A well-told story can silence a room, provoke a laugh or move a crowd to action. The stage documentary “SEVEN,” returning to Sacramento this weekend, aspires to do all three.
The no-frills show, which will be presented Sunday, Oct. 4, was written by seven playwrights who studied the stories of seven global women’s rights activists. The script reveals stories of human trafficking, domestic violence, educational barriers and other social obstacles in their home countries of Russia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Guatemala and Cambodia.
“Its message and the issues it raises are germane locally and globally,” said Claire Lipschultz of the National Council of Jewish Women Sacramento Section, which is hosting the show for the second time. “I really felt like it was something that needed to be brought to Sacramento.”
The women in the stories have faced many challenges, including rape, poverty and labor exploitation. But the characters share one thing in common: They all took action.
Marina Pisklakova-Parker founded the first hotline for victims of domestic violence in Russia. Farida Azizi traveled throughout Afghanistan, bringing medical aid to women marginalized under Taliban rule. Mu Sochua was nominated for a Nobel Prize for her work fighting sex trafficking during her time as Minister of Women’s Affairs in Cambodia.
The goal, said Lipschultz, is for audiences to harness the inspiration and take action locally. The council is partnering with more than a dozen local nonprofits whose missions center on human rights.
“People need to know it’s happening in Sacramento,” Lipschultz said. “It’s happening in our own backyard and it’s happening just beneath the surface, and people need to be aware.”
One of the features that makes the show so effective is its willingness to break the fourth wall, said Sacramento director Jan Ahders. The actors connect directly with the audience rather than interacting with other characters onstage, as in a standard play, she said. There is little in the way of set, choreography or special effects.
“This is the best of storytelling,” said Ahders. “Not only is it a story that’s true, it’s a story that is in the exact words of the person. … They’re talking to you, and you’re listening, and it moves you.”
One of the show’s playwrights, Paula Cizmar, will be on hand to talk about the show.
The production also will be staged Sunday, Oct. 18, at Veterans Memorial Theater in Davis to benefit Empower Yolo, an organization that provides resources to abused women and children.
Where: The Center at Twenty-Three Hundred, 2300 Sierra Blvd., Sacramento (Sunday, Oct. 4) and Veterans Memorial Theatre, 203 E. 14th St., Davis (Sunday, Oct. 18)
When: 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4; 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18