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The Way She Spoke

By: Eliana Buenrostro

My work as community educator for Mujeres Latinas en Acción has me cross paths with many people whose work and beliefs align with the mission of the organization. It was a privilege to speak at the post show talkback for the play, The Way She Spoke on June 30th at the Greenhouse Theater in Lincoln Park.

The Way She Spoke is a play that elevates the stories of the victims of femicide in the Mexican city of Juarez. It was written by Isaac Gomez and performed solo by Karen Rodriguez. Gomez wrote the play after conducting hours of interviews with the families of murdered and mutilated women in Ciudad Juarez. The play is an absolutely immersive experience. It takes you to the core of the violence and the misogyny that disappears and tortures women without any recourse or justice. Multiple audience members commented that they felt physically drained by the end of the play. During the talkback, the playwright learned that one of the people he had spoken with in Ciudad Juarez had been murdered recently. It was a heavy experience and one that didn’t end when the metaphorical curtain closed.

Gomez and Rodriguez heavily discussed white privilege and male privilege and how that makes people complicit in the violence that women experience. An audience member wanted to know at what point one can absolve themselves of the guilt of surviving violence or never being a target of violence. Gomez and Rodriguez both emphasized that one can never forget the violence, one can never be absolved. We must always continue to learn, unlearn, and do the hard work that it takes to be an ally. It was an intimate and powerful post show discussion on the systems that allow this violence to continue with no impunity. The play captures the emotions and consequences for the families as well as the state of constant danger that the women living in Juarez must navigate every moment of their lives. At one point in the play, a character says she has never taken out the trash unaccompanied by a man in her entire life. This is the fear that the women of Juarez live with day to day. It doesn’t end when the play is over. It doesn’t end when the audience walks out of the theater. It doesn’t end when we forget that it is still taking place and that women live in a state of terror.

At Mujeres Latinas en Acción, our sexual assault program is one approach to combating the violence that women encounter at home in Chicago. For years we have provided women and their families with a space to heal from the trauma and a path to empowerment. We have opportunities for people to join the fight to end sexual violence as a medical advocate volunteer. In this role, volunteers assist and support survivors of rape and sexual assault. There is so much need for these services, particularly bilingual services.

July 19, 2016 | 1:32 PM