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Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - 8:17am

Seven, a documentary play dramatizing the struggles of seven global women who have overcome massive obstacles, will be performed at 6 p.m. on October 14 in JCC's Scharmann Theatre.

The performance is free and open to the public. Seven is produced by the LakeArts Foundation in association with the State University of New York at Fredonia, Venture Productions, and JCC’s Weeks Gallery.

The production, made possible by a grant from Cummins Engine, Inc., is also supported by funds from the Weeks Gallery, JCC Foundation, SUNY Fredonia theatre and dance department, and the SUNY Arts and Technology Incubator. 

Seven will also be performed at 6 p.m. on October 8 in Rosch Hall at SUNY Fredonia.

Chautauqua County leaders will read the roles of seven women who endured abuse in Russia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Guatemala, and Cambodia.

Playwright Carol K. Mack recruited six other award-winning playwrights - Paula Cizam, Catherine Filloux, Gail Kriegel, Ruth Margraff, Anna Deavere Smith, and Susan Yankowitz - to write about seven extraordinary women. Each worked closely with a subject to create a monologue of an activist’s journey, and together wove the seven monologues into the script for the global production of Seven.

Seven, which opened the first Women’s Economic Forum, also featured a portrayal by Meryl Streep as one of the activists when the play was performed at the 2010 Women in the World conference in New York.

In 2010, Swedish director Hedda Sjögren took an innovative approach to casting Seven by convincing political leaders to perform the script. Other local scripts were developed featuring the stories of community women presented alongside the global version of Seven. Since 2010, Seven has been translated into 20 languages and has been performed in 32 countries and 22 U.S. states.

The local production is coordinated by Margaret Johnson of the LakeArts Foundation in Dunkirk with assistance from Ted Sharon, associate professor and head of performance for Fredonia State’s theatre department and director of Venture Productions, and Patricia Briggs, director of JCC’s Weeks Gallery. 

The global script will be read by Vince Horrigan, Chautauqua County Executive; Virginia Horvath, SUNY Fredonia president; Lillian Ney; Marion Beckerink, Jackson Center development director; Marilyn Zagora, JCC vice president of academic affairs; Athanasia Landis, mayor of Fredonia; and Sister Joan Chittister, OSB of Erie, PA.

JCC student participants include Reasha Davis and Kalimah Jefferson, student senators and Black Student Union co-presidents, and Obehi Ejele, a first generation Nigerian-British international student.

Seven is inspiring,” said Horrigan. “This play shows how women (people) prevail. It’s the character, the fortitude that matters. It transcends gender.”

“I am impressed that the story of these seven remarkable women uses drama to elicit empathy and compassion and show how individual lives can make a difference,” Dr. Ney added.

During the past two years, a Chautauqua area script featuring the voices of area women who have overcome adversity and worked to effect change in their communities was developed. The women include Senada Alhodzic of the International Institute of Erie; Cassidy Fritsch, a SUNY Fredonia undergraduate; Sherri “Sam” Mason, SUNY Fredonia chemistry professor; Jenny Rowe of the Chautauqua County Mental Health Association; Grace Sam of Dunkirk; and Jamie Thompson, a Navy veteran.

“I have been moved by the stories of the local women,” said Dr. Briggs, who interviewed Jenny Rowe and Grace Sam. “They, and the other women who I have met for this project, have lived through difficult times and have grown to be strong and caring of others.”

Dr. Mason is willing to tell her story “because we can learn from others and how they overcame obstacles. You don’t want the fact that you are a victim to define you and your life.”

“I have been enormously gratified,” Dr. Briggs added, “that JCC student senators jumped at the opportunity to read the voices of global women.”

“This production demonstrates our community’s sense of social responsibility,” Sharon noted also.

For more information, contact Dr. Briggs at 338.1301.

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