When: December 2, 2015
Reception from 6:30-7:30pm
Play begins at 7:30pm and is followed by a panel discussion
Where: Founder's Hall Auditorium
George Mason University
3351 N Fairfax Dr. Arlington, Virginia 22201
Free and open to the public
By Karin Orr, Ph.D. Student
School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, GMU
"I was blindfolded. They tied my hands and beat me over my head. I thought they were going to kill me. They took me away," says Neda (performed by Karen Lawrence), a young woman desperate to seek asylum from a country where her village has been pillaged, her loved ones killed and her personal safety severely violated. "Neda Wants to Die" is a graphic one-act 75-minute play about the brutality of gender-based violence in a conflict zone.
S-CAR's Center for the Study of Gender and Conflict is hosting the performance, scheduled for Wednesday, December 2nd, 6:30PM, at George Mason University Founders Hall. The performance will begin with a reception and will be followed by a panel discussion.
Though imbued with undertones of taking place in the Middle East, "Neda" was written to be adaptable to any war-torn country. Writer and director, Mr. Luigi Laraia explains, "I wanted to write a play that tells "that" typical story of gender-based violence. The one that you hear on the news, time and time again, and yet it still doesn't feel real, or even humanly possible - unless it's sitting right in front of you. And that's just it, a story told too many times but by new victims, new eyewitnesses, and unfortunately, from new and unsuspected places."
"Neda Wants to Die" was commissioned by the World Bank as part of a three-day art exhibition, "One in Three", designed by the Art Curator of the World Bank, Ms. Marina Galvani. The exhibition was organized to raise awareness on the epidemic of gender-based violence world-wide. The play's main character, Neda, represents the "one in three" women who experience physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime. UNFPA's website states that, "gender-based violence undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence." In "Neda", the only hope its characters have to escape violence, is by breaking that silence and telling their story to John Leighly (performed by Richard Tanenbaum), a fatigued UNHRC Case Officer beset by secondary trauma. Laraia says, "The stories that unfold in "Neda" are applicable to any country, and yet the prevalence of them should be enough to know that we have to put an end to this violence, before they can be told again, from new victims."
Since its premiere in July 2014, Neda has performed at the United Nations in New York, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Vital Voices, and Capital Fringe Fest 2015, in Washington, DC, and internationally at the United Nations and the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Kenya. "Neda Wants to Die" received a 5-star Best of the 2015 Capital Fringe rating from DC Metro Theatre Arts.
The play will be followed by a panel discussion with the playwright Mr. Luigi Laraia, GMU professors Dr. Sandra Cheldelin and Dr. Sara Cobb from the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, and
S-CAR MSc student, Ms. Kashoro Nyenyezi.
Though undoubtedly difficult to watch, "Neda Wants to Die" draws the curtain on gender-based violence and brings it center stage. So, don't be in the dark on this one - unless it's in the theater.