By MiMi Wattanarungsun
Theater Review: Women’s Minyan Play
Summary: The story of Women’s Minyan is based on the true story of “Chana,” a mother of 12 children who was abused by her husband and is treated unfairly by her ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. Eventually, “Chana” fights for what she believed is the rights all women should have to be treated fairly and decently. She gathers women family and friends, a total of 10 women including herself, and creates the “women’s minyan” for the truth and justice of womanhood.
Women’s Minyan is based on a true story that takes place in the contemporary world of Haredim or ultra-Orthodox Jews, who are sub divided into many groups and sects. Men and women in this society have to follow certain laws and customs. These lives nurture prayer and the study of Talmud in Yeshiva.
In this particular society, the roles of women are clearly defined by what they should or should not do, and what they can or cannot do. For example, they have to dress in a way that covers their appearances. Women are often married in their late teens to pre- arranged marriages, and giving birth to 12 children is not uncommon. Chana, the main character in the story, is not unusual in that regard. Women have to work really hard, both inside and outside the home, to support their families and their husbands.
This story is about the treatment of women within the kind of society where some women are abused by their husband and yet, have no options.
The great thing about the Women’s Minyan is that this play relates to all women. Shari Upbin, the director, sees the importance of the subject beyond just the story itself. Real issues and deep desire are explored and ways in which women should or could communicate with husbands are examined. The heart of the message here is to say that women deserve to be treated with fairness and respect. Everyone should have a chance to make their own choices. If men can, then why can’t women?
Directed by Shari Upbin, the Women’s Minyan was produced by Myrna Loman. Naomi Ragen was the playwright for the December performance at the West Boca Theatre Company.
Shari Upbin continues to seek the right plays and the right people to continue telling great, passionate stories.