The Riverland Community College Theatre in Austin is opening its doors to present an internationally acclaimed documentary-play called “Seven,” on Wednesday. The play features the stories of seven present-day female revolutionaries. The dialogue — extracted from one-on-one interviews with seven award-winning playwrights — tell the true stories of women on their role in effecting change in their home countries of Cambodia, Russia, Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Guatemala.
Susan V. Hansen is the director of "Seven" and takes on the role of Inez McCormack from Northern Ireland who was an influential human rights and trade union activist, according to seventheplay.com
Seventy years ago, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that human rights are the rights of all human beings, including the right to life, freedom, the right to work, and education. However, some governments violate these human rights and show that the declaration does not necessarily mean that people are guaranteed their human rights.
"When I look around and see that some women don't even have basic necessities, I don't know how they get through their day, every day," said Hansen
Claire Olsen plays as Marina Pisklakova-Parker, a Russian girl who grew up in an upper-class family during the Soviet era. Pisklakova-Parker founded the first hotline for victims of domestic violence in Russia in 1993 when there was no such thing.
Every year, 14,000 women die from domestic injuries inflicted by their husbands or partners - that's approximately 40 women a day, according to a report by the BBC.
"As an actor, you're not living that life. These women have. So, we hope that we can give justice to what they're doing," said Hansen.
Hansen is also a fine arts professor at Riverland Community College and says it took five weeks to prepare for the show's debut. She initially planned to do a production surrounding immigration.
"I felt that it just wasn't coming together the way that I felt we needed to tell the story, and during the audition, we had all these women show up," she said. "I had no idea this play even existed, but in my research, I came across the monologues for the play, and I was blown away."
Paulina Aguirre Quijano is from Mexico and takes on the role of Anabella De Leon from Guatemala. Quijano says many women in Mexico share the same challenges of poverty that Anabella endured.
She says despite seeing how some women are attacked based on their socio-economic status, these contemporary women who make up "Seven" give her hope that there will be more progress.
The cast also consists of local actors and international actors, among those previously mentioned: Pamela Urick as Farida Azizi, Lia Culbert as Mukhtar Mai, Maria Cristina Aranda as Mu Sochua.
"No one has batted an eye about the material, that's the sad part, it seems so common," said Hansen.
When Claire Olsen was introduced to the documentary-play, she was moved by the life-threatening issues these women had to deal with.
"I was like, this is really deep...this really resonated with me," said Olsen. "I was like, this is kinda scary. And then, I got over that, and I said, 'okay' we need to put out a message."
Hansen says for every story being told on the stage, there are a thousand more stories of injustice, inequality, and violence silenced by fear and danger.
But, she's thankful for the creative space that allows her to speak for them.
"Seven" will be performed Feb. 28, March 1,2, and 3 at 7 p.m. and March 4 at 2 p.m. at the Frank W. Bridges Theatre.
Click here for more information: https://riverland.universitytickets.com/w/default.aspx