8567 Coral Way #355
Miami, FL 33155
Cultural Arts Center
10950 SW 211 Street
Cutler Bay, FL 33189
I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady From Rwanda by Sonja Linden
February 22 to March 18, 2007
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Set Designer: Rob Eastman-Mullins
Costume Designer: K. Blair Brown
Sound Designer: Clint Hooper*
Lighting Designer: Patrick Tennent
Set Construction: TLC Events Group
Production Stage Manager: Betsy Paull-Rick*
Directed by James Samuel Randolph*
John van Dalen* - Simon
Tara Vodihn* - Juliette
* members of Actors' Equity Association
This is the story of the relationship between Simon, a struggling writer and Juliette, a young survivor of an African civil war.
In an effort to come to terms with the past, Juliette comes to Simon seeking help with a book she wants to write.
Notes from the Playwright Sonja Linden, September 2004
Shortly after I started working with clients of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, I met a young woman from Rwanda, whose 'impulse' to write had started in a refugee camp shortly after the murder of her entire family. What started out as a testimonial act, the writing out of her family's experience of genocide, became in addition an act of healing, as a result of which she reported that she felt 'clean' and that her nightmares and headaches had ceased. For two and a half years she had worked on this book on her own, writing in her mother tongue and wrestling day after day with her enormously painful story, often tearing up the previous day's work at 5 o' clock in the morning, when she started her daily writing. Even while she was immersed in the process of writing her book, she recognised its therapeutic value, talking about writing in order to take the pain " away from my heart".
The healing she achieved was done at enormous cost, since it meant confronting and expressing with full force the negative emotions that overwhelmed her in the years following the genocide. So inspired was I by her story, that when I came to write something of my own, as part of my writing residency, it was infused with her spirit and her struggle to write. I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady from Rwanda tells the story of an uneasy relationship between Simon, a struggling British poet in his mid forties and Juliette, a young survivor of the Rwandan genocide, who comes to him for help with her book. My challenge as a playwright was to transform this into a piece of theatre that would engage an audience. Humour, remarkably, became an important component, to create a sense of balance and draw the audience in, humour largely drawn from the cultural divide between the Englishman and the young African woman. It is this aspect of the play as well as Juliette's plight and feistiness that audiences have most remarked upon.
As the daughter of refugees from Nazi Germany, I have felt all the more compelled to draw attention to this appalling late chapter in twentieth century history,
a chapter that has such strong parallels with the Final Solution. Tragically, as I write this, a new genocide threatens in Western Sudan, transgressing once more the idealism of the post-Holocaust slogan of 'Never Again'.
Sonja Linden is an award-winning playwright, whose plays have been produced in London and in regional theatres in the UK as well as in the United States and Australia. The London productions include Call Me Judas, The Jewish Daughter, sequel to Brecht's The Jewish Wife, and The Strange Passenger. I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady from Rwanda was written in response to her encounters with a number of young Rwandan refugees at the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, where she was a writer in residence from 1997-2004. Here she set up the Write to Life Project, a creative and testimonial writing program offering clients of the Foundation the opportunity to discharge their painful experiences of persecution and exile through the act of writing. Her concern to make these voices public led to her founding iceandfire theatre company, of which she is currently the artistic director. Born out of the urgent need to give a platform to dispossessed voices, the company was launched in 2003 with the highly successful London premiere of Young Lady from Rwanda. The play was subsequently adapted for BBC World Service Radio Drama and in 2004 it went on a six week Arts Council funded national tour. Young Lady from Rwanda received its American premiere at the Missouri Repertory Theatre in April 2005, since which time it has been produced by a number of American theatres including the Milwaukee Rep, Washington's African Continuum Theater and the 6th@Penn Theatre, San Diego. It premiered in Dublin in September 2005. Sonja's second play for iceandfire was inspired by the writings of five of her clients at the Medical Foundation, with the central story focussing on the real life experiences of a recent refugee from Darfur in Western Sudan. Crocodile Seeking Refuge had its London premiere at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith in the autumn of 2005 and will tour the UK in 2006. More information about Sonja's work can be found on www.iceandfire.co.uk
John van Dalen (Simon) is originally from Amsterdam. He lived in Toronto, Los Angeles and New York and has been in Florida for the past 19 years. He is a member of Actors Equity, SAG and AFTRA. John's stage credits include 1776, The Elephant Man, It Had to Be You, The Music Man, A Few Good Men, Early One Evening at the Rainbow Bar & Grill, Velveteen Undertow and The Deadly Game. While in California, John appeared in TV series including Casablanca, starring David Soul and Bring 'em Back Alive, starring Bruce Boxleitner, Young and the Restless, Santa Barbara and Capitol. Although John's passion is acting, he has tried some other off-beat stunts: A few years ago John took a flying leap out of an airplane at 13,500 feet. The exhilaration of that experience can only be matched by being on stage in front of a live audience. Then, John took up scuba diving. Now, he is looking for his next exhilarating adventure.
Tara Vodihn (Juliette) marks her tenth New Theatre appearance with this production! As always, she is so pleased to work with people who are wonderful artists, as well as wonderful friends. Who could ask for more? She hopes that this production will encourage everyone to give a little more thought to what is going on in the world around us. For information about current events in Darfur please visit www.savedarfur.org. She wishes to thank all of the people who have encouraged her to tackle this role. It really means a lot. And special thanks to her husband and best friend, Fred.
Betsy Paull-Rick (Production Stage Manager) is pleased to return to New Theatre after serving as PSM for over 20 consecutive productions at the Mosaic Theatre
in Plantation. No stranger to the other side of the footlights, South Florida audiences may remember her as Judy in A Chorus Line, Jeanne in Hair, Tiny Tim
in Scrooge, or Diane in 42nd Street, among others. Recent directing and choreography credits include Hair and Fanny & Sadie, both at the
Tamarac Theatre. Betsy is the proud recipient of a Curtain Up Award nomination for Best Choreography for A New Brain, the Musical. She is a graduate of Wayne State
University, a former member of the Detroit Dance Collective, and has also worked locally for Hollywood Playhouse, The Public Theatre of South Florida, Theatre Illuminata,
and Broadway Arts Productions.