Marquette Wire

Theatre honors peace activists

Photo by Maryam Tunio

Photo by Maryam Tunio

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“Most Dangerous Women,” a staged reading and musical production about female peace activists from World War I to today, will be shown in the Helfaer Theatre April 22 – 24 at 7:30 p.m.

Eight student actresses as well as four professionals will perform in the show. Marquette’s Theatre Arts Department collaborated with the Milwaukee Public Theatre and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom for the production. Regular tickets are $10 and $5 for students.

Debra Krajec, artistic associate professor in the College of Communication and director of “Most Dangerous Women,” said the show will follow a timeline through history and will draw directly from the women’s letters, speeches, writings, testimonies, poems, diaries and newspaper headlines.

“It includes women from all over the world who do not think that the best way to solve our problems is to kill each other,” Krajec said. The play focuses on women trying to find peaceful ways to settle the world’s differences.

Historical events covered in the production include WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Middle East conflict and today’s suicide bombings.

“This play is different in that there is not a lot of interaction between the people,” Krajec said. “When you actually hear them talking about how many millions and millions of people have been killed through war and genocide, it’s really kind of sobering.”

Although the show focuses on serious and dark topics, there are some lighter scenes as well. Krajec said there will be beautiful songs by very talented women.

The playwright Jan Maher, the actresses and Krajec will be on stage after each scene allowing audience members to ask questions or make comments on the topics presented.

Krajec said she is excited to see the audience’s reactions and educate them about subjects.

“When I was first approached about this show, I didn’t know anything about most of the women in this play,” Krajec said. “I’ve never heard of them before.”

Krajec said it was nice that Marquette Theatre Arts collaborated with Milwaukee Public Theatre. This made for a range of actresses from an 18-year-old student to an actress in her 70s. The older actresses served as references and shared their experiences with the students.

Barbara Leigh, the producing director of Milwaukee Public Theatre and the producer of Most Dangerous Women, agrees with Krajec and said it has been a wonderful experience working with Marquette Theatre Arts for the first time. She added the show is really inspiring.

“There’s so much talk about war and there’s all these documentaries on the various wars, but you don’t talk about the people who are working for peace,” Leigh said.

Anna Otto, a junior in the College of Communication and an actress in the show, said all of the actresses split up the parts evenly, but all tell the story of at least one main woman in the show. She plays a wife of a man who died in the 9/11 attacks.

Krajec said the women’s activist group, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, was formed when many young men went to war, died and left their families behind.

“I don’t mean to say that men don’t have this connection, but it seems kind of natural for women to connect to saying, ‘I love this person. I don’t want them to die’,” Krajec said.

The importance of each part is to tell the individual stories of women from all over the world to portray one main message.

Aileen O’Carroll, also a junior in the College of Communication, said that the fact that “Most Dangerous Women” was a staged reading drew her attention.

“It’s something we don’t do a lot around Marquette,” O’Carroll said.

She was also interested in promoting the celebration of women through Helfaer’s “Celebrating Strong Women” season and working with professional guest artists.

O’Carroll is excited about bringing issues that people of color face to light.

“A couple of my characters are classes of people that don’t really get a voice normally,” O’Carroll said.

She speaks for a Native American character and sings a song called “No More Genocide” in different parts of the production. O’Carroll said she thinks it’s very powerful and notices as a society we don’t bring these awful issues up because of how difficult it is to talk about them.

Otto is excited to start performing this show.

“Usually when I think of a staged reading, I think of people sitting and not doing anything, and that’s definitely not what this is,” Otto said. “It’s fun in an educational way. (As an audience member) you’ll feel like you’re in the Congress meetings and things like that.”

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