Several years ago, knowing of my interest in women’s history, a friend passed along some tapes consisting of interviews conducted by Sandra Boston at the Beijing Women’s Conference of 1995. Though I was quite familiar with the history and politics of the feminist movement, the lives I heard on these tapes were stories I knew nothing about. Girl trafficking in Nepal, abortion rights in Ireland, the protests of mothers in Argentina, the list went on and on. How could it be that I, an educated, politically aware person, did not know these events were taking place?
And so it all began. Months of sitting in libraries conducting research, going over first-hand accounts, anthropological studies, poetry, short stories, children stories, fables, anything I could get my hands on that would allow me a better understanding of who these women were and where they came from. I read their stories. I heard their voices. And I was, to put it simply, overwhelmed by the power of the female voice.
Theatre is not a passive art form. It is what separates it from other mediums. I believe in creating stories where the audience must play an active role with their imaginations fully engaged, so very little set and props are used to create the story. There is only one voice and one actor.
The piece derives its name from the ancient muse of history, Clio. Ultimately, the piece Letters will consist of eight to ten stories of women’s voices from all around the world. Part I, Neela, is the story of 14 year old Neela who reveals her archetypal story of being trafficked into a brothel in Bombay, India. Appearance of Life is the second in this series.
The third, Annie, tells the story of a Liberian woman’s move from political refugee, to resident of Northern Virginia, to community leader of the very country she once escaped. Annie is currently in development and is set to premiere next year.
For too long the voices of these women have made neither the evening news nor the history text books; I thought it was time they did.