Rebecca Johannsen Returns To San Diego CSU San Marcos
In a unique collaboration with CSU San Marcos, theatre artist and educator Rebecca Johannsen returns to San Diego to present her moving and powerful exploration of female soldiers. Women at War is devised from Johannsen's interviews conducted with the US Army's Female Engagement Team (FET) Unit, deployed to Afghanistan from 2012-2013. The unit's mission was to engage with the local female Afghan population to build relationships and gather intelligence. They often found themselves in combat zones before women were legally allowed in combat, and received intensive physical training to prepare for the mission. The production runs November 7-10. Talk-backs will follow each production in collaboration with CSUSM Veteran's Center.
The play uses verbatim interviews, movement, poetry, and visual art to explore the connections between the women in the military and the women of Afghanistan. Conceived seven years ago, the piece has been staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and in London as party of the Women and War: EXODUS Festival. It also received a staged reading in 2017 at San Diego's Ion Theatre. This is the first full cast production and features 4 area students from CSU San Marcos and Palomar College. Thanks to a grant from CSUSM, these students will have a unique opportunity to train, learn and collaboration with a professional team of theatre artists.
"At CSUSM Theatre, students develop a global perspective of performance, cultural histories and ethnic identities in order to transform the way they think about the world, explained Judy Bauerlein, Associate Professor of Theatre "Project based learning methods encourage students to be active participants in the learning process and provide the conceptual and technological tools for students to create original work."
"The soldiers I interviewed were all from incredibly diverse backgrounds and experiences. It was important to me to bring together a cast that reflected that diversity. It's an honor to be working alongside these brilliant student performers, who have a wealth of their own experience to bring to these roles. Playing characters based on real people is never an easy task, but these women are up the challenge," explained Johannsen.
Johannsen is the former Artistic Director for Stone Soup Theatre Company, which brought notable productions of Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden, Sarah Kane's 4.48 psychosis (Johannsen's directorial debut), and Jonathan Larson's tick, tick...BOOM! to San Diego. After successfully teaching for 6 years at NYU's Tisch Drama Department and co-producing playwright Erik Ehn's epic collection Soulographie: Our Genocides at La MaMa in New York City, Dr. Johannsen decided to pursue this project full time. She now splits her time between San Diego and London, where she is active in the Young Vic's Director's Programme and directed intensives at the Young Vic and Shakespeare's Globe. A segment of Women at War was presented for development at the Young Vic Theatre's Freshworks Programme, an opportunity provided to promising new plays to gain feedback from Young Vic directors. It was also selected as a finalist for the LET Award, a UK-based award to help a promising new play get to Edinburgh. A performance of a segment of the play was performed as part of the award showcase. It was also Longlisted for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award at Fringe.
Exploring the voices of several soldiers interviewed, the play considers the nature of trauma, conflict, and misogyny both, in the first and third world. It asks questions like: What happens when women engage in combat? Does it change the way we engage in conflict? What does it uncover about expected gender roles? How does it impact men and women deployed to a part of the world where women have no voice?
The internationally renowned creative team includes co-director John Moletress, artistic director of force/collision in Washington D.C., whose work has been seen at The Kennedy Center, La MaMa ETC, Arena Stage, New Dramatists, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company; choreographer Verónica Santiago Moniello (MFA, UCSD), who has danced and choreographed for major companies in Venezuela, Mexico, Spain, and in Germany for Pina Bausch; Mayou Trikerioti (sets and costume) has designed for the National Theatre of Greece and the Young Vic, as well as for film and TV, including True Detective, Homeland, and Dark Crimes starring Jim Carrey; and projection designer Ela Boyd (MFA, UCSD), an installation and light artist whose work has been exhibited throughout California, New York, Italy, and Quebec. They will collaborate with local sound designer Matt Warburton and lighting designer Hannah Beerfas.
Women at War is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Women at War must be made payable to Fractured Atlas only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. For more information visit www.fracturedatlas.org.