Not My Revolution
ABOUT THE PLAY
Inspired by Josef Bush’s 1967 play French Gray, this powerful solo show, written and performed by Elizabeth Elias Huffman, is a dreamlike play told through film, movement and live theatre. The story follows two women whose lives have been forever altered by a tumultuous civil war. Not My Revolution travels back & forth in time between Marie Antoinette’s imprisonment during the French Revolution in 1793 and a ghetto in Istanbul in 2011 where a once-wealthy Syrian art dealer is struggling to survive catastrophic losses due to the civil war in her country.
The 90-minute play examines the very real consequences of forced displacement, and the judgments passed on two women whose destiny has been determined by appearances and society’s expectations of them.
Audiences share their responses
The Theatertage Festival
Hanau, Germany 2016
Local Pittsburgh- Lawrence McCullough
City Paper Pittsburgh- Jordana Rosenfeld
Cuntism Magazine- Albuquerque, New Mexico- Kristen Kurens
Onstage Pittsburgh Review- Sharon Eberson
Pittsburgh Owl Scribe Online Review- Dave Zuchowski
German Language Reviews
Television & Radio Interviews
CBS KDKA TV
Interview Pittsburgh Live Today
OPB- Portland with April Baer
WQED Podcast with Jim Cunningham
KHFM Classical Station, Alburquerque, New Mexico with Brent Stevens
TRANSLATION OF GERMAN REVIEWS
Weser- Kurier- Bremen
THE RE-IMAGINATION OF FRENCH GRAY BY THE DISPLACED WOMAN)OCTOBER 8, 2016
Iris Hetscher 08/10/2016 Bremen.
The American actress Elizabeth Huffman portraying between the frontlines of two women
What gives meaning to life and dignity
The cardboard sign on the door is totally uninviting. "Refugees not wanted" someone has written with black grease pencil on it. But the unnamed Syrian woman tears down the sign. She opens the door and goes through it, because she needs a place where she can stay. It is not very home like here in this basement room, somewhere in Istanbul. But the woman has no choice. She rolls her sleeping bag, sets the table and a chair on their feet, grabs her thermos, lights a candle, and ignoring the garbage, begins to tell her story.
The American actress and author Elizabeth Huffman has slipped into the role of this woman whose name you do not learn during this hour and a half, must-see solo guest performance in the Bremer Shakespeare Company. This is no coincidence; because this woman is representative of many who escaped from Syria in "The Re-imagining of French Gray by the Displaced Woman". The title of the piece suggests the story is convoluted but fortunately that does not happen in the performance. Elizabeth Huffman was inspired by the 1967 written piece "French Gray". In Josef Bush's piece the French queen Marie Antoinette muses (1755-1793) in the prison contemplating her life - complacent, at times uncertain, at times sad.
Huffman has further developed the piece for the year 2016, the director Louanne Moldovan has set the stage: In an abandoned Turkish basement the Syrian refugee woman finds the original text and begins to read about Marie Antoinette, and soon the lives of two women intermingle. Both are victims of revolutions in their own way: Marie Antoinette's time as queen (and four years later her life) was over when the French Revolution in 1789 concluded the rule of the aristocrats. The Syrian Woman, invented by Elizabeth Huffman is homeless because of randomly being in the turmoil of protests against dictator Bashar al-Assad – Life was very good; her husband was rich, and they belonged to the upper class. The demonstrations she feels are a disruptive exercise on the way to the shopping center. But then her husband gets accidentally caught in the crossfire and is killed, and his father happily takes the opportunity to throw out his unloved daughter in law out of the house and thus out of the country.
Huffman makes the portrait of this woman being uprooted so suddenly, a gripping character study. It takes a long time until the Syrian woman is clear that she does not have it better than any other refugees. And that she might have made better use of her time paying attention to the social conditions and political crimes in Syria instead of being blindfolded in a self-defined Wonderland. Huffman transforms her at these moments of insight - supported by precision-fit sound and light effects (Lawrence Siulagi, Jeff Forbes) - As Marie Antoinette, who speaks with a French accent English, Huffman dances to Menuettklängen through the room while being outraged at how dirty their subjects appear; a little more grace despite famine would surely be there, right? At the same time she suffers, always known as "the Austrian woman" she was unloved by the people, mistrusted by the French nobles. And what could she really have become of her if her life had not ended by other’s misdirection?
The Syrian woman by the end finally has understood that she must "Do something worthy with your life!" (Spoken to her briefly before fleeing by a politically active student) It is still not too late for her like it is for Marie. There is a diamond necklace, once she vowed not to sell, but now with which one could finance a school in a refugee camp.
"The Re-imagining of French Gray by the Displaced Woman" is on this Saturday, 19.30, to see again in the Shakespeare Company.
Translated by Hap Sermol
Edited by Dorothy Sermol
Edited by Luisa Sermol
Nov 10, 2016
TAZ- BREMEN, OCTOBER 8
Simpel, aber spürbar (Simple, but impressive)
“Refugees not wanted” is displayed at the door of the stage. But for the escaped Syrian woman it is the entrance to her sanctuary. While in exile in Turkey she reads about the French queen Marie Antoinette and identifies with this woman who supposedly did not lose her noble disposition until her execution. The queen presented herself as a proud convict, captured behind closed prison doors.
Between these two positions moves the solo performance “The Re-imagining of French Gray by the Displaced Woman” in the Shakespeare Company, written and played by Elizabeth Elias Huffman. The origin for this adaptation is a piece from 1967 by Josef Bush about injustice between the poor and rich. In Elizabeth Huffman's play the metaphors quite simple: a candle on the table symbolizes hope, a framed photo shows the missing children.
Huffman usually performs or directs with Chain Reaction Theater in projects focusing against discrimination. “French Gray” reveals the achievable when the Syrian protagonist pleads with the front row spectators for shelter in a safe place. However, they just stared back dumb founded. On stage, Huffman’s piece is operetta-like, the music dramatic. Light and sound have technically succeeded, augmenting the solo performance . The piece captivates when Huffman tells about the fate of the rich art dealer from Syria who was swept away by the political happenings. The feminine strength of Marie Antoinette gives her the will to carry on.
In the public discourse following the play, a Syrian refugee announces that the fate of the protagonist has been emotionally moving and that the drama was necessary to make an impression of the cruelty of the civil war.
Translated by Hap and Luisa Sermol, Nov 5, 2016