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  • Natalie Dulka

Millennia of Women

Updated: Feb 20

Millennia of Women was a devised show based on stories from interviews taken with survivors of sexual assault and abuse. It was originally produced at North Dakota State University in cooperation with the Department of Performing Arts on November 4th, 2018. It was created and directed by Natalie Dulka. It featured Elyssa Bickford, Michaela Burns, and C.C. Manstrom. The following is a cutting from the opening scene.




ELYSSA

According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, three women are murdered by a current or former male partner in the U.S. every day, amounting to a body count of

ALL

Eighteen Thousand Women

ELYSSA

In the last fifteen years.

The chairs are rearranged into a car by MICHAELA

ELYSSA sits in the SR chair, as if driving a car.

CC

A McDonald’s drive-thru. A Monday night. 2018. Waiting for my nuggets. The couple in the car behind me screaming at each other. The woman in the driver’s seat.

CC sits in the other chair.

The following happens simultaneously

ELYSSA

Can we just talk about this at home?

I’m not even doing anything.

This is why we don’t go out!

She needs to eat

She calls you “dad”

CC

You’re not convincing me.

Get out of my fucking face.

No fuck the food we’re going home

She’s your kid you figure it out.

Don’t use your kid as an excuse

CC stands back up, ELYSSA stays seated.

CC

Over the running of our engines and through the pauses in their attacks, I could hear the desperate wails of an unseen girl.

MICHAELA sits, facing away from the audience, behind ELYSSA.

CC

When I called the dispatcher to report the dispute and give their license plate number, she asked how old the child looked and I told her I never saw her. Just heard her.It felt a little… ironic. Children should be seen and not heard. And here was this girl, never to be seen. She sounded about two.

ELYSSA rises from her seat.

ELYSSA

They say women are a commodity in China since the abolition of the one-child rule.

CC, MICHAELA

A seller’s market.

ELYSSA

Too many men, not enough women for them to marry. When you could only have one child, you got rid of the runts.The girls.The weaker sex.

The following happens simultaneously

MICHEALA

They cost more money.

They don’t make as much once they’re grown.

You only get one.It’s the logical choice to just start fresh.

CC

Bound feet and concubines

Babies torn from their mothers’ hands

Celebrate this shift in gender dynamic because women are now in “the demographic driver’s seat”

MICHAELA

A blind eye turned to the 2000 years of history of mothers drowning and burying their daughters.

ELYSSA

Look at the world you live in. Would you raise your daughter in it? Do you fault these women for running away from a world where their daughters might be killed by the man they marry or – more likely by almost three hundred percent –

ALL

In the birth of her own daughter.

A pause.

A shift.

MICHAELA brings the wash bin and dishes out for the next interludes.

ELYSSA

So... About that decision.

CC

That one not to take lightly.

ELYSSA

Taking up so much space you can hardly breathe.

CC

Binding you to the lives of women gone long before you.

ELYSSA

A mother, a worker.

CC

A commodity, a victim.

ALL

Less than.

ELYSSA

Weighing you down like shackles, too tight around your will to live.

CC

Tying ropes around your wrists to a pyre lit with rage and violence.

MICHEALA ties aprons around CC and ELYSSA'S waists,

then ties one around her own.

ELYSSA

Madonna in blue flame.

CC

Burning at the stake, no air in, no air out.

BOTH

Only heat.

ELYSSA

Filling your lungs, your ears, your stomach

CC

Burning the tips of your fingers, your toes, your eyes

BOTH

Your lips.

CC

But it doesn’t matter.

ELYSSA

You don’t need them.

CC

Your hands.

ELYSSA

Your feet.

BOTH

Your words.

CC

He’ll take the driver’s seat. He’ll take care of it.

ELYSSA

Hopefully, he’ll take care of you.

CC

A Lavinia of the modern era.

ELYSSA

Bound feet, roped wrists, broken body

CC

No room to breathe.

ELYSSA

Connected in constriction to millennia of women.


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