In the densely populated desert neighborhood of Ciudad Juárez in Chihuahua, Mexico, which sits on the southern border of the United States, more than 450 women have been kidnapped, sexually abused, and brutally slain since 1993. Not a single perpetrator has been arrested, and no one knows the motivation behind the attacks. The common denominators are that the victims were poor or working-class and between the ages of 5 and 25.
Mujeres de Arena is a collection of testimonials about the tragedy gathered by dramaturg Humberto Robles. Emerson Assistant Professor of Performing Arts Christina Marín directed a staged reading of Mujeres de Arena on March 22 in the President’s Room of the Iwasaki Library. Translated as Women of Sand: Testimonials of Women in Ciudad Juárez, the reading featured 11 student performers.
Over the course of a month, Marín worked with students to render this powerful dramatization of Robles’s work. More than just a staged reading, Women of Sand was accompanied by media, including a life-size video montage of some of the victims’ faces, images of postings and flyers that were distributed by their families, and even the gory scenes where these women were victimized and met their deaths: a parking lot, a dimly lit room, a fallow field. There was also live music, performed by part-time faculty member Michelle Abadia, who strummed a guitar and sang what sounded like bittersweet Spanish melodies to the packed room of faculty, staff, and students.
Marín has directed the play at many venues, including: Peace Education Network (PEN) at Teachers College, Columbia University; Human Rights and International Law, City University of New York (CUNY) Law School at Queens College; Theatre for Social Justice in the Hispanic World: Style, Performance and Production, Drew University; United States Hispanic Leadership Institute 28th Annual National Conference; and World March for Peace and Nonviolence, Diversity Center of Queens.
Photo Credits: Aja Neahring