Elizabeth Laidlaw says 'The Haven' will shed light on domestic violence and the marginalized women of Chicago
'The Haven' is set in a domestic violence shelter which is called The Haven and tells the stories of the staff of the shelter and the women who visit them as clients
Elizabeth Laidlaw is currently playing Officer Victoria 'Vic' Renna on the CBS drama 'The Red Line'. Based in Chicago, the show explores racism and injustice in American society through the wrongful shooting of an African American doctor by a Caucasian police officer. As Officer Vic, Laidlaw plays a tough, smart, loyal cop, who is with the officer on the night of the shooting and reacts, rather illegally, to protect him.
At the same time, the actress is associated with another show which has a social issue for its premise. Laidlaw holds the title of co-producer in the Chicago-based web series titled 'The Haven'. The dramedy is set to premiere on OpenTV on May 8, 2019.
'The Haven' is a story set in a domestic violence shelter house and follows both the staff and the shelter's clients. The under-paid staff of a domestic violence shelter, which is called The Haven, struggles with the messiness of their own personal lives at the same time trying to help their clients set off on abuse-free futures. A houseful of traumatized and temporarily homeless women — each with their share of emotional baggage — means nearly constant chaos, even on the best days. You can watch the trailer here:
Six years in the making with producing partner and award-winning Chicago playwright Mia McCullough, 'The Haven' was inspired by McCullough's many years supporting her writing habit as a crisis line worker at domestic violence shelter in the Chicago area. "I think it’s safe to call 'The Haven' a dramedy. Domestic Violence is a deadly serious subject, but the culture of a shelter is an ecosystem with its own zaniness as people try to navigate their lives within it," Laidlaw tells MEA WorldWide (MEAWW).
The residents of The Haven are in transition. Once accepted into the shelter, they have 90 days to get their bearings and launch themselves on what will hopefully be a new and abuse-free trajectory. Most of the women can't make it beyond two weeks either. A plethora of hindrances such as alcohol and drug addiction, mental illness, physical ailments, poverty, immigration problems, and PTSD makes creating a new life an uphill battle. The staff is often similarly troubled. Many of the social workers have been drawn to domestic violence because of their family and/or personal history with the issue. The staff is comprised of women from a variety of ethnic backgrounds which echoes that of the clientele. They are also poorly paid, which means many of them are financially not much better off than their clients.
The show was created around domestic violence to "entertain and raise awareness about domestic violence." At the same time, McCullough and Laidlaw wanted to employ Chicago artistes, predominantly women and people of color in front of and behind the camera, but most importantly, to "be a part of the movement to produce quality television in Chicago."
"A domestic violence shelter is a great place to tell the stories of marginalized people, as it's sadly still such an under-discussed issue, affecting all walks of life, but particularly those who don't have the resources of privilege. That said, there are ways we try to make privilege collide with the lack thereof, play with that tension," explains Laidlaw.
Representation was one of the main reasons behind creating 'The Haven', Laidlaw tells MEAWW. "We really wanted to create something that was shot and cast in Chicago — showcasing the city and its huge talent pool of women, femme and trans people, and people of color, both behind and in front of the camera."
The show premieres on Open TV on May 8, 2019. Open TV and is a conscious choice, says Laidlaw. "[Open TV] is a platform that focuses on featuring the work of women, femme, LGBTQ folks, and people of color, voices that tend to have less opportunity to be heard, particularly in independent filmmaking and content creation."
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