“I want people to leave this show like really mad,” says Last Act Theater Company artistic director Rachel Steed. “Mad that this is the current state of the world.”
The show she’s taking about is Seven, a “documentary play” conceived by Carol Mack and written by seven female playwrights about seven real women who have been working to fight injustice in seven different countries in the world.
“All but one are still living currently and still working currently,” Steed says. “And they’re stories of how they’ve fought for human rights and equal rights for women and children and education and human rights in general. The work that they’re doing is really, really important and inspiring so we just felt it was timely.”
The women that are featured in Seven – Marina Pisklakova-Parker of Russia, Mu Sochua of Cambodia, Anabella De Leon of Guatemala, Inez McCormack of Northern Ireland, Farida Azizi of Afghanistan, Hafsat Abiola of Nigeria, and Mukhtar Mai of Pakistan – have been working independently to battle injustice, domestic violence, human trafficking, and myriad other issues for decades. With the exception of McCormack, who passed away in 2013, they’re all still fighting the good fight today.
“I’m playing “Marina Pisklakova-Parker,” says actor Kate Meehan. When Pisklakova-Parker was working at the Institute for Socioeconomic Studies of the Population in Russia, she realized that there was no discussion of domestic violence in that country. “They didn’t have even language to describe it,” Meehan says. “At the time, it was something that was sort of expected out of the culture. So she started the first domestic violence crisis hotline and crisis center for women [in Russia].”
Meehan says she’s been watching videos of Pisklakova-Parker “obsessively” to create her performance. The challenge, she says, is to take what she’s seen of Pisklakova-Parker when she’s poised and eloquent, speaking to an audience, and then try to imagine what she might sound like when she’s more candid and more angry.
“So it’s interesting,” Meehan says. “Because the feel for all of these has kind of a kitchen table feel. The kind of conversation that all women have had at some point with a friend going through something over a bottle of wine, which makes it very immediate and very personal.”
Steed says that she wants audiences to feel a sense of optimism at the end of the play – she says she and the cast take some comfort and find some hope “knowing that these women are out there, actually still actively working.”
But she also wants the audience to get angry. “I want people to leave this and be mad that this is still happening. And I want them to take action. And you don’t have to dedicate your entire life to it the way these women have, but I think it’s very easy to be like ‘I can’t do everything so I should do nothing.’ And I want people to leave this show thinking, ‘I’ve got to do something.’”