Events, Uncategorized

UPDATE: This Far By Faith 2011

Please join master facilitators Cynthia C. Harris and Dia S. Hodnett at the annual conference of the Black Church and Domestic Violence Institute (BCDVI).

“Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray: Gender Based Violence, Stress-Related Health Complications and our Sacred Paths.”

February 18 – 20, 2011 in Atlanta, GA

“The 2011 Institute – “Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray:  Gender Based Violence, Stress-Related Health Complications and Our Sacred Paths”,  marks the thirteenth year of offering culturally specific training, stimulating dialogue and organizational development for faith based advocates and others concerned about the lack of response of faith communities.  “Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray” provides innovative, interactive training!   This annual institute is committed to an appropriate response to violence against women of faith within their denominations, congregations and wider community. In our second decade as a national educational ministry, BCDVI affirms survivors’ experiences,authentic voices and reality as an essential aspect of defining response strategies.”

Track IV: “Oh, Happy Day” – Arts-Based Violence Prevention Theatrical and Dialogue Tools
The workshop brings together two very important education and advocacy texts; “Girl We Need to Talk” and “Why Won’t She Leave?” for the first time. The creators and master facilitators, Dia S. Hodnett and Cynthia C. Harris offer instruction on the use of these theatrical and dialogue tools to highlight the importance of black women’s social and spiritual networks in the prevention of domestic violence (DV). Through this experiential learning process, participants will be able to use these tools to: increase awareness about DV services, introduce appropriate social support and safety planning techniques, and present age appropriate programming.

Visit BCDVI’s website for more information about the conference.

Events, Uncategorized

WWSL: National Black Arts Festival 2006


An excerpt from publicity materials:

 We are currently gearing up for our presentation of “Why Won’t She Leave?” at 7 Stages Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. The dramatic performance and post discussion will take place during the National Black Arts Festival, July 14th – 16th, 2006. “Why Won’t She Leave?” is an innovative fusion of monologue and dialogue that tells the riveting story of one woman’s experience in a turbulent relationship. The performance vividly details her initial search “outside herself for love” and finally for restoration. The work explores relationships between men and women and the tremendous power of our words to hurt and heal.

In addition to the performances, Healing Waters is hosting a creative workshop for teen girls on Saturday, July 15, 2006, focusing on dating violence. Your tax deductible donation will be used to help defray the costs associated with the production and sponsor a young woman’s participation in the workshop. 

Healing Waters Productions is fiscally sponsored by The Black Church and Domestic Violence Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. 


Wednesday, July 12th at 7pm – Artist Talk at Charis Books and More 
clockwise from top:
Cynthia and Rev. Aubra Love, Founding Executive Director of The Black Church and Domestic Violence Institute; Cynthia and Dia Hodnett; Charis audience






















Friday, July 14, 2006 at 7 Stages Theatre in Atlanta, GA

Members of the Black Church and Domestic Violence Institute leadership and Clergywomen’s Alliance l to r: Rev. Amanda Hendler Voss, Cynthia, Rev. Aubra Love, Founding Executive Director of BCDVI and Min Patsy White, Associate Director of BCDVI










Events, Uncategorized

A Mother’s Day Lunch & Civic Dialogue on Domestic Violence

In Celebration of National Women’s Health Week

A Special Mother’s Day Luncheon and Dramatic Performance, “Why Won’t She Leave?”
May 13, 2007

Presented by Healing Waters Productions
The Black Church and Domestic Violence Institute

Co-Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health Nd Human Services

Nashville, TN – Healing Waters Productions, an Atlanta-based educational theater collective, will present “Why Won’t She Leave?” an original work that explores the impact of domestic violence on victims and their families.  The May 13th performance will take place at 2:30 p.m. at the Musician’s Hall of Fame, located at 301 6th Avenue South.  This event is open to the public; and is recommended for mature audiences due to strong language and content.  Event organizers are particularly focused on introducing the work to local organizations that provide counseling and other services to women.

“I am a native Nashvillian, and I’m very proud to be here doing my life’s work.  In this symbolic homecoming, we are looking forward to partnering with local domestic violence and women’s health organizations and allies to build a network for training, education, and social change.”      – Cynthia C. Harris.

“Why Won’t She Leave?” (WWSL) has been presented to diverse audiences around the United States for more than two years.  The May 13 production is in collaboration with The Black Church and Domestic Violence Institute (BCDVI).

“We intend to engage communities, leaders, service providers and public servants with fresh conversations about domestic violence using the piece [WWSL] as an applied theatre educational tool.  BCDVI is an integral part of this process—through our partnership we are able to develop, organize and implement trainings that are sensitive and specific to the needs and goals of each audience.  One important lesson that we have learned through our organizational development is that successful collaborations are instrumental in creating appropriate and sustainable responses to violence against women.” – Cynthia C. Harris.

General admission tickets for this event are $20.  Student and Senior tickets are $15.  RSVP and advance ticket reservation are strongly encouraged.

About Healing Waters Productions

Healing Waters Productions is a collective of African heritage women sharing and theorizing about the very specific position of being socialized as women in the United States. As a production company offering arts-based education and training for social change, Healing Waters provides opportunities for women to notice, name, and voice their authentic experiences.  The mission of Healing Waters Productions is to merge public health theory and practice with the creative arts for the purpose of liberating the voices, bodies and spirits of all women.

