by Maria Cominis
Women of Zalongo©2018, Bay Area Playwrights Festival 2020 semi-finalist. https://newplayexchange.org/plays/1059296/women-zalongo
Playwrights Foundation enthusiastically recommends this play, WOMEN OF ZALONGO, as a Semi-Finalist for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival 2020. We were moved by the quality of the writing and the relevant and compelling themes that spoke to the mission of our festival. It excelled in a competitive process of 735 plays submitted this year and rose to the top after a six month long process discussing its merits with both national and local Bay Area readers, and we hope it moves swiftly towards production.
Women of Zalongo is in development with The Caloyeras Center for Modern Greek Studies at LMU and the recipient of the CSUF Intramural Grant for development workshop in 2021.
The development production has been rescheduled due to Covid and will take place in Los Angeles in the Fall 2021. The play is part of the events celebrating the 200th anniversary of Greece’s Independence in Los Angeles.
Please email [email protected] for more up to date information.
Atop nature’s chiseled castle in the mountains of Epirus,
upon a cliff, our ancestors lived free from the abuses of the agas.
Once nestled safely in their village,
above the crystal clear Ionian sea,
the refugees found solace and peace.
The ancient Souli women worked,
sang, raised their children,
and their children’s children while living peacefully off the bounty of the land.
My Yiayia was among them.
Until the fateful day we were held against our will, trapped.
Their land burned
Our homes, destroyed.
Their animals slaughtered
The women violated.
The children sacrificed.
A bloodshed you’d not wish upon your worst enemy.
To live free or die?
The choice was theirs.
Arms clasped; heads held high, united in protest they DANCED:
wildly, freely, to the edge of the cliff.
Refusing to surrender to the enemy
the brave sisters of Souli sent their children off the jagged white cliffs into the hands of fate following them into the afterlife.
A few survived by falling upon their kin.
This is where Women of Zalongo begins, with the survivors of this epic tragedy. In Greek theatre form, the play celebrates Hellenism, sisterhood and the heroism of women through the ages.
“Ambition forced me to listen to the voices of my ancestors. I believe they needed me but it turns out I needed them more.” Angie, an Art History Professor retires early to care for her mother Charis, who is suffering from dementia. Angie shares Greek traditions and old photos with Charis and Tina, the granddaughter in an effort to connect the generation gap. As the photos on the coffee table come to life, the old-world of Constantinople, 1912-1913 reveals secrets buried in the family’s archives. Angie’s Yiayia Eleni, haunts the present with stories of her childhood occupation during the Balkan War, inspiring the present generation to face their proverbial “cliff”, coming to terms with the lineage of trauma and choice, sometimes their own and sometimes not. Balkan music and dance inspires the storytelling with folk musicians and a cast of 8 women and 1 male (playing all the men).
Women of Zalongo is a work of fiction inspired by history, myth, Hellenic traditions and the courageous Greek women who modeled grace and hope for the future. The play celebrates Greek culture and the strength of the underrepresented women in history. Through the tragic historical framework of the Souliotes , joy and humor surfaces from the depth of character and the loving, sometimes complicated relationships between them.
MARIA COMINIS (Playwright) lives, works and creates in Los Angeles and Orange County, California. She holds an MFA in Theatre and an acting professor and at CSUF. She is co-authoring a book on Theatrical Collaboration for Routledge Publishing, 2021. She is an accomplished actor in both theatre and television and also a published author. In 2019, she created a “Call to Action Cabaret”, benefiting immigrant victims of domestic abuse. Television Credits: New Girl, Desperate Housewives, All My Children, One Life to Live. Theatre Credits: Bernarda Alba, The Diviners, The Sea Gull, Ivanov. Represented by Minc Talent Agency.
PROFESSOR CHRISTINA BOGDANOU earned a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of California at Los Angeles with an emphasis in 19th – 20th c. European literature, critical theory and gender studies. A native of Athens, Greece, she completed her B.A. in English literature and linguistics at the University of Athens. Upon graduation, she received the prestigious National Scholar Award (I.K.Y) to pursue an M.A. in Comparative Critical Theory Studies at Warwick University in the UK and then her doctorate degree at UCLA. Prior to her appointment at LMU, she taught at UCLA and Occidental College.
She has taught courses in comparative literature, critical theory, and Modern Greek literature, culture and language. She has taught at LMU since 200. She is currently the Director of the Basil P. Caloyeras Center for Modern Greek Studies and the Odyssey Summer Study Abroad Program in Greece. Her teaching and research interests are in the areas of identity politics, gender studies, cultural representations of women and women’s writing/voices.
The Caloyeras Center
The Center offers an interdisciplinary undergraduate curriculum in Modern Greek Studies. Courses are offered in Modern Greek history, the Greek Orthodox tradition and spirituality, Modern Greek literature, language and culture, theater, and film. Every summer the Center organizes the Odyssey Program, a four-week travel and study program in Greece. The Center also sponsors and organizes lectures, readings, film screenings, concerts, symposia, and exhibitions on topics of interest to the university and the community at large.
Past events include: MY MOTHER’S SIN by Yiorgios Vizyenos. An autobiographical story of a mother’s confession that speaks of guilt and forgiveness. Taking the Reins: The Current State of US Politics and need for Civic Engagement. Conversation with Michael Dukakis & The Screening of The New Greek Americans 1960-2018.