Sunday, September 30, 2018

Theatre AUM: "Female Voices"

A tradition at Theatre AUM is its annual showcase of theatre students' talents in the form of selected monologues and scenes. -- This year's theme is Female Voices featuring 21 student actors in almost 40 selections that highlight the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, as well as the Christine Blasey Ford/Brett Kavanaugh hearings, and show that the concerns of women [and men] today have been unresolved for centuries.

Performed on an open stage with minimal furniture and props, each of the pieces is announced by the actors, all of whom are dressed mostly in black that varies from concert attire to cocktail party outfits and more casual dress to achieve neutrality or social commentary to punctuate the pieces' intentions and words.

Female playwrights range from 17th Century Englishwoman Aphra Behn to contemporaries that include among others Sarah Ruhl, Caryl Churchill, Lorraine Hansberry, Pearl Cleage, Wendy Wasserstein, and Paula Vogel, all of whom confront issues that need attention. -- The mistreatment of women based on gender, social position, race, and sexuality are brought to the fore with selections that address such topics as violence, guns in schools, the Holocaust, abortion, locker room talk, fear, and the consequences of past actions -- the still unresolved issues that are covered everyday in both mainstream and social media.

Whether in a serious or humorous mode, the performances in this 1 hour 40 minute program focus on the historical perception of women as submissive to men's demands, and to women's resistance to being ignored, underrated, and abused.

Often delivered as in-yer-face address to the audience, we are made to reflect on their rage, accept our own discomfort in their condition, and resolve to make things better.

The varied strengths of the AUM actors are given attention, and audience members might remember or connect with any one piece. -- The thing that ties it all together by the end is an affirmation of the value of women in a society that still relegates them too often to second-class status, and the hope that in future there will be greater equity.