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Davis, California

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

‘Anonymous’ tells stories of women

The Department of Theatre and Dance presents Anonymous, a multimedia collaboration inspired by real stories of real women.

The show will feature videos, text, participatory sculpture and dance. The stories are inspired by the lives of the collaborators, who all bring their experiences to the table.

“These are stories about being women,” said Jarrell Chua, an MFA candidate in dramatic arts and the director of Anonymous. “These are our struggles, our joys and our experiences.”

Anonymous came to be while Chua was working with a group of women last year.

“I was trying to do a different piece and it wasn’t cohering very well. I thought, ‘What do they all have in common?’ and the only thing I could come up with was that they were all women,” Chua said.

The project was made possible by a grant from the Puffin Foundation, a group from Teaneck, N.J. that, according to Chua, specializes in funding projects that don’t normally get funded.

“I found the Puffin Foundation while researching grants for a class I was taking. I actually wrote them for this grant as the final project for that class. I wasn’t expecting to get this grant, and now I am doing this show when my thesis is due,” Chua said.

Chua was influenced by Anna Halprin’s “Life/Art Process,” which was developed in the 1970s and is discussed in Chua’s thesis.

“It involves taking personal life material and developing it into art, as well as recognizing the interchange between life and art and how art can influence people’s lives,” Chua said.

For this piece, Chua asked her collaborators to think of a personal experience that was very strongly related to womanhood.

“We drew pictures of these experiences in order to extract it. Then we wrote it to extract it more, and then we danced for it. That’s how we came up with the material for this collection,” Chua said.

Maribel Lopez, a fourth-year psychology and dance double major, is one of the contributors and collaborators on Anonymous. Lopez shares how she contributed to the piece by drawing from her personal life.

“My contribution to this piece was a lot of my own stories, sharing and reflecting as a woman and the woman I’ve become.

Personally, it was a way of reflecting on my relationships with my parents and how they have molded who I am and reflect who I want to be,” Lopez said.

Another contributor is Kristen Rulifson, a fourth-year neurology, physiology and behavior major.

“My contribution was to share my story and to inspire other women to share theirs. I have tried to incorporate what women can do, the risks they can take and the strengths they have to feel empowered. I think that through this piece, my purpose is to inspire women and men to think about these issues and concerns that women face,” she said.

Rulifson enjoyed working with Chua.

“It’s been an experience, and I have learned so much about myself,” Rulifson said. “We work in a very creative process and in a safe space, so the movement that we generated has been real and novel, a reflection of our sensations that we feel as part of our identity as women.”

Chua felt lucky to have this opportunity.

“It’s been an interesting journey and a real pleasure to work with these women, and they’ve been inspiring both artistically and personally,” Chua said.

JOHN KESLER can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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