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Women + War

a World Premiere
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA
by Multiple

COMPANY : Synchronicity Performance Group [WEBSITE]
VENUE : 7 Stages [WEBSITE]
ID# 1392

SHOWING : August 17, 2005 - October 09, 2005

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

The women speak. Synchronicity artists interviewed Atlanta-area women soldiers, refugees, defense contractors, missionaries, activists and more. In this startling, hopeful, funny and heartbreaking tapestry of text, movement and striking visuals - Synchronicity's dynamic ensemble explores what it means to be a woman who has been touched by war.


CAST & CREW LIST
Choreography Celeste Miller
Ensemble Brittany Bellizeare
Ensemble Kristy Casey
Ensemble Crystal A. Dickinson
Ensemble Suehyla El-Attar
Ensemble Alison Hastings
Ensemble Danielle Mindess
Ensemble Hope Mirlis
Ensemble Adrienne Moore
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Tapestry
by Dedalus
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
4.0
I’ve delayed writing about this play because I’ve been ambivalent about my own reaction to it. I believe it’s a significant artistic achievement for Synchronicity, and, since my own paradigms and preconceptions probably cause my ambivalence, I didn’t want my quibbles to color anyone’s decision to see it. Now that the run has ended, it’s a better time to float my thoughts and see if any of them hold enough water to sink me.

To recap, after the 2003 “Lysistrata” reading, the producers of Synchronicity decided to create an original theatrical piece based on interviews with women in the Atlanta area about the effects war has or has not had on their lives. The creators and actors took the results of those interviews, and created a tapestry of stories and songs and images that honor both their subjects and their art.

Rather than force my reactions into a structured and concise review, let me just list them, both positive and negative.

(1) Act One worked in every way possible. It showed us complete portraits of the women, successfully alternating pieces of different moods and methods, and climaxed with a breathtakingly well-delivered monologue by a character who had no contact with war or conflict. The contrast with the pieces that came before was stunning, and made them all the more emotionally effective as a result.

(2) Act Two was more problematic. It began with a rather lame “beauty pageant” parody, in which the contestants were women warriors and killers from history and legend. Then it simply went from portrait to portrait until the end. Although the individual portraits were well-done and emotionally involving, for me, they didn’t really hold together as a whole. It may be that the strong ending for Act One made an “impossible act to follow,” or it may be that the creators were too close to their subjects, that many of the stories were included simply because the stories were shared.

(3) Act Two also had two pieces in which the actresses seemed to condescend to their characters, rather than inhabit them. One involved two elderly sisters recalling their involvement with an African Civil War, the other involved the “Friday Protesters” of Marietta Square. In both cases, it seemed as if the actresses were subtly mocking their subjects. I’m sure this was unintentional, and it may well have been my odd reactions to certain generic “types.” I just felt I was watching caricatures and not real people (or people as real as in the other segments).

(4) On the other hand, the Marietta Square segment showed how personal connections can transcend political differences, and how open communication can undercut and mitigate the “human need for combat.”

(5) Part of the structure of the piece was the use of a “memorial wall” along the back of the stage, made up of stones which took on differing emotional or symbolic significance depending on the segment, and of articles and props from each segment. This provided a structure that worked really well for me. Maybe my slight disappointment in Act Two was an expectation of the wall providing a climax for the work, which did not happen. I would have liked to have seen more made of it.

(6) This play had, by far, the best usage of video that Synchronicity has done. I’ve been harping about Video Images on stage for a while, but, in this case, it was a definite enhancement rather than a distraction. In particular, an Act One segment involving Kristi Casey as a soldier in the Middle East, and an Act Two segment involving a recreated interview were almost overwhelming in their power, because of the video enhancement of the actress’s faces. It is a credit to the cast that they were able to convincingly show the characters and their moments from a distance and in full size close-ups. It was also a treat to see the real women being portrayed in some of the segments.

(7) At first, I wasn’t certain of the need for this piece. After all, some of the most powerful plays ever written have concerned themselves with Women and War (think “Women of Troy,” “Antony and Cleopatra,” “MacBeth,” “Mother Courage,” et al). Woman and War is a very large and wide-ranging subject for a play, especially if the creators purposefully avoid any thematic or political focus. But, after seeing it, I’m convinced of the creators’ passion for their subject, and the success of their achievement.

(8) I’m not sure what is next for this piece. If Synchronicity doesn’t mind some unsolicited advice, I’d recommend turning the script over to someone who does not have such a close connection to the subjects. A shorter, more structured (and intermission-less) piece might be more effective, especially if final segment of Act One is moved to the end. To do this, some painful cuts may need to be made. Also, as effective as the symbolic stones were, it may be a good idea to make sure they have a real and practical meaning in each scene as well as an emotional or symbolic meaning (otherwise, they come across as pretentious hoo-haw).

“Women + War” is a highly effective tapestry, an ever-moving portrait of our community and how the women of the community deal with tragedy and violence and all the soul-shredding things that make up conflict. It has many subjects, hides details in obscure corners, and comes in a wide variety of colors. You may say that some of quibbles are frays along the edges. But I haven’t seen a Tapestry yet that was ruined by its frays.


-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)

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