THE STORY: A collaboration of seven award-winning women playwrights, SEVEN is based on personal interviews with seven women leaders of the Vital Voices Global Partnership network who have triumphed over huge obstacles to create major changes in human rights in their home countries. In the seven interwoven stories we see the commonality of challenge and of bravery, and in the individual monologues that follow, we experience each fascinating whole true story.
SEVEN WOMEN / SEVEN PLAYWRIGHTS:
Hafsat Abiola, Nigeria
Hafsat Abiola, an advocate for human rights and democracy following the murder of her activist parents, founded the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy, which provides skills-training and leadership opportunities for young women across Nigeria. She now helps build bridges between African and Chinese women, as China increases its engagement in the African continent.
Anna Deavere Smith, Playwright
Anna Deavere Smith is an actor, teacher, playwright and creator of unique one-woman plays based on interviews. Anna Deavere Smith has won two Obie Awards, two Tony nominations for TWILIGHT: LOS ANGELES, and a MacArthur Fellowship. A Pulitzer Prize finalist for her play FIRES IN THE MIRROR, Ms. Smith is founder and director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at New York University. As an actress she has appeared in many films and on the television series West Wing. Her new book, Letters to the Artist, has recently been published by Anchor Books.
Farida Azizi, Afghanistan
Farida Azizi became an activist fighting the marginalization of women under Taliban rule in her native country. Because of threats on her life, she has gained asylum and now lives in the United States with her two children and works on women’s rights and peace-building in Afghanistan.
Ruth Margraff, Playwright
Ruth Margraff’s play HARLEQUIN, commissioned by a Playwrights’ Center McKnight award, was read at Victory Gardens (Chicago) and the New Group (NYC). Her martial arts opera, DRAGON VS. EAGLE, marks her 6th collaboration with composer Fred Ho for the Apollo and Brooklyn Academy of Music, commissioned by her fourth Rockefeller award. She has toured all over the world with her Café Antarsia Ensemble to festivals and venues throughout the UK, Canada, Russia, Romania, Serbia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Greece, Turkey, Slovenia, Croatia and Egypt. Ruth was delegated to represent the U.S. State Department on a Peaceworks Cultural envoy to Calcutta, India and received a Fulbright “All Disciplines Award: New Opera” to Greece. She is an alumna of New Dramatists, an active member of LPTW and Theater Without Borders/Brandeis Coexistence International, Associate Professor of Playwriting at the Art Institute of Chicago and represented by Susan Schulman.
Annabella De Leon, Guatemala
Annabella raised herself and her family out poverty by getting an education. She has been a congresswoman since 1995 and has received death threats because of her fight against corruption and for the rights of the poor, particularly women and indigenous peoples.
Gail Kriegel, Playwright
Gail Kriegel was the Artist-in-Residence at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 2005–2006. She is presently developing her musical, SWEETIE, and a children’s operetta, RAINBOW JUNCTION. Gail has been widely produced. Her film Fragments won top awards at five film festivals. For her prize-winning play ON THE HOME FRONT she received a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, One World Arts Grant, NYFA grant, the Ruby Lloyd Apsey Award and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Gail was Visiting Artist at The American Academy in Rome, 2005. A member of the BMI Musical Theater Workshop, her work has been published by Smith & Kraus, Heinemann Press and is included in the Archives at Lincoln Center.
Marina Pisklakova-Parker, Russia
Against tremendous odds in 1993, Marina Pisklakova-Parker founded the first hotline for victims of domestic violence, which has since grown into Center ANNA, part of a coalition that has provided crisis and counseling services for 100,000 Russian women.
Paula Cizmar, Playwright
Paula Cizmar’s plays have been produced off-Broadway, in London, and in regional theatres from Maine to California—including Portland Stage, American Place Theatre, The Women’s Project (NY), San Diego Rep, the Jungle Theater, and Playwrights Arena. She has been selected for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and Sundance Theatre Lab and is the recipient of numerous awards including a National Endowment for the Arts playwriting grant and a residency at the Rockefeller Foundation’s study center in Bellagio, Italy. She has received commissions from Actors Theatre of Louisville (short plays), Cypress College (VENUS IN ORANGE, written with Laura Shamas), and Salt Lake Acting Company (NOTHING SACRED), among others. Often taking on political and social issues, her many published and produced plays include STREET STORIES, THE DEATH OF A MINOR, CANDY & SHELLEY GO TO THE DESERT, BONE DRY and STILL LIFE WITH PARROT & MONKEY. Also a screenwriter, Paula was a staff writer for two seasons on the PBS series American Family. She teaches playwriting at the University of Southern California.
Mukhtar Mai, Pakistan
Mukhtar Mai was gang raped by four men and forced to walk home almost naked in retribution for an alleged “honor crime.” Ms. Mai and her harrowing story grabbed headlines across the world. Instead of taking the traditional “women’s” route of committing suicide, she brought her rapists to justice, built schools to improve the condition of women, and became an advocate for education in her country.
Susan Yankowitz, Playwright
Susan Yankowitz is a playwright, novelist and librettist. Her best-known plays include PHAEDRA IN DELIRIUM, TERMINAL1969, TERMINAL 1996, (collaborations with Joseph Chaikin’s Open Theatre), A KNIFE IN THE HEART, and NIGHT SKY, which has been performed throughout the U.S. and in translations world wide. In music theatre, she is bookwriter/lyricist for TRUE ROMANCES with Elmer Bernstein, SLAIN IN THE SPIRIT with Taj Mahal and CHÉRI with Michael Dellaira. She was a 2006 resident artist at HERE with her mixed-media play, THE LUDICROUS TRIAL OF MR. P. Her work has been honored by the NEA, Guggenheim, Rockefeller and NYFA foundations, among others.
Inez McCormack, Northern Ireland
Inez McCormack is an activist for women’s and human rights, labor, and social justice and a former President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. Ms. McCormack played a critical role in the 1998 Good Friday Peace Accords and continues to advocate for equal rights and fair labor practices for women and minorities. Ms. McCormack currently serves as chair of the Participation and the Practice of Rights Project (PPR), a program that helps the disadvantaged access resources and services in Ireland, both North and South. In 2008 she received the prestigious Irish Tatler Woman of the Year Award.
Carol K. Mack, Playwright
Carol K. Mack’s plays have been produced Off-Broadway and in regional theatres across the U.S. WITHOUT A TRACE had its European premiere at the Tron, Glasgow, 2002 and toured Scotland. Her new play, THE VISITOR, received a grant from the Foundation for Jewish Culture. Premieres include THE ACCIDENT, American Repertory Theatre; IN HER SIGHT AND AFTER, Actors Theatre of Louisville; TERRITORIAL RITES, The Women’s Project. Awards include Stanley Drama Award, Julie Harris/Beverly Hills Theatre Guild Award and a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship. Her plays have been selected for four editions of The Best American Short Plays, Applause Books. Her book, A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels & Other Subversive Spirits, was published by Profile Books, London, 2008.
“Riveting, explosive, and inspiring drama…starkly emotive…reaffirm[s] the belief that one person could indeed make a difference."—Huffington Post. “It was impossible not to be inspired by the widely varying examples of courage that the project corralled.” —Washington Post. “[A] coherent testimony of fundamental, frightening and shameful oppression of women all over the world—in the name of traditional economical, political and physical male power…It is an overwhelming experience to hear these women through the actors: brief, unsentimental, universal and personal. One cries. And becomes a little wiser.” —Dagens Nyheter (Sweden).