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The performer in the photograph on the cover.

HE PERFORMER IN THE PHOTOGRAPH ON THE COVER OF this issue is a woman whose name we do not know. She appears in a play called A Day in Our Country, created by an Iraqi street-theatre troupe called Al Mada. The performance takes place under a bombed-out bridge in Baghdad.

It was not until the wildly varied material in this issue--intended, in part, to call attention to the theme of global citizenship--was tidily organized into final layout that I realized how aptly this cover image represents the subject at hand. Coursing through each of the five articles in the feature section (six, counting Gerald Stropnicky's brief meditation on another striking photograph, page 34) is a profound concern about the rights and aspirations of women.

Follow the thread. A woman's right to own land is the organizing principle of an inspiring drama festival Douglas Langworthy attends in the Gulu region of Uganda, where agribusiness loans are helping to mend the ravages of war. In the Jenin refugee camp in Palestine, young actresses brave family censure to appear in the Freedom Theater's taboo-shattering production Alice in Wonderland, and audiences of women, young and old, Flock to performances. Despite a dearth of plays about the experiences of modern Algerian women, female theatre artists push for greater representation in that nation's 14 state-run regional theatres. Iraqi-American writer and performer Heather Raffo's self-empowering solo 9 Parts of Desire undergoes revisions for a premiere this coming year in Baghdad. The harrowing experiences of women in Afghanistan, as managing editor Nicole Estvanik Taylor reports in her Global Spotlight column, have made their way, incongruously, into dramatic readings performed by female comics in Brooklyn.

These women's struggles--and their cathartic, frequently hopeful manifestations in performance--are central to any discussion of global outreach or exchange. But the rights of women, it's crucial to note, are not a matter of concern only in far--flung parts of the world. When a candidate running for the U.S. presidency declares his support for the right of states to outlaw or ban contraception--and the entire Republican held is united in its determination to reverse Roe V. Wade--it's clear that a woman's right to control her own body is under high-profile attack on our own shores as well as abroad.

So the woman on the cover, despite her anonymity, stands for all of us as she addresses an unseen audience beneath the ruins of her city. Her posture and her face, her very presence in this desolate place, evoke a myriad of contradictions: reverence and defiance, courage and retrenchment, resolve and reconciliation, solemnity and joy. It is her voice we are listening for.

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Title Annotation:EDITOR'S NOTE; on women's rights
Author:O'Quinn, Jim
Publication:American Theatre
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2012
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