Diverse Works Director's 'Disappeared' delves into troubles of Central America

August 08, 1991|By Winifred Walsh | Winifred Walsh,Evening Sun Staff

WOMEN caught up in the horrors of police terrorism in Central America tell their stories of missing loved ones in a series of powerful monologues delivered with anguished eloquence in a new theater piece created especially for Diverse Works, Maryland Art Place's annual performing arts program.

"Disappeared," the product of a three-week residency, is the work of nationally recognized director Kaia Calhoun and local actors. It will be staged at Theatre Project tomorrow through Sunday as will the works of choreographer Marta Renzi and performance/visual artist Jonas dos Santos.

Calhoun, who lives in Washington, earned her bachelor of fine arts degree in theater arts at New York University and has taught at the Baltimore School for the Arts, Morgan State University and Towson State University.

The artist has also directed numerous contemporary and traditional plays in the mid-Atlantic area. Her professional acting career includes roles with the New York Shakespeare Festival, The Folger Theater in Washington, D.C., and Arena Stage's Living Stage Company in Washington, D.C.

In 1990 the actress garnered a Helen Hayes Award for her supporting role in "Heathen Valley" produced by the Round House Theatre.

"As a director I am finding myself thrust into new works . . . oral traditions . . . liturgical dramas," Calhoun said during a break in the intensive rehearsal schedule at the Project. "This current work is threaded with abstract imagery and strong physical movement."

Ensemble members -- Teresa Altoz, Risa Cohen, Luis Flores, Philippa Hailstone, Brooke Johnson, Rebecca Joseph, Sean Yones, Paul Wright, Mark Squirek -- form a series of surrealistic group sculptures on stage as part of the group interpretation.

The 17 short scenes in the Diverse Works theater piece are based on actual statistics and news accounts of the troubles in Central America. The director and actors developed the story line during experimentation in improvisational workshops.

"It is deplorable what is happening to these people," Calhoun said. "The military governments essentially are picking on impoverished people but now they cross all lines torturing and killing workers, students, teachers, doctors . . . anyone who stands up for the rights of the persecuted poor.

"The drama mainly concerns the mothers of three victims who protest the police raids by dancing at the town plaza," Calhoun said. "They have been beaten and raped but they continue to dance and to bring world attention to their plight."

The 45-minute piece contains considerable descriptive, lyricadialogue. "We have no real script. The actors wrote their own soliloquies," Calhoun said. "Mark has originated the mood songs which he executes on his guitar. The songs are from his head and are different each time."

"We don't want to make our production baldly political. Our purpose is to explore the dynamics of simple folk trying to reach out for their loved ones who are missing," Calhoun said.

"We don't want to bludgeon the audience with the message. We just want to give a glimpse into a particular society's approach to a social/political event."

Diverse Works is being performed in its entirety at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $5 and can be reserved by calling Maryland Art Place at 962-8565.

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