Every woman has a story. They may range from condescending put-downs and sexist comments to sexual harassment and rape, but every woman has experienced it.
Charlotte Meehan, artistic director at Sleeping Weazel, set out to gather some of those stories in interviews with nearly three dozen women, which became the documentary-style play “The Audacity: Women Speak,” which plays at Nicholas Martin Hall upstairs in the Calderwood Pavilion March 28-30 and April 4-6.
“I deliberately reached out to a broad population — young, old, different ethnicities and experiences,” says Meehan. “When putting the pieces together, like a jigsaw puzzle, I tried to capture the anger and the anguish, the frustration and fear, too.”
She interviewed college professors, executives, students, and women just starting out in their careers but decided not to use their names. While the contributors are listed in the program, she says, no one will be connected to their own piece. The seven actors who perform “The Audacity” are simply identified as “One” through “Seven.”
“Details kept repeating themselves, no matter who was telling the story,” says Meehan. “We are a collective body, and all of these things have happened to all of us.”
Meehan worked with videographer and sound designer Elliott Mazzola to allow other women’s voices and images to appear onscreen behind the actors onstage, and with director Tara Brooke Watkins (“The Bible Women’s Project”).
“Theater is the perfect venue to air this truth,” says Meehan. “Talking about mistreatment and assault is so tied up with shame and the feeling that it’s our own fault, it’s the last taboo. But theater is that safe space where we can bear witness and feel catharsis.”
The dramatic structure of the piece allows for a range of emotions, but Meehan is adamant that she does not want this to feel like a harangue or an assault on the audience.
“I hope that all the women who contributed their stories and everyone in the audience feels validated and buoyed knowing they aren’t alone,” she says. “I also hope that hearing these stories onstage will help people believe women when they tell these stories at home and at work.”
Broadway staging for ‘Indecent’
The Huntington Theatre will stage the remounting of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel’s “Indecent” April 26-May 25. Inspired by the real-life drama surrounding the 1923 Broadway debut of Sholem Asch’s “God of Vengeance,” “Indecent” is a love letter to the theater and its ability to push boundaries while celebrating the complexity of human experience.
Asch’s play followed a brothel owner whose daughter falls in love with one of his “employees.” The play had successful productions in Berlin and across Europe in its original Yiddish, before heading to New York. After a successful downtown production, the show was translated to English for the move to Broadway, and significant changes were made to the text, but the show was labeled indecent for the love story of two women, and the entire cast was charged with obscenity. In Vogel’s retelling, directed by Rebecca Taichman, who earned a Tony Award for her work, the story becomes one of backstage drama, censorship, and a celebration of the power of theater.
A co-production with Center Theatre Group of Los Angeles, “Indecent” will be presented at the Huntington Avenue Theatre with many members of the original Broadway cast, including Mimi Lieber, Steven Rattazzi, Richard Topol, and Adina Verson. Tickets start at $25 and are available at 617-266-0800, www.huntingtontheatre
Expert insights on ‘Photograph 51’
The Nora Theatre Company’s revival of “Photograph 51,” Anna Ziegler’s compelling drama about the search for the double-helix structure of DNA, will feature a “Scholar Social” with Dr. Donald Caspar, the inspiration for a principal character in the play, after Sunday’s 2 p.m. performance at the Central Square Theater in Cambridge.
Ziegler structures “Photograph 51” as a kind of thriller, in which long-overlooked British biophysicist Rosalind Franklin emerges as the creator of the “photograph 51” that became the basis for the hypothesis that earned James Watkins, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins the 1962 Nobel Prize, a prize they never shared with Franklin nor acknowledged her pivotal contribution.
Dr. Caspar worked with Dr. Franklin early in his career as a structural biologist, and played an important role in DNA mapping. Tickets $16-$60, 617-576-9278, www.centralsquare
William Mastrosimone’s 1982 play “Extremities” explores the obstacles victims of sexual assault face when they try to seek justice. Nearly 40 years later, Also Known As Theatre presents a new production that shines a light on how little that has changed. The production runs March 28-April 13 in Margaret Jewett Hall at First Church in Harvard Square. Post-show conversations after Friday night performances include “Crafting Artful Violence” with fight choreographer Jessica Scout Malone (March 29), “Survivor Resource Discussion” with representatives from the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (April 5), and “Local Advocacy” with representatives from the Cambridge Women’s Commission (April 12). Tickets $22, www.bit.ly/aka
The Audacity: Women Speak
Presented by Sleeping Weazel. At Nicholas Martin Hall, Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts, March 28-April 6. Tickets $15-$25, 617-933-8600, www.bostontheatrescene.com
Terry Byrne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.