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Coming up on Connections: Tuesday, April 23, 2024

photo provided
Bivona Child Advocacy Center

First hour: Understanding the warning signs of abuse when children are most vulnerable

Second hour: "Newtown," and the 2024/2025 season at Geva Theatre

This conversation will explore difficult subjects that may not be appropriate for some listeners.
Retired New York State Police Investigator Sayeh Rivazfar says she’s a “fighter” when she shares the horrific story of her childhood. At the age of eight, Rivazfar was abused, raped, and attacked with a knife by her mother’s boyfriend. That man also killed her then six-year-old sister when Rivazfar was just steps away. "There will be times in your life that it feels like you can't get above it," Rivazfar has told students. "But I'm telling you, I surrounded myself with positive people and positive things and I fought. I kept fighting to push through and move on. I'm telling you what, it has not failed me yet." Now a board member for Bivona Child Advocacy Center, Rivazfar works to prevent other children from experiencing abuse, while raising awareness of the issue among the public. She joins us this hour to share her story. We also talk with the CEO of Bivona about the latest with the organization’s work in the community. Our guests:

  • Sayeh Rivazfar, child abuse survivor, retired New York State Police investigator, and board member for Bivona Child Advocacy Center
  • Daniele Lyman-Torres, Ed.D. president and CEO of Bivona Child Advocacy Center

Then in our second hour, a new play on stage at Geva Theatre addresses gun violence in this country. In “Newtown,” playwright Dan O’Brien explores the impact of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School with a fictitious stage work based on real life events. In the play, he imagines the meeting that took place between the shooter’s father and the parents of one of the children murdered. “Newtown” leads in to the 2024/2025 season at Geva, which kicks off in September. This hour, we talk with O’Brien about “Newtown” and the team at Geva about what we can expect to see on stage starting this fall. Our guests:

  • Elizabeth Williamson, artistic director at Geva Theatre
  • Rachel DeGuzman, associate artistic director and director of connectivity at Geva Theatre
  • Dan O’Brien, playwright for “Newtown”
  • Ansley Jemison, cultural liaison for Ganondagan State Historic Site
  • DeLanna Studi, artist in residence at Geva Theatre
  • Nydia Padilla-Rodriguez, founder and artistic director for Borinquen Dance Theatre
  • Jayme Bermudez, dancer and choreographer for Borinquen Dance Theatre
Evan Dawson is the host of "Connections with Evan Dawson." He joined WXXI in January 2014 after working at 13WHAM-TV, where he served as morning news anchor. He was hired as a reporter for 13WHAM-TV in 2003 before being promoted to anchor in 2007.
Megan Mack is the executive producer of "Connections with Evan Dawson" and live/televised engagement programming.