Upcoming Production of ‘SEVEN,’ at SUNY Fredonia



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State University of New York at Fredonia

“SEVEN,” the internationally acclaimed dramatization of global abuses against women, will be presented at the State University of New York at Fredonia and Jamestown Community College.

The Fredonia event is slated for Saturday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. in Rosch Recital Hall, with the JCC event on Friday, Oct. 14 at 6 p.m. in Scharmann Theatre.

The public is cordially invited and admission is free. A $20 suggested donation will help organizers to continue sharing the powerful influence of “SEVEN.”

Cast members for the staged readings of the landmark documentary play, which has already been presented across the United States and around the world – in 23 countries and in 20 languages – have been drawn from Fredonia and JCC. Many community leaders are also part of the cast.

“SEVEN” is produced by LakeArts Foundation of Dunkirk in association with Fredonia, Venture Productions and the Weeks Gallery at JCC. LakeArts Foundation and Venture Productions are clients at the Fredonia Technology Incubator.

“This production demonstrates our community’s sense of social responsibility,” said Fredonia Department of Theatre and Dance Professor Ted Sharon, who is directing the production.

The first act of “SEVEN” is an anthem to the bravery of seven women from seven different countries. Seven playwrights (Paula Cizmar, Catherine Filloux, Gail Kriegel, Carol K. Mack, Ruth Margraff, Anna Deavere Smith and Susan Yankowitz) composed seven monologues which are based on interviews of the women from the Vital Voices Global Partnership, who despite death threats and personal abuse, combatted sexual assault, domestic violence, sex trafficking and other abuses in their home countries of Afghanistan, Cambodia, Guatemala, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Pakistan and Russia.

The regional cast includes Fredonia President Virginia Horvath and Vice President for Student Affairs Cedric Howard, JCC Vice President for Academic Affairs Marilyn Zagora, Fredonia Associate Dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Director of Interdisciplinary Studies Carmen Rivera, Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan, JCC student senators and members of the JCC Black Student Union, Associate Director of Religion at Chautauqua Institution Maureen Rovegno, Jackson Center Development Director Marion Beckerink and Dr. Lillian V. Ney of Jamestown.

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

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

The second act, “SEVEN IN CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY,” is a staged reading of a new play featuring seven interwoven monologues of local women who have survived abuses and injustices and have gone on to become agents of change. The play brings awareness of the fight against human rights violations that exist not only globally but in this region.

Regional stories that make up the second act were compiled by Margaret Johnson, director of LakeArts Foundation, from interviews by Ms. Johnson; Patricia Briggs, director of Weeks Gallery at JCC; and Fredonia graduates Minju Kim and Caeli Faisst. Ms. Faisst also created the first draft of the regional script.

Cast members who will read their personal story include Sherri Mason, chair of the Department of Geology and Environmental Science at Fredonia; Jamie Thompson of Dunkirk; Fredonia senior Cassidy Fritsch; Senada Alihodzic of the International Institute of Erie, Pa., and Jenny Rowe of True Strength Ministries of Jamestown.

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

The “CHAUTAUQUA SEVEN” monologues of Sarom Heng, owner of Gong Gardens of Fredonia, and Grace Sam of A. Sam Farms of Dunkirk, will be read by students. At the Oct. 8 performance, Fredonia sophomore Mamiko Nakatsugawa will read the Heng monologue and Fredonia junior Michaela Tramuta will read the Sam monologue. JCC student Obehi Ejele will read the Sam monologue in the Oct. 14 production. Dr. Briggs, who is hosting the JCC production as a Weeks Gallery event, also interviewed Ms. Rowe and Ms. Sam.

The production is made possible through a grant from Cummins, Inc., a donation from the JCC Foundation, support and resources from Fredonia, Venture Productions, the Fredonia Technology Incubator, the Weeks Gallery and individual donors.

Community service organizations which helped identify the women of “SEVEN IN CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY” include: the American Association of University Women, United Way of Jamestown, Gateway Center, Mental Health Association, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Women 2 Women, Women and Girl’s Coalition, Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, Jamestown Salvation Army, Anew Center, the State University of New York at Fredonia, JCC student-run support groups, YWCA, Child Advocacy Program and International Institute of Erie.

For more information, contact Ms. Johnson at mjohnson123@roadrunner.com.