Know Theatre of Cincinnati Presents THE AFGHAN WOMEN'S WRITING PROJECT, 3/8-11
Know Theatre announces its next mainstage production, the Afghan Women's Writing Project (AWWP). Know Theatre commissioned playwrights ElizaBeth Martin & Lauren Hynek to curate a performance piece from the writings available on the project website (www.awwproject.org). Ms. Martin & Ms. Hynek will also co-direct the piece. The staged reading will show March 8 – March 11, 2012. Following the Friday, March 9 performance, Executive Director Elizabeth Lehr of The Afghan Women's Writing Project will lead a post-show discussion.
AWWP's mission is to empower Afghan women to share their voices with the world. Despite deteriorating security, women determined to tell their own stories gather online and in "writing huts" in undisclosed locations in Kabul and Herat to receive mentoring from American women authors and professors, and to participate in writing workshops and reading salons. AWWP's online magazine is the vehicle through which their stories are shared. The project also aims to promote greater economic independence for these women by strengthening their self-confidence, computer literacy and writing skills, and to encourage the inclusion of women's voices in Afghanistan's national dialogue. The project reaches out to women author/teachers here in the United States and engages them, on a volunteer, rotating basis, to teach Afghan women online from Afghanistan. The goal of the project is to encourage the women to develop their voices and share their stories, something that was not permitted during the years when Afghanistan was Taliban-held.
"When I stumbled upon a review of the first staged performance of these pieces I was intrigued by the concept," says Producing Artistic Director, Eric Vosmeier. "Once I spent some time on the site, I knew I wanted our audiences to hear these women. The stories are touching and horrifying, funny and thoughtful. They are inspiring in so many ways. And when you realize that some of the writers put their lives in danger just to write, let alone to find a way to upload their stories to the site, you know that these stories deserve to be heard by as many people as possible."
In 2010, the Afghan Women's Writing Project held two readings of poems and stories by these Afghan women writers: the first in Los Angeles on March 8th and the second in Washington, D.C., on May 24th.
Know Theatre Partners with Women Writing for a Change and Women Helping Women for this production and will be scheduling special post-show discussions with these groups after select performances. More information coming soon.
This season, tickets are $15 in advance and $18 the week of the performance (beginning Mondays at noon). Season subscription five-show flexible passes are available for $75 and guarantees the advance ticket price all season long. Tickets can be purchased by visiting knowtheatre.com or by calling the box office at 513.300.KNOW (5669)
8 pm: March 8, 9, 10
3 pm: March 11
The Afghan Women's Writing Project began as an idea during novelist Masha Hamilton's last trip to Afghanistan in November 2008. Masha first visited the country in 2004, and was awed and inspired by the resolute courage of the women she met. When she returned, she saw doors were closing and life was again becoming more difficult, especially for women. She began to fear we could lose access to the voices of Afghan women if we didn't act soon. The Afghan Women's Writing Project is aimed at allowing Afghan women to have a direct voice in the world, not filtered through male relatives or members of the media. Many of these Afghan women have to make extreme efforts to gain computer access in order to secretly submit their writings, in English, to the project.
Elisabeth Lehr, Acting Executive Director of Afghan Women's Writing Project, is a college history instructor and writer. She brings to the AWWP extensive management experience in higher education, the creative arts, and non-profit organization, along with in-depth knowledge and respect of Afghan history and culture, and a passion for women's words. Elisabeth began her association with AWWP as Workshop Director in February 2010, and completely overhauled and updated the workshop portal. In August 2011 she moved to the position of Associate Director and became Acting Executive Director in December 2011.
Women Writing for a Change was founded by Mary Pierce Brosmer in 1991. A former English teacher and practicing poet, Mary gathered a group of fifteen women for a weekly writing class, using circle practices, establishing confidentiality, and creating a safe space for honest feedback. Growth has been organic, coming from within the lives of the founder, staff, faculty members, and the countless women, men and girls who have attended classes. If you need a welcoming environment where you can process your thoughts and feelings as you adapt to the changing world around you, join Women Writing for a Change. They'll help you tell your story – the story of what it's like to be you. For more than twenty years, they've created a safe space for men, women and girls of all ages to find their voices, celebrate their stories, and create positive change for themselves. They empower individuals to tell their stories by fostering creativity, self-discovery and artistic expression through the art of writing and the creation of community.
Women Helping Women has been empowering women and men in our community to prevail over violence and abuse since 1973. They serve Southwestern Ohio as a unique provider of crisis intervention and support services for direct and indirect survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking and takes a leading role in educating the community to promote awareness and help prevent these types of abuse. It is the only 24-hour rape crisis program and comprehensive non-shelter domestic violence program in Hamilton County. They provide free confidential services to over 12,000 people each year. Women Helping Women recognizes that those who experience abuse and assault are not helpless victims of crime. They are strong, determined individuals who persevere in the face of violence. They are people who do what is needed to survive abuse and make it to the next day; a day that could be a time when they reach out for help.