From NYC to Butler: ‘Seven’ celebrates women

Performers from Butler University and from the Phoenix Theater take on the lives and hardships of women from around the world in their production of “Seven.”

The documentary play “Seven” will be performed at Butler University’s Lilly Hall Studio Theatre next week from Sept. 5 through Sept. 8.

Though there will be performances of the play in cities around the globe later this year, including shows in Japan, Sweden and Russia.

Created in 2006, the piece tells the stories of seven women living in different parts of the world.

Despite some dark shadows cast upon the women in the piece, William Fisher, chair of Butler’s theater department, said the play has an positive tone, in a certain sense.

“(It is) not optimistic because of what these women have had to overcome in getting success, but because in every case and in every story, these are people whose work is ongoing and continuing,” Fisher said.

When seven female playwrights were commissioned by Vital Voices, an organizations working to “bring visibility to extraordinary women around the world by unleashing their leadership potential,” the result was a piece that documents women surmounting obstacles and promoting the betterment of humanity.

Among these stories is that of a congresswomen from Guatemala who has devoted her life and career to promoting the rights of the poor. She has received death threats for her work.

Another woman, from Pakistan, was gang raped. Instead of committing suicide as is socially expected, she has become an advocate for education reform.

Unlike a fictional narrative, Fisher said this documentary play cannot be finished.

“This is not a ‘problem solved at the end of the play’ play,” he said. “Instead, it tells us “this is what happened, this is where we are, this is what it seems to have cost and this is how we continue.”

The script will be performed as a staged reading with relatively minimal production and staging, a format which Fisher said is best suited for the structure of the piece.

Five Butler theatre students and two actresses from the Phoenix Theater will portray the seven women whose stories are told.

Fisher said that collaborating with professionals from the Phoenix Theater for this performance seemed to be a natural decision.

“Students from Butler frequently perform for their theater in roles or as interns,” he said. “It seemed intuitive to bring (members of the Phoenix Theater) to our campus under the idea of community—a particularly suitable idea for this play.”

Butler senior Kate Powell, who portrays Russian Marina Pisklakova-Parker in the production, said that the most extraordinary aspect of performing in “Seven” is how different the script sounded being spoken versus being read in her head.

“There’s so much more impact when someone is actually speaking the words,” Powell said.

A preview will take place next Thursday, followed by shows at 8 p.m. on the following three days. Tickets are $5 for Butler students with ID and $15 for the public.

Tickets are free on Thursday with a reservation, which can be made at www.butler.edu/theatre/productions/reservations

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