Johanna's Story: Cleveland domestic violence story goes on stage - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Johanna's Story: Cleveland domestic violence story goes on stage

"Johanna: Facing Forward" is playing at the Gordon Square Theatre. (Source: WOIO) "Johanna: Facing Forward" is playing at the Gordon Square Theatre. (Source: WOIO)
The play tells the story of an extreme domestic violence case in Cleveland. (Source: Cleveland Public Theatre) The play tells the story of an extreme domestic violence case in Cleveland. (Source: Cleveland Public Theatre)
Although some parts can be tough to watch, the message is uplifting. (Source: Cleveland Public Theatre) Although some parts can be tough to watch, the message is uplifting. (Source: Cleveland Public Theatre)
Johanna Orozco and actress Tania Benites. (Source: Johanna Orozco) Johanna Orozco and actress Tania Benites. (Source: Johanna Orozco)
It was perhaps the darkest, most violent case of teen domestic violence in Cleveland. In 2007, a young woman was stalked and shot in the face by her ex-boyfriend. She survived and years later, her amazing story is now on stage.
 
Johanna Orozco-Fraser was there for the Friday night premiere of the show that chronicles her life and struggles. In her words, the show is "beautiful...intense, but beautiful." 
 
This weekend, the Cleveland Public Theater had three sold out premiere shows of Johanna: Facing Forward. The CPT even raised money to fly Johanna and her family back from Germany, where her husband is stationed in the Army. 

We caught up with Orozco via Skype on Monday. She's already back home in Germany.  
 
"On my way to the show, I was extremely nervous and I was, as well, excited," described Orozco.
 
The play was written using The Plain Dealer series on Johanna written by Rachel Dissell. It starts off with the March 2007 incident where Johanna's ex-boyfriend, Juan Ruiz Jr., used a shotgun to shoot her in the face while she was in her SUV. 

Orozco describes it as intense.
 
"Seeing the play, which is like watching myself, fighting for my life again. Seeing my family go through what they went through. Watching me fight for my life," said Orozco.
 
The play shows the pattern of abuse by Ruiz. It also shows Orozco's recovery, drive, mission to change domestic violence laws and, ultimately, her new life. Orozco is now married and has a son. 
 
"The beautiful thing about it is I survived. Through this ugly thing I survived. I could have stayed in a dark room feeling sorry for myself and I didn't. I moved on with my life," Orozco explained.
 
In the end, the overall message is one of inspiration and determination. Although she says you will need tissues during parts of the play, she says you will walk away from the show seeing the beautiful side of life. 
 
The show runs through June 13 at Gordon Square Theatre. Click here for more information.
 
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