Monday, April 22, 2013


When Helen Reddy wrote the song "I Am Woman Hear Me Roar," she could well have been penning the anthem for seven women from all over the globe who are the subjects of a dramatic theater piece entitled "Seven."  Each woman could easily proclaim "I am strong, I am invincible," with wisdom and conviction, enduring pain and paying the price.

Their stories have been woven by seven women playwrights - Paula Cizmar, Catharine Filloux, Gail Kriegel, Carol K. Mack, Ruth Margraff, Anna Deavere Smith and Susan Yankowitz -out of interviews that began in 2006, with the encouragement of the Vital Voices Global Partnership, into a intriguing tapestry of diversity.

On Sunday, April 28 at 2 p.m., the Stray Kats Theatre Company, led by artistic director Kate Katcher, will give these women of courage and determination a voice.  The Alexandria Room at Edmond Town Hall, 45 Main Street, Newtown will bear witness to their stories.

Come be inspired by Marina Pisklakova-Parker who created the first women's hotline for victims of domestic violence, Center ANNA in Russia;  Mu Sochua who conducted door-to-door visits to hundreds of villages in her native Cambodia to win one of two seats granted to females in her country's cabinet;  Mukhtar Mai who was gang-raped in Pakistan because her brother committed the crime of holding hands with a woman of a higher caste and turned her tragedy into triumph;  Inez McCormack who worked in northern Ireland to secure human rights and social justice for women and minorities; Annabella DeLeon who pulled herself and her family out of poverty in Guatemala to become a congresswoman striving for women and the poor; Farida Azizi who stood up against the Taliban in her native Afghanistan working for peace and has had to seek asylum in the United States because of death threats; Hafsat Abiola who, after her parents were murdered, continued their activist work to build bridges of skills and democracy in her native Nigeria as well as between African and Chinese women.

When Kate Katcher's friend Carol Mack, one of the authors of this groundbreaking work, encouraged her to see its premiere several years ago in New York at the 92nd Street Y, Kate was "blown away" and knew she wanted to produce it one day herself.  She got the script and read and reread it.  She knew audiences would think about it and talk about it, that it would resonate and be "touching, poignant, educational and life-altering."  Calling it "such a different view of our world," Katcher's goal is to raise awareness about these issues and "bring women into the light, to keep the dialogue going so everyone gets the message."

In this one hour piece, she has worked to combine Equity actors with prominent women in the community, striving to be ethnically diverse  To date, they include Jenny Polozov, Managing Director of Regina's Art Center,  Lisa Skails, Executive Director of the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut, actress Caroline Winterson and Kate Katcher, Artistic Director of Stray Kats.  First Selectwoman Pat Llodra will introduce the piece.

The dramatic reading will be followed by a discussion with members of the cast and Vital Voices, as well as refreshments provided by Stray Kats' Board Member Jessica Kaufman. For tickets (adults, $25 in advance, $30 at the door; seniors $20 in advance, $25 at the door, plus $1 credit card charge), call 203-514-2221 or online at Tickets may also be purchased at Queen Street Gifts and Treats, 5 Queen Street, Newtown.

Be there for an extraordinary afternoon of documentary theater when "Seven," seven women's stories written by seven playwrights, are told to prove that one person can make a difference, how courage and change can take place, how despair can turn to hope and promise.  Be there to applaud their triumph.

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