young woman's courage and pain as she navigates the complexities of speaking out about surviving sexual assault. This incredible show features breathtaking movement using an aerial apparatus that aligns with the spoken words of the script.

Over the past five years, both Léda Davies and Jed Tomilson have been working steadily to produce the performance Persephone Bound. It is based on the Greek myth of Persephone, reformulated into a modern-day context and used as a platform to discuss sexual consent. The theatre production Persephone Bound allowed them to start the conversation of sexual consent and create a performance that focuses on the challenges people face when deciding to come forward about sexual assault.

Inspired by the Martha Wainwright song, Proserpina, Léda started to read more versions of the Greek myth of Persephone. All the different versions shared the theme that Persephone was taken without her consent. Persephone Bound became more real to Léda when she started to feel parallels with current conversations about sexual consent, and how it aligned with the Greek myth of Persephone.

Léda Davies stated, "I wanted to create a show that would create a conversation around sexual consent, and allow me to use my skills as a theatre artist as well as a circus artist. It was always my intention to produce these shows in universities to get a dialogue going about what is sexual consent. I would hope that if there are survivors of sexual assault in the audience who haven't come forward, that they at least feel like they deserve to be heard and that they are not alone."

After receiving her undergraduate degree from the University of Calgary, Léda is currently in her second year of her MFA, having selected the U of A Drama program because of its reputation and high expectation of excellence. Léda's main criteria for an MFA program was that she wanted to explore pedagogy movement and interdisciplinary work, and she saw the University of Alberta as one of very few schools in Canada offering this type of educational opportunity. After completing her undergraduate degree, Leda spoke warmly, saying "The friends and connections I made during my undergrad are still the main core group of friends and connections I now rely on as a professional."

A panel discussion will follow the performance, with Jackie Foord from the City of Edmonton, Lise Gotell, Faculty of Arts professor from Women's and Gender Studies, and Paige Cahill, volunteer program coordinator & crisis support worker from the Sexual Assault Centre, as well as Léda Davies. The panel will discuss what resources are available for students regarding sexual consent and the surrounding support systems. In addition to questions posed by the moderator, they will also take audience questions.

"Because the play deals with a young woman's efforts to seek justice in the aftermath of a campus sexual assault, the panel will try to place the issues raised in a broader context," said Lise Gotell. "Sexual assault against young women on postsecondary campuses is a pervasive problem. Unfortunately, both university and criminal justice mechanisms too often fail to meet survivors' justice needs."

Persephone Bound

September 5, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Timms Centre for the Arts
Admission is free, but seating is limited. Reserve your seat online.

Arts Alumni - Exclusive Pre-performance Event
Exclusive to Arts alumni, there is a pre-performance lecture and dessert reception, where guests can hear from Dr. Adam Kemezis, Department of History and Classics, as he provides some background information into the myth of Persephone that helps contextualize this contemporary adaptation of the Greek myth.
Thursday September 5, 2019, 6-7 p.m.
Telus Centre, University of Alberta
11104 87 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB
Cost: $10/person
Purchase tickets to the Alumni Event online