Story by: Alaina Segura

Barbara Nordin

Photo courtesy of Barbara Nordin

During the month of February, African American History Month, we, as a nation, celebrate the accomplishments of black men and women and reflect upon the continuing struggle for equal opportunity in our country.

At Iris, we decided to take a look at the history of these struggles in our local community by interviewing a journalist for The Hook, Barbara Nordin.

When Nordin was volunteering at the Cedars nursing home in 2013, she heard a story that piqued her curiosity, and she set out to learn more. Later that year, she published an article in which she tells the story of Charlottesville native Eugene Williams as he recounts his experience growing up during the 1930s.

Iris had the opportunity to interview Nordin and discuss this piece, as it remains relevant during African American History Month.


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Story by Kiana Williams

Katharine Hepburn

Photo from margaretperry.org
Katharine Hepburn, Hollywood icon, defined success on her own terms.

With the 87th Academy Awards ceremony coming up on Feb. 22, we mustn’t forget the woman who still holds the record for the most acting wins in history: Katharine Hepburn. Despite her lack of glamorization in comparison to her silver screen counterparts and almost being shunned by filmmakers for a series of box office flops, Hepburn was nominated for 12 Academy Awards for Best Actress and won four of them: Morning Glory (1933), Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968), and On Golden Pond (1981), spanning her acting career as one of longest and arguably most successful of all time.

Despite her widely known lack of conformity, Hepburn defined success on her own terms and as a result, the American Film Institute named her the Greatest Female Screen Legend in Hollywood history.

Here are some reasons why we at Iris think Katharine is so amazing:


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Lynda Allen

Photo courtesy of Lynda Allen
Lynda Allen is a mother of a U.Va. student and channeled her reactions to the November 2014 Rolling Stone article into her writing.

Story by: Michelle Cho

Last November, the Grounds of U.Va. shook with the horrors revealed in the Rolling Stone article “A Rape on Campus”. As our community – and even nation – reacted, the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center received a flood of comments and responses about what can and should be done to address sexual misconduct at our University.

One very unique response came in the form of an email from Lynda Allen, the mother of a U.Va. student. Allen felt compelled to share a piece of poetry written in the aftermath of the Rolling Stone controversy in the hopes that it would help others process the events disclosed in the article, as well as serve as a uniting force for those who felt rightfully angered by the injustices surrounding sexual assault.


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John Binkley

Photo courtesy of John Binkley
Binkley, playwright of The Presidential Suite, brings his powerful play to intimate setting of Para Coffee on The Corner, near the Grounds of the University of Virginia.

Story and images by: Sophia Socarras

Spectrum Theatre, an organization at U.Va. dedicated to engaging and challenging the community through provocative, socially relevant, universal, inspiring and innovative performances, recently presented the first installment of this semester’s “Breaking Grounds Reading Series.”

The Presidential Suite, by John Binkley, is a play inspired by the Strauss-Kahn court case in which a prominent French economist and politician raped his hotel maid. In the play, French economist Richard Chataigne and his wife Madame Chataigne use their wealth and status to pressure the rape survivor, Hermione St. Cloud, to refuse to testify. Chataigne’s lawyer, Jordan Pershing, helps their case by manipulating the media and ruining St. Cloud’s reputation. St. Cloud is faced with the choice between accepting their bribe and dropping her testimony, or fighting back to make Chataigne pay for his crimes.

The play is meant to start discussions about the abuse of power, sexual assault and exploitation. Binkley was inspired to write this piece after he first heard about the Strauss-Kahn case and later read an interview with Harvard law professor Alan Dershowtiz in which he defended the tactics used to try to discredit the complainant.


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Vagina Monologues Rehearsal

Photo by Sophia Socarras
During one of this year’s Vagina Monologues rehearsals, actors took part in a group bonding exercise.

Story and images by: Sophia Socarras

As the co-publicity chair for U.Va.’s Spectrum Theatre as well as my involvement in several other theater organizations over the years, I have been able to see the powerful impact theatrical performances can have on everyone involved.

Good theater creates a bond between the actors and the audience that lasts until the final moments of the performance. Great theater uses this bond to bring to light aspects of society, culture and human nature compelling both actors and audience members think about these issues.

Spectrum Theatre’s dedication to challenging and engaging the University and Charlottesville communities through provocative, socially relevant, universal, inspiring and innovative performances is what first drew me to becoming more involved in the organization.

As a part of this mission, Spectrum Theatre produces The Vagina Monologues every spring. The famous collection of interviews, published by Eve Ensler in 1996, covers topics such as sexual violence, rape as a tool of war, and the stigma surrounding vaginas.


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