"With hurried steps these women flee from pain and discrimination. Inspired by real facts reported by Amnesty International, the text is a testimony, an accusation, a gesture of solidarity and acknowledgement of all those women who are still prisoners of a forced marriage, of a violent family, of a hustler, of tradition or of age-old discriminations which are so difficult to overcome." -- Dacia Maraini
Written by Dacia Maraini and directed by Nicolette Kay, Hurried Steps had its world premier at the Mill Studio in Guildford on Thursday evening.
The performance by New Shoes Theatre is based on eight Amnesty International cases of violence against women. As the director was to say after the performance, it matters not culture, class or country, the violence is the same. And so the little vignettes showed, whether it was cultural violence against women in Muslim or African countries, or violence against women in the West in a domestic situation, or violence against women who are trafficked as modern-day slaves, the violence is the same, whatever the situation, it is violence against women.
The performance was unusual. Instead of enacting the little scenes, the actors, three women and two men stood behind music stands, but this was to make the drama even more powerful. And powerful it was. It left one numb.
Dacia Maraini who wrote the play has been a feminist since the 1970s. She wished to bring to a wider audience violence against women, and this play was her means of doing so. She asks that a discussion takes place afterwards on the issues raised, and after a short break, a discussion took place led by the director Nicolette Kay, together with a lady from Amnesty International and a lady from a local support network.
I will not cite the figures here, but the statistics on violence against women is truly appalling. Equally appalling is that such violence is tolerated.
Hurried Steps is a very powerful and moving drama. If you get the chance to see the performance by New Shoes Theatre, please go as you will not regret it. New Shoes Theatre are currently on tour in the UK with Hurried Steps.
The performance was to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Amnesty International are running a Stop Violence Against Women campaign.
A couple of days before I saw Hurried Steps I had been notified by Paulo Coelho of the launch by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the tenth anniversary of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (24 November 2009) of the UN network of men leaders to combat violence against women. The network brings together politicians, activists, religious and community leaders. Member of the network include Brazilian writer and UN Messenger of Peace Paulo Coelho and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
The next Amnesty event in Guildford will be a play on political prisoners at the Electric Theatre on Monday 14 December 2009.