Years ago, when she played a battered woman in a theater production in India, Deana Culp was struck by the significance of her role. “I was giving a voice to a woman living in dire circumstances who couldn’t speak for herself,” she said. “I was helping to spread her message.”
The play that she acted in, Seven, features the stories of seven women from around the world, all dealing with different forms of oppression, much of it imposed by male-dominated cultures. “This is a very powerful play with a powerful message,” says Culp, who is directing the play’s first Ecuadorian performance Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week.
The play will be presented in English at Cuenca’s Sala Alfonso Carrasco at the Casa de la Cultura by a cast of seven expat women, each telling the story of women in such countries as Nigeria, Guatemala and Afghanistan. Seven will be presented again March 19, 20 and 21, in Spanish with a Cuencana cast, in the Modern Art Museum auditorium, as part of the museum’s International Woman’s Month activities.
The expat cast features Marsea Hart, Laura Inks Bodine, Elinor Williams, Reshma Ruzicke, Egyirba High, and Linda Walker. The Cuencana cast includes Ofelia Cordova, Alex Kennedy, Ana Cordero, Malena de Botana, Liza Santelli, Tania Sarmiento, and Lethy Vernaza.
Seven, was written in 2006 and 2007 by seven female playwrights from seven countries, each telling the story of an oppressed woman. The play premiered in New York in 2008 and has since been performed in dozens of countries. The first Latin American Spanish-language performance was in Buenos Aires in 2010. This will be its second.
Culp says the play if affecting the cast members she direct like it affected her in India. “The effect of representing these women who can’t represent themselves is very emotional,” she says. “The women in the cast are often brought to tears as they deliver their lines. I think it will be emotional for the audience too.”
Seven is a presentation of the Azuay Community Theater, an expat project that Culp helped organize. She has experience with other expat community theaters in Costa Rica and India, while she was teaching English.
Following the Cuenca productions, Culp hopes to present the play in other Ecuador venues but also wants to use it as an educational tool at schools and universities. She is talking to the faculty at the Cuenca’s Catholic University about presenting the play to English language students, with the play to be followed by a discussion between actors and students.
Proceeds from the play go to Casa Maria Amor, a Cuenca battered women’s shelter, one of only five in Ecuador.
Tickets to the Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances at Sala Alfonso Carrasco can be purchased on Monday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the coffee shop, upstairs at the Casa de la Cultura theater on Luis Cordero between Sucre and Presidente Cordova. Tickets will also be for sale at Tuesday’s Trivia Night at Roux. Tickets are $10. Culp says she expects all performances to be sell-outs.
All performances begin at 7:30 p.m.