Monday, March 05, 2012

Women Say Enough!: Haiti Update 1

Anna, Christina, and Josh are in Port-au-Prince with FAVILEK to create a new show about the earthquake, the aftermath, and the reality for Haitian women.

Bon soir de Ayiti!  La tout se yon bon bagay!  N'ap fe bel travay avek fanm Favilek!  And as you can see my Kreyol is coming along nicely.  And good thing since the women tell me "you must learn to speak Kreyol" and are excited when I do.  Both Christina and I can handle basic conversation.  One word we have learned is 'kadejak.' It means rape. This word may not normally be considered part of daily basic conversation, but sadly, for women in Haiti it is. We are working with the group Favilek to create a show about gender violence which is rampant in this country.

These women have such a strong spirit. It is hard to imagine them as victims. (Favilek -- Women Victims Get Up Stand Up -- is an organization of women who are all survivors of sexual violence). But as they expressed in their own words: they may bend us, but they cannot break us; we stumble, but we will not fall. As an assignment after our first meeting and discussion, we told them to come up with something related to the themes we had explored: justice, change, improving life for women.  A piece of text, a song, a movement. The poems they came up with are fierce and their energy passionate, indeed militant: Women say enough!  For a long time we have been walking with our hands hanging. We demand justice! And then they break into song, a rhythmic catchy tune: Men have sowed the seed of violence, but we ask that violence be replaced with love!  We are Favilek: Fanm Viktim Leve Kanpe!

We've been working intensively and things are starting to take shape.  The first days we really focused on building performing skills through workshops -- presence on stage, exploring different levels of energy, grounding the body, character and expression.  And then exploring the theme for the show through movement and storytelling exercises.  We are now sculpting the show.  This is drawn from the various things the women have come up with during the exercises of the week, including their very first assignment.  Our team then brainstorms on all the elements and we make suggestions, inspired by what the women have given us, to shape a composition.

The past week and a half has been amazing.  We have such a wonderful connection with the women of Favilek.  Our return was received with great enthusiasm and joy and we are enjoying a truly lovely camaraderie and mutual appreciation for each other and the work.

We're also going about town and meeting all kinds of interesting people.  While at the street food night market feasting on barbecued chicken, plaintains and spaghetti juice (don't ask), we ran into the legendary Haitian actor Pe Toma.  All thanks to Morlon, our Haitian artist collaborator-translator-social butterfly and great connector, who knows everybody and if he doesn't he soon will.  Petoma came to visit our rehearsals and all the women were very excited because he is very famous.  Today we paid a visit to him and appeared on National Haitian Television!   So soon we will be famous too.

That's all for now.  My time here is coming to an end, I return Tuesday.  It's been a short and sweet and intense journey for me. The rest of the team is staying through March 16 to facilitate the performances the Favilek women will do around Port-au-Prince.  Stay tuned!

Na we tale!

No comments: