Back to All Events

They Call Me Arethusa


About the Show

How do you know if you know a woman who's survived abuse? The answer is: You do. 

Arethusa Speaks, a theatre company with a social justice mission focusing on survivors of intimate partner violence, makes their New York City debut with their solo performance piece They Call Me Arethusa, after critically acclaimed runs in the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC and the FringeArts Festival in Philadelphia, PA. This spokenwordstyle docudrama exposes the devastation laid by intimate partner violence through the voices of modern women and their mythological sisters.

Developed by performer and writer Colie McClellan, the script is based on interviews that she conducted over several months with women who are survivors of intimate partner violence. McClellan weaves her own poetry in and out of these testimonials, incorporating Greek myth and Southern folklore based on stories from McClellan's home town in coastal South Carolina. With a series of minimal set pieces, props, lights, and sound, crafted by director and designer Mark Kennedy, each woman's voice is given shape, metaphor, and theatrical presence.

Arethusa Speaks's community programming complementing They Call Me Arethusa remains crucial to the success of their mission. Besides providing literature on local domestic violence shelters, as well as free ticketing for any staff or guests of these organizations, McClellan and Kennedy also led informal talk backs after each performance in the FringeArts Festival, and arranged for a talk back with a full panel of representatives from area leaders in the fight against intimate partner violence in both Charleston and Philadelphia. They plan to continuethis work with 15­20 minute talk backs with the artists held after each performance during their engagement at The Tank. 

Arethusa Speaks is actively in the process of reaching out to shelters, women's advocacy organizations, church groups, university residence life programs, and other organizations interested in engaging with the production and creating programming around it, either in NYC or elsewhere for future engagements. If any representatives from any relevant organizations have interest, please contact


“In such a small space, with only herself and the voices of survivors, and with so few elements of flash, McClellan manages to captivate, inform and subtly provoke the audience to consider. It’s a subject that could easily go astray, but McClellan’s got the right idea: take something painful, and express it truthfully and without conceit. The rest is up to the viewer.”
Philadelphia City Paper

“timely” and “emotionally effective”
Charleston Post and Courier


Colie McClellan (Writer/Performer/Co­Producer)
McClellan is a recent graduate of the MFA Acting program at Rutgers and an alumna of the College of Charleston, where she earned degrees in Classics and Theatre Arts. In NYC, she has worked with the League of Professional Theatre Women and the Women in the Arts & Media Coalition in women’s arts advocacy, and has performed with New Perspectives Theatre Company in their Women’s Work Short Play LAB, Stable Cable Lab, Co. in LIVE WIRE! and other readings, and with Group Theatre Too! in their production of Yankee Wives. She is represented in the southeast by Tout Talent Agency. After the critical success and personal fulfillment of They Call Me Arethusa in the Piccolo Spoleto Festival 2014 and the Philadelphia FringeArts Festival 2014, she is thrilled to finally be performing for all of her NYC friends who have asked her “When will it come to New York?” Outside of the theatre, acting, and activism, Colie enjoys spending time with her family in South Carolina. She also writes and manages a blog about women’s issues at

Mark Kennedy (Director/Designer/Co­Producer)
This marks Kennedy's New York City directorial debut. Kennedy spent four years in Philadelphia, arriving as an Arden Professional Apprentice for the 2009­2010 season, and continuing as a box officer, house manager, assistant director, and teaching artist. Kennedy also trained with Pig Iron Theatre Company and traveled to Poland, San Francisco, Miami, and IUP with Obie Award winning Chekhov Lizardbrain. Kennedy produced, directed, and co­wrote 2012 Philly Fringe hit Othello, Desdemona, and Iago Walk Into A Bar, and wrote, performed, and produced 2011 Philly Fringe curiosity Checkers. After spending a year fundraising for New York Theatre Workshop, Kennedy returned to directing with They Call Me Arethusa's Piccolo Spoleto production. He also currently serves as VIP Sales and Associate Staff Manager for irreverent, interactive, and renegade tour company Museum Hack, serving the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The American Museum of Natural History and the Brooklyn Museum.

Arethusa Speaks produces visceral original theatre works like They Call Me Arethusa and complementary community programming that raises awareness of the unseen prevalence of violence against women in the United States, especially dating and domestic violence.

Arethusa Speaks encourages those who are survivors of violence in healing and in finding their voices, and seeks to eliminate the social stigma that often comes with identifying as a victim or survivor of violence. Arethusa Speaks gives the communities it reaches tools to prevent violence, to seek justice for its survivors, and to navigate the aftermath with humanity. Visit for more information.


Earlier Event: January 23
Later Event: January 25
Birdbrain: A Work-in-Progress Showing