About Cynthia C. Harris, Founding Playwright & Visionary

Ms. Harris is a Writer/ Performance Artist/ Dancer/ Activist/Health Educator/ and proud southerner.  Her work in the field of women’s reproductive health research has fed an appreciation for the analytical and provided her with the opportunity to study human behavior. These experiences and her artistic talents that range from creative writing to international dance, have combined to create an informed, vocal advocate for women’s health issues. Her first performance piece, “Phrases of Womanhood”, has been performed since 2002 in Tennessee and Georgia by the Phoenix Ensemble. Her performance piece, “Why Won’t She Leave?” has been presented nationally since its debut in 2005.

About The Black Church and Domestic Violence Institute

The Black Church and Domestic Violence Institute (BCDVI) founded by the Rev. Aubra Love, trains faith-based leaders in the appropriate response to domestic violence. Incorporated in 1998, The Institute supports a network of clergy, lay leaders and agencies committed to ending domestic violence among women of faith within the continental United States and Caribbean. Headquarters of the National Clergywomen’s Alliance, BCDVI provides organizational development to women’s ministry efforts that promotes communities organizing and local responses to domestic violence.

Contact: Dia S. Hodnett, Director of Training and Special Events, Healing Waters Productions and National Board member of The Black Church and Domestic Violence Institute.   Email:

Events, Uncategorized

Identity and Performance:A Conversation with Local University Students

Last week, I was invited by Professor Ifeoma Nwankwo of Vanderbilt University to speak to her students during her course, American Studies Workshop: Black Nashville.
“This class is part of a new innovative course series called “Music City Perspectives.” Through it, Vanderbilt students will learn from, about, and with the city’s diverse communities, while also honing their academic writing and research skills and contributing to the greater good.  The Fall 2009 course will focus on populations of African descent in the city, particularly African American, Caribbean, and African communities.”

Initially I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say.  I was invited to speak about my experience as a Black Nashvillian.  It is always an interesting exercise to talk about your experience with a particular identity group.  How do I explain being a Black, queer, working class, southern woman in her 30s?  I just am what I am, right?  What would be the best way to break down the culture and politics of those identity groups, but then reassemble them to give the full picture of the experience I am having, and how that experience informs all the work that i do?  How would I feel doing that with/for individuals who may not have a single piece of identity in common with me, yet if they did, would they experience it exactly the way that I do? 

I decided that rather than examine all these intersecting identities alone, then presenting some finished analysis, that I would walk the students through my process.  I wanted to invite them into this conversation that I was having with myself. (giggle) 

I came to class with a few ideas I had been working on, then put my theory on the board and asked for feedback.  We talked about pieces that could be missing from my analysis.  I thought it was important to acknowledge that as soon as we are born, the world responds to us, giving us information about who we are, and then how we are to respond to/with that information.  At our core is this authentic, essential being, but once our identities are layered onto us, we filter who we truly are through that matrix of identity.  The result is our performance.  But what happens if we want to alter that performance or find that it doesn’t fit?  Are we free to alter this performance? Aren’t there incentives to maintain a certain performance at all times.  Perhaps we are more predictable or easily controlled if we do. 

I’d love to return and have follow up conversations.  The course seems ripe with good news.  I’m looking forward to their final projects. 


In the Company of Women

On August 31st, I was delighted by the feeling of welcome when I entered our gathering space.  The room was already set up in a circle of chairs with participants smiling from their seats, offering warm hellos; a welcome contrast to the sight of armed guards and the sound of locking doors behind me. We jumped right into the workshop, which was a variation of the standard Healing Waters House Party.  The workshop was adjusted to accomodate the large groups of attendants, as a typical House Party has a maximum attendance of 15.  We took time in the beginning to breathe together and to bring our good energy and intention into the circle. 

In preparing our group to perform, we played a few important theater based warm up activities.   We  listened to easy Cuban sound of Omara Portuondo as we “Covered the Space.”  We let the music guide our bodies around the room, then after freezing in place we imagined a scene in our heads that the movement inspired. Next we moved “Across the Circle”, powerfully saying our names as we locked eyes with a person across the circle, then moved to take that persons space.  The activities connected easily to our conversation on maintaining a safe space for creative play, highlighting what would be and would not be welcome in our space. 

Soon it was time for reading.  The four main characters of  “Why Won’t She Leave?” were divided into three parts, giving us a total of 12 readers for the performance.  All the other workshop  participants were responsible for reciting the part of  The Chorus.  It was powerful to hear a room full of women reciting the lines…

“She is so pretty and so smart.  She can have any man she wants.  Why Won’t She Leave?”

The reading was awesome.  The actor/participants quickly found the rhythm of the piece and fell effortlessly  into character, ones they’d only been introduced to moments before.  We used a combination of large group processing and mini-sessions, so that  participants could discuss the feelings that came up however they were most comfortable.    We closed with a panel of experts from the group, modelling for the rest of us how we might provide social support for a woman in our life having a story similar to that of  the main character.  Participant feedback from the workshop is listed below.

 For more information about the event and participant feedback, click  here