Dr. Gail Humphries Mardirosian, dean of the School of Creative and Performing Arts, has long believed in the power of theater for social change. She hopes her musical staged reading “Traces in the Wind,” a tribute to three women who survived the Holocaust through the sustenance of their art, will do just that when it is performed from Jan. 19-20 for high school students and community members in Peoria, Ariz. The cast of Stephens alumnae have already performed the tone poem of remembrance twice in Washington, D.C., debuting at the International Psychoanalytical Conference and shown again at the Embassy of the Czech Republic.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for us,” Mardirosian said. “The performances will be on site at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts, which has a lovely proscenium stage.”

 “Traces in the Wind” was developed two and a half years ago by Mardirosian, who worked with various Stephens theatre and musical theatre students on the piece. Tom Andes, instructor of music, composed original music and worked with Mardirosian to develop the lyrics.

The piece is based on writings from three Czech survivors of Terezin, a Nazi transit camp located 45 miles outside of Prague.

“The words of three extraordinary women who were betrayed, humiliated, deprived of normal living conditions and incarcerated, experienced a great depth of psychological and physical abuse and, yet, survived, were used as the matrix for the presentation,” Mardirosian said. “It seemed as if each of these exceptional women had used their art as some form of sustenance, and it gave them some renewal, at least for the soul.”

The stories presented include those of Charlotte Delbo, portrayed by Katherine Moore ’17; Rosie Glazer, portrayed by Clara Bentz ’17; and Eva Kavanova, portrayed by Lauren Hardcastle ’16.

Abilene Olson ’17 performs as the narrator; Jayme Brown ’17 serves as production stage manager and dramaturge; and Jamie Casagrande ’17 designed the costumes. Brandi Coleman, visiting artist, developed the movement. Pam Ellsworth-Smith, associate professor of vocal arts, served as vocal coach. Dialect coach was Paula Cavanaught Carter. Script consultant was Barbara Oliver Korner.

Bentz, Stephens’ Constance McMillin ’59 post-graduate theatre fellow at Theater Works in Peoria, is developing an accompanying study guide for high school students.

A talkback will follow the performance led by Sara Crosby ’76, a professional actress and licensed social worker.

“We are extraordinarily fortunate to have Sara as our facilitator,” Mardirosian said. “As a LSW [licensed social worker], she understands the innate challenges of the stories and the contemporary importance. We will continue to do audience response research on this project since the performance deals with pertinent issues, including women who survive violence, the power of the arts and the courage to speak out.”


Pictured (L-to-R): “Traces in the Wind” performers Clara Bentz ’17, Lauren Hardcastle ’16 and Katherine Moore ’17.

Tags : Alumnae Achievement, School of Creative & Performing Arts, Theatre

« Back to Stephens News