Experts to discuss Women’s Empowerment plays following May 19th show

A panel that includes sexual abuse counselors, ministers, and an award-winning playwright, will gather after the May 19 Sunday matinée of the 2nd Act Players’ Women’s Empowerment Festival to discuss issues raised by the two one-act plays that are being performed in the festival.

“We always see our shows as starting discussions on key social issues and we strive to continue those discussions after the plays are over,” explains 2nd Act Players’ Cofounder John N. Frank. “Anyone coming to the May 19th show will get a major bonus in hearing these esteemed speakers discuss the issues raised by our plays.”

On the panel will be:

  • Rev. Jessica C. Gregory who has been Northminster Presbyterian’’s associate pastor since 2008. This is her first ministry call. Previous to church work, Jessica taught high school history and coached track and field on the Southwest side in Chicago Public Schools. She received her Master of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. Since 2011, she has served on the Presbytery of Chicago’s Commission on Ministry and is the Northern Region moderator. She is also a member of the Evanston Interfaith Religious Leaders Group.
  • Liv Harmening is an educator and advocate at the Northwest Center Against Sexual Assault CARE Center. The CARE Center is the rape crisis center serving McHenry county. As an educator, Liv can be found in Pre-K through college spaces leading discussions on sexual assault prevention and changing culture with students and staff. As an advocate, Liv assists clients with any step of their healing, from evidence collection through court cases.
  • Dr. Elizabeth Hopp-Peters serves as affiliate professor of Hebrew Bible at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston and McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. Her interests include feminist biblical interpretation, as well as metaphoric representation of God. An ordained teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church USA, Elizabeth received her MDiv from McCormick and her PhD in Biblical Studies from the University of Chicago Divinity School. Her dissertation, Breaking Pots, Making Metaphors: Symbolic Action in the Book of Jeremiah, examines literary technique and historical background in a series of 10 biblical narratives.
  • Jerome Jagielski is the author of Intentions,which follows main character Katherine on her road to recovery from a sexual assault, The script was named the winner of the 2nd Act Players’ 2019 One-Act Play Script Competition.
  • Annika Synnestvedt is a medical legal advocate with Northwest Center Against Sexual Assault (NWCASA) in the Evanston satellite office. In her legal advocacy role, Annika spends the majority of time supporting survivors throughout the criminal justice system from initial reports, to evidence collection, and thought the criminal court process. As a medical advocate, Annika can be found working with local hospitals ensuring victim-centered care in the medical system and offering emotional support to survivors along the way.

The 2nd Act Players’ 2019 Women’s Empowerment One-Act Play Festival May 11-26 features two stories about strong women overcoming trauma and stereotypes. To buy tickets, simply click here.

In addition to Intentions, festival-goers will see A Matter of Gender by Sloane Drayson-Knigge. A Matter of Gender is a humorous look at pre-conceptions about gender roles, including what some may consider the ultimate gender role. Its main character is a hotshot Broadway director desperate to cast the lead role in a new play about God. But he can’t seem to find the right actor, until one day…

Anyone interested in getting involved in helping sexual assault victims can visit or contact Liv at

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