Witness to Her Voice | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Witness to Her Voice 

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Witness to her voice, Footsteps Theatre Company. In celebration of Women's History Month, director Jean Adamak and a team of researchers undertook the daunting task of finding neglected texts that reveal the often-unrecorded perspective of women and assembling them into a theatrical presentation. Adamak has sought texts that highlight the emotional alliances and cycles of an ordinary woman's life, among them birth and the mother-daughter relationship. And with the exception of a 16th-century nun who dressed as a man to fight as a soldier and the testimony of an African-American graduate who walked into the wrath of integration in an Alabama school in the late 1940s, these strong, courageous women simply rose to the ordinary occasions of life.

Though Witness to Her Voice presents important information, it doesn't always succeed theatrically. Some of the material is simply too prosey for the stage, especially a section of letters written by a woman who died in Auschwitz and a girl who died in Bosnia; other scenes begin and end so quickly it's difficult to connect with the fleeting characters. Also problematic in what is supposed to be an overview is the focus on 19th- and 20th-century women, mostly of Western Europe and America. Choosing a specific time, place, or historical event might have helped to create a deeper piece of theater.

--Gabrielle S. Kaplan

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