'Seven' brings women's stories of international struggle, triumph to WMU

Jan 23, 2014


The WMU Theater Department is presenting seven stories of devastation and triumph through female voices from around the world. The documentary-style play ‘Seven’ runs through February 2nd. 

The show is about seven women from around the world sharing their struggles to find their voice and express their rights as women. This is the first time the play will be performed at WMU.

The documentary-style play was written by several playwrights using stories of real women from all over the globe as dialogue. The women's triumphs include creating the first domestic violence hotline in Russia and making rapists stand trial in Pakistan.

"Because it is interviews, all of the women have such a different voice,” says WMU junior and actress Sophie Scanlon.  “And it's not just their accents that are different, but it's how they speak and what they say first and what's important and you get their characters and their lives and their spirits through their words."

Scanlon is playing Afghani woman Farida Azizi. Her character is fighting for basic healthcare needs for women in her home country. Azizi spent fifteen years in a refugee camp after the Taliban forced her to evacuate her home in 1993.

"You know I'm a 21 year-old woman; 15 years is a long time. I can't imagine the majority of my life being spent in a place that wouldn't teach me to read and write,” she says. “ The fact that she is a highly educated, brilliant, brilliant woman with aspirations that I couldn't even imagine - is astounding."

The women represent several countries - including Cambodia, Guatemala, and Ireland - but not the United States. Even though you may not be able to relate to these women as easily, the plot shows the importance of being an advocate for justice and human rights despite your circumstances, says Lofty Durham, assistant professor of theater and co-director of the show.

"Even with avatars like Anna Deavere Smith and Hillary Clinton and Toni Morrison out there showing people examples, that doesn't mean that we have solved the problem of equality,” he says. “Watching women confront it and then own it and despite bad things that happen - there's always time to claim your voice and your identity."

Though the subject matter is heavy, each woman finds a way to overcome her circumstance and move forward. That determination is what Durham hopes to leave the audience with every night.

"I want people to feel invited to participate in the movement of making our society better. These women who confronted so much reshaped their lives and their societies - what could we do? We don't have to change the world, we could just start with our local communities - like they did."

Seven will be performed through February 1 at York Arena Theater