Theater Review: The Harrowing Stories of Global Female Activists Dramatized in Seven: A Documentary Play | Arts
Arts
INDY Week's arts blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Theater Review: The Harrowing Stories of Global Female Activists Dramatized in Seven: A Documentary Play

Posted by on Wed, Apr 5, 2017 at 2:30 PM

click to enlarge seven.png
Seven: A Documentary Play
★★★ ½
Through April 6
Sonorous Road Theater, Raleigh


Works like Seven: A Documentary Play sometimes experience difficulty attracting audiences, not despite their worthy subject matter but because of it. The 2007 project, commissioned by the Washington-based international organization Vital Voices Global Partnership, tasked a septet of playwrights, including MacArthur Foundation "Genius" grant-winner Anna Deavere Smith, to interview and dramatize the harrowing stories of seven notable women who have labored in recent decades to improve the living conditions of women in Africa, Central America, Europe, and Southeast, Central, and Western Asia.

That description, in itself, has the potential to turn off audiences already all but deafened by the constant carillon of alarms, both false and true, from last year’s presidential campaign and its bewildering aftermath. After another day's disclosing of new horrors in American politics, viewers might understandably think twice before devoting ninety more minutes to an evening of words of woe from abroad. Just three months into Trump's presidency, there’s hardly any need to unpack the term “activism fatigue.”

But that perception is crucially off-base when it comes to Sotto Voce Theatre’s inaugural production. True, this staging of Seven may well have difficulty finding audiences due to its unconventional run; it ends this Thursday after midweek-only performances at Raleigh’s Sonorous Road, following an opening last weekend at Durham’s Living Arts Collective.

In literary theory, the presence of a narrative implicitly denotes survival—somewhere, someone lived to tell the tale. But the seven subjects here are more than mere survivors. The compiled script in Seven emphasizes their triumphs without shortchanging the danger and hardship they have faced. At the end of the evening, I found myself inspired by their accounts.

In seeking the diversity in age and ethnicity required by this script, this new theater company took on a significant challenge, one that hasn't entirely been met. Under Sean Wellington’s direction, Cindy Vasquez gives an austere reading as she voices the tale of Anabella De Leon, who waged an indomitable campaign against corruption as a member of congress in the Guatemalan government.

Lucia Foster plumbs the earthy frankness of Northern Irish activist Inez McCormack. Ambient sound effects support Ra’Chel Fowler’s account of Farida Azizi’s night-time treks through the Afghani countryside to bring basic medical care to women in remote villages. Sharon Eisner finds the pathos in Marina Pisklakova-Parker’s efforts to start Russia’s first center for domestic violence in 1993.

Hazel Edmond’s crisp take on Hafsat Abiola animates her tale of political upheaval witnessed from afar, and the odyssey in which she found her political voice in Nigeria. Kaley Morrison gives a delicate, eerie note to Mu Sochua’s account of a Cambodian religious ritual used with the victims of human trafficking, and Julya Mirro reminds us of her signal strengths as an actor as she undertakes Mukhtar Mai’s shocking description of sexual abuse in Pakistan—and the amazing reversals of fortune that occurred in her life and many others’ when her attackers were brought to justice.

As the narrative threads cross repeatedly in this production, its actors bear eloquent witness to the achievements of women the world over against deeply ingrained social prejudices, with only the smallest of resources and support to begin with. To say the least, that news is needed in this moment in our culture. Throughout the night, beneath their tales of plight and perseverance, the voices of women from many lands whispered, sotto voce, “This is how we won.”

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Arts



Twitter Activity

Comments

Wow. I guess you can't recognize brilliant satire when you see it. This was an amazing performance that if you …

by Sam Bayer on ADF Review: Hillel Kogan's We Love Arabs Lags Behind a Cultural Conversation Already Well Underway in Our Region's Performing Arts Scene (Arts)

The photo in this article is of Jackson Cooper and Katie Barrett, as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, not of …

by David Akiva Klionsky on Theater Review: The Amusing Tea with Edie & Fitz Strains to Make Hay From a Gin-Soaked Dust-Up Between Edith Wharton and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Arts)

Most Recent Comments

Wow. I guess you can't recognize brilliant satire when you see it. This was an amazing performance that if you …

by Sam Bayer on ADF Review: Hillel Kogan's We Love Arabs Lags Behind a Cultural Conversation Already Well Underway in Our Region's Performing Arts Scene (Arts)

The photo in this article is of Jackson Cooper and Katie Barrett, as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, not of …

by David Akiva Klionsky on Theater Review: The Amusing Tea with Edie & Fitz Strains to Make Hay From a Gin-Soaked Dust-Up Between Edith Wharton and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Arts)

Thanks for the nice article and acknowledgement, Byron. I would like to put a gentle dedication out to my father, …

by RKlem on Common Ground Theatre Is Gone, But Some of Its Resources and Its Role Live on in Walltown Children's Theatre (Arts)

I thought it was a great movie. The acting was believable, special effects were good, story was balanced and the …

by Cat Jackson on Movie Review: In King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Guy Ritchie Gets Medieval on Our Collective Asses (Arts)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation