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Women + War

a Drama
CATEGORY :
by Synchronicity Performance Group

COMPANY : Synchronicity Performance Group [WEBSITE]
VENUE : 7 Stages [WEBSITE]
ID# 3667

SHOWING : February 19, 2010 - May 07, 2010

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

The women speak. Our company-created hit from 2005 returns, with a vibrant tapestry of startling, hopeful, heartbreaking and funny stories that cast new light on the wartime experiences of soldiers, refugees, defense contractors, missionaries, activists and others. A cast of six uses text, movement and visuals to help you see, feel and hear these women as they share personal, not political, tales. The original 2-plus-hour script has been tightened to 90 minutes. This show will tour when it closes its local run.


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REVIEWS

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Tapestry (Version 2.0)
by Dedalus
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
4.5
This month, Synchronicity Performance Group is offering its newest version of their 2005 effort, “Women + War.” This is essentially a collection of monologues and images, weaving a tapestry of the many different experiences women have when confronted with war. I think the group has helped the piece with this tighter, more carefully constructed version.

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 the show.

I had some issues with the 2005 version, most of which have been addressed here, some of which linger around the edges.

First and foremost, in 2005, the strongest monologue ended the first act leaving the second act to stumble from piece to piece with no discernible structure. This time, the play has been condensed into a single 1¾ -hour act, which flows smoothly, building tension and interest as it moves along. I do have to confess missing the monologue that ended the original first act (a moving portrait of a woman making an active effort to NOT confront War); however, its absence, in fact, makes the remaining pieces seem somehow stronger.

I was happy to see the lame “beauty pageant” cut, and I was glad to see the “Standup Comedy” routine tightened and made darker. Other pieces retained their strength, their compelling combination of “testimony,” confession, fear, and horror.

The production contains a lot of poetic, almost musical touches – choreographed gestures, smooth stones taking on emotional (if not symbolic) weight, video projections of the actors and of the original sources of the material and of transcribed words and thoughts, all of which contribute to the consistent subjective progression of the piece as a whole.

Regarding the videography, this is a consistently effective use of the technology. In particular, an Act One segment involving a soldier in the Middle East, and a later segment involving a recreated interview were almost overwhelming in their power, because of the video enhancement of the actresses’ 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 recordings the real women being portrayed in some of the segments.

As to the cast, I do wish the program had featured pictures so we could match up the actress with the work on view. In 2005, the ensemble were the actual creators of the piece – this new cast has taken the work and made it their own. Strong ensemble kudos go to all six women (Cynthia D. Barker, Teresa DeBerry, Pam Joyce, Eve Krueger, Maria Sager, and Annie York) for creating a wide range of women, all of whom they bring to compelling life. Director Rachel May has kept the focus on the stories, with the more surreal and poetic flourishes acting as enhancements.

In 2005, I made the rather short-sighted assertion that 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). This piece shows, if nothing else, that there is a wide variety of stories, that there will always be a need for updates, revisions, and additions. Woman and War is a very large and wide-ranging subject for a play, and, once again, I’m convinced of the creators’ passion for their subject, and the success of their achievement.

I’d actually like to see the troupe revisit this piece every five years or so. The depressing fact is there will always be a new war, a new confrontation, a new story to tell. Hearing the stories again only drives home the individual natures of these too-common occurrences, and it’s a piece that should evolve as time changes these particular women and their memories, and as history spills out new tales of war and the female human.

“Women + War” is a highly effective play, 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 images. It is a tapestry imbued with blood-reds and khaki-greens, one that can only grow as history and civilization weave ever more stories and memories.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)


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