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Columnists Judy Salamacha

SEVEN: International Documentary Theater in Morro Bay

In 2008, the stories of seven women who took a personal stand to fight for the well-being of women, families, and children was launched in New York City as the play, “SEVEN.”

Seven acclaimed playwrights, including Cambrian Paula Cizmar, personally interviewed each protagonist then collaborated to weave together their testimonies.

The play exposes domestic violence in Russia; human trafficking in Cambodia; the plight of Guatemala’s poor; Afghanistan’s rural women; the fight for peace and equality in Northern Ireland; and women’s education and rights in Nigeria and Pakistan.

It has been translated into 22 languages and performed in 32 countries, including 22 States in the U.S., (See: www.seventheplay.com)

May 25-28, By the Sea Productions in Morro Bay will produce SEVEN in a Reader’s Theater format, directed by Janice Peters. “I wonder if we’re going backwards? I fought some of these same battles in the ‘60s,” Peters said.

The retired Morro Bay City Council member and mayor (1996-2010) has found joy reinvigorating her original career in theater with numerous Central Coast acting roles.

SEVEN marks Peters’ directing debut and ends a 6-year quest to bring SEVEN to SLO County audiences. “I was put in touch with Paula six years ago. I read the play in tears. It was beautiful, uplifting and frightening all at once.”

Peters immediately then persistently recommended it to several local theaters. “The answer was generally that the characters were so ethnically diverse it couldn’t be cast on the Central Coast. I called for auditions beyond the regular sites and had an amazing diverse group of women try out. Each has a passion for their part.”

For example, T.C. Wits described why she wanted to read for Guatemala’s Anabela DeLeon: “Long ago it occurred to me that the repression and oppression of women is the limiting factor in humankind’s progress. As my mother is from Guatemala City, I have a direct connection. Twenty years old in the early 1950s, my mother was legally sent to live with an aunt in California — also legally here by marriage to an American soldier.

“My mom has several unusual personality ‘features,’ no doubt due to the difficult life and culture she left behind. I know firsthand about silence and secrets and the damage caused and perpetuated.”

The character attracts her. “This character is a fighter,” she explained, “it makes me wonder how my mother might have turned out if she had stayed and fought, too. She did not pursue her dreams of becoming an opera singer here; could not in Guatemala.”

Samatha Loring plays Irishwoman Inez McCormack. “I’m attracted to SEVEN primarily because it is a powerful reminder that we can and must be instruments for change. Inez spoke to me not only because of my Northern Ireland heritage, but also because she believed that being useful is better than being important.”

Shane Molka Roglioski will read the part of Mu Sochua from Cambodia. Roglioski recalled scrimping to attend each concert season with her mother, observing the slow emergence of female musicians in the orchestra.

Although she had an aptitude and desire to learn carpentry, only males could take the middle school class. Roglioski’s niece once tearfully asked, “Auntie, why are there no girls that did anything in history?”

She cringes at each worldwide horror story of abuse, assault and rape. “I am a person of no importance whatsoever politically,” Roglioski said, “but I can speak to audiences who will listen. Mu Sochua dedicated her life to holding abusers accountable, halting the desecration of human trafficking, leveling the playing field of education and opportunity. I regard it a deeply sacred honor to do this.”

Kate Kravets is a dialect coach by trade and Russian/Slavic accents are some of her favorites, thus, a match to read Russia’s, Marina Pisklakova-Parker. “Once I started researching and read the script, I was profoundly moved by all the women’s stories, but was especially drawn to Marina,” Kravets said. “I can’t give too much away, but there is an incident she describes that chilled me to the bone.”

Other cast members include Patricia Gordon, Noelle McGhee-Westbay, and Cika Cook.

In 2016, By the Sea Productions, formerly the Pewter Plough Players changed the theater company’s name and relocated to Morro Bay due to operational changes at the Cambria Playhouse.

“St. Peter’s by-the-Sea [Episcopal Church] was the best fit,” said Peters. After sold out performances of its first production, On Golden Pond, in February and March, the troupe has high hopes for its 2017 schedule. “We learned some things we will take care of with seating, site line viewing and being more considerate of our neighbors about parking.”

Tickets for SEVEN are on sale now for $10 a person online at: www.bytheseaproductions.org. The performance will include a post-Q&A with the performers. Peters noted, “This is mature content probably not for children under 12.”

Freelance writer, columnist and author, Judy Salamacha’s Then & Now column is a regular feature of Simply Clear Marketing & Media. Contact her at: judysalamacha@gmail.com or (805) 801-1422 with story ideas. 

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