Seven: The Story of Women

 

On Saturday at 8pm an audience was taken aback by a spectacular performance. ‘Seven’ is a show dedicated to women working tirelessly for basic human rights.

A series of harrowing monologues from women who chose to stand up against the status quo. Mrs. Podorsek revealed that the night resulted in raising almost 6000RM, allowing Tanaga Nita to receive a big donation.

The cast included 7 familiar faces: Tina Casey, Celia Cookson, Tiana Nelson, Suji Dehart, Ana Gayoso, Lisa Jensen-Hengstler, and Noren Sahari playing Inez mcCormick, Marina Pisklakova, Mu Sochua, Anabella De Leon, Farida Azizi, Hafsat Abiola, and Mukhtar Mai.

Mrs. Podorsek, the director, introduced the show as a wake up call. She explained how people tend to get wrapped up in their own hectic lives, and forget about the harrowing realities faced by people around the globe. This particular play was dedicated to women and their courageous plights for a more equal world. The stories shared were eye opening and hard to hear but extremely pertinent to today’s day and age.

Mrs. Podorsek first came across the play six years ago, when she produced it at her old school in India.

“I was sitting at a baseball game watching little league and another mom came by and she told me how mesmerized she had been after watching this play, two days later I find a script of the play on my desk, and of course after I read it I was also transfixed by it.”

Ms Cookson played Marina Pisklakova who founded the first hotline for domestic violence in Russia,  back when women didn’t even know the term ‘domestic abuse’. Despite the unsupportive crowds she faced, along with reluctant legislators, she persevered even after several threats on her family.

Ms. Cookson explained her process in trying to capture the essence of her character: ‘I did a lot of background research, I watched a lot of videos of her, I read about her, I even bought the book ‘Domstroy’ by Ivan the terrible so that I could get an understanding of their mentality. The worst part was that there was this idea that you don’t really love someone unless you beat them’.

One of characteristics of Marina Pisklakova that Mrs. Cookson really wanted to portray was her empathy, ‘she had lots of love and she says that when you are surrounded by love you have that internal responsibility to share that love with others’

Ms Casey played Inez McCormick from Northern Ireland. She was a very influential human rights and trade union activist, becoming the first female president of the Irish congress of trade Union.

Ms Nelson played Hafsat Abiola an advocate for human rights after the murder of her parents. She founded the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy. It provides leadership opportunities for women in Nigeria.

Ms Dehart played an astonishing role as a woman raped in Pakistan. Mukhtar Mai was gang raped by four men and thus lost her soul and reputation. Instead of submitting to her perpetrators, she fought against them until they were sentenced to death. Mukhtar then founded various schools hoping to empower women and mobilise them.

Ms Gayoso played Anabella de Leon, perfectly portraying her strength of character. Anabella raised herself and her family out of poverty, pursuing education and becoming a congresswoman. Despite threats and derogatory remarks she managed to fight relentlessly for human rights.

Ms Jensen-Hengstler acted as Farida Azizi with chilling lines that left the audience stunned. She would travel to rural areas in Afghanistan trying to obtain medical supplies to treat women at the time. She worked against the marginalisation of women under Taliban rule and attempted to educate other women on how to take care of other women.

Finally Ms Sahari was Mu Sochua a Cambodian activist who won a seat in parliament in 2008. Her parents were killed under Pol Pot’s regime, and she was sent away to fight for the rights of others. Mrs. Sahari explains how ‘She is fighting against the men, and a community that sees no other way especially in terms of human trafficking–she is swimming against the tide’.

Playing such an influential person ‘I wanted to try to understand what she was about and what she wanted to achieve. She makes us think about the privileges that we have, and she gave hers up to help the beaten and the abused, I listen to her a lot because I try to sound like I her, I think the accent plays a part in trying to be convincing. I felt like every time I spoke like her I could feel her, I assumed her role. Sometimes playing our characters when practicing we would breakdown’

The audience was thrilled by the performance Lily ‘17 said “it was a simple production wherein the lights, staging, and concept was rather basic, which is what let the remarkable stories of these women to shine brilliantly and leave the audience speechless and the women empowered”.

The president of the feminist club Hannah ‘17 had only positive comments as well stating that “Seven was a brilliant play that touched upon so many important topics that needed to be discussed; it’s inspiring and powerful to see such courageous and strong women become a part of the global narrative.”

Watching ‘Seven’ meant getting to learn about women that inspired change. Their stories included completely different upbringings and backgrounds united by the single thread of thirst for equality and basic human rights.

Ms. Cookson summarises her character with: ‘She didn’t stand back, when we hear terrible things we don’t jump to action we don’t call to arms. She did. She is resilient and she is not afraid to do what is right–I think many of us are.’

The ‘takeaway’ message as explained by Mrs. Podorsek is the last line: ‘how do you keep doing this after all of these years?’ and Mu Sochua replies with ‘you have to keep doing it until people who don’t have a voice do.’