Enheduanna (Dre Slaman), a Sumerian high priest circa 2300 BC and first known author of the world, has returned and summoned women from around the globe to tell their stories of violence and oppression.
This is the theme of playwright Cindy Williams Gutierrez‘s choreopoem In The Name of Forgotten Women which is now onstage at CoHo Productions in its first live performance in more than two years.
Among those summoned are African Woman/Australian Woman (Kristin Robinson); Asian Woman (Mini Sharma-Ogle); North American Woman/Raven Woman (Naiya Amilcar); Latin American Woman (Eleanor Amoros); European Woman (Hannah Edelson; and Crone/Raven Woman (Melanie Moseley).
“The form of ‘choreopoem’ allows us to use elements from across the spectrum of the arts–music, song, dance, projections, poetry–to flesh out these stories, to give them body and spirit,” says director Gemma Whelan.
The “story” in this intense and moving work is documentation of violence and atrocities against women–as a population, not as individuals!–from fifteen countries spanning the most recent four centuries. For audience members, it is difficult to imagine who even thought these things up because what it all amounts to in total is nothing less than hatred toward women, as punishment for just being. As recently as 1991, just for example, in Brazil it was ruled that a man can no longer kill his wife. And, the abuse is not limited to any particular place on the globe. This is a show that delves into a multitude of cultures including our own.
Though grim pictures are painted from across the globe, what redeems this work is the hope of the playwright that better days lie ahead for women. There is a deep and abiding message that together women can triumph over history–even though, as late as 2010, women in Afghanistan were forbidden to write poetry and in the year 2022 still can’t go to school. And it is, as Gemma Whelan says, “a cry against forgetting”.
On the CoHo stage, the forgotten women stand up and speak their truths as they work to create a better future for all of us, a future where the power of the feminine is restored.
On the creative team with Gutierrez and Whelan and David Levine, stage manager; Corey McCarey, production manager; Karl Hanover, dialect coach; Lyra Butler-Denman, movement director; Gerardo Calderon, musical director/percussionist/sound designer; Gisela Rodriguez Fernandez, violinist; Cecille Elliott, violinist; Lara A. Klingman, scenic designer/set builder/master electrician/props manager; Blanca Forzan, lighting designer; Lawrence Siulagi, projection designer; Kathleen LaFlamme, costume designer; Jacquelyne Andrew, Raven Woman costume designer.
The production runs through April 17. Tickets are available here.