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Duke Ellington School of the Arts Aftermath II: The Silence Soldiers: Breaking the Appearance of Delicacy

By • Mar 23rd, 2010 • Category: Cappies

Aftermath II: The Silence Soldiers: Breaking the Appearance of Delicacy is an original play by students from Duke Ellington School of the Arts about the pain and suffering of women all around the world. It is a collection of “scenes, monologues, speeches, musings, rants and raves,” according to the director, about everything from women in religion to prostitution to rape and abuse to gender inequality, even within the United States. What was produced was a stunning production that pushed both the actors and the audience far out of their comfort zone.

The piece was ensemble-oriented, and very much played like a sort of Chautauqua at times, with someone speaking and the rest of the ensemble, who sat on chairs surrounding the central stage, reacting. But some pieces were genuinely stories, and with very able story tellers. In the play “Lita,” by Aleca Piper, a girl recounts the day that her genitals were ceremoniously mutilated by her father. Piper, in the title role, was heart wrenching, tears pouring down her face as she spoke, conveying the horror and pain with singular beauty. “Sakina and Katie,” a play about two women who had acid thrown onto their faces, was a very moving piece in which Hannah Goldman and Danielle Miller made the audience feel their pain, screaming, crying, pleading for it to stop and for their mothers, explaining the aftermath, and the injustice and inequality that accompanied it. And Derrica Kerney as the title role in “Shoshanna Speaks” conveyed terror and uncertainty and injustice within our own military.

Playwriting is a very difficult art, because you have to strike a balance between words and emotions, making it neither too wordy nor too sparse, neither too quiet nor too over the top. The students of Duke Ellington demonstrated this balance well, creating compelling characters and lovely descriptions, and writing lectures that weren’t too preachy, yet drove the point home. In “The Bitch Asked for It,” Cienna Rose took on the issue of gang rape in the U.S., looking at it from several perspectives, including that of a Blood gang member, a News Anchor, a Victim, and a Husband. “Day and Night” by Billie Krishawn-Holmes, explored sex, alternating between Day, a girl who chose to have sex, and Night, a girl who was raped. She almost played with her characters, having them both describe the night and the moon, switching off, describing their views, either struck with beauty or terrified for life. And “For Sarah,” a speech on being an African American woman by Keziah John-Paul, was empowering but not overwhelming, choosing to question rather than declare.

The actors and actresses in this play commanded their audience to sit up and listen. This was no Saturday afternoon distraction, but a calling. The ensemble showed us what was happening now, all around the world, to women. They did so with grace and strength, telling us terrible tales, but never losing sight of the idea the battle in the 21st century is the fight to make men and women equal.

Review submitted by Nora Spellane of Woodrow Wilson Senior High School.

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