“SEVEN” To Highlight Women’s Stories at Faith and International Development Conference


Photo Courtesy ‘Seven’

This summer, the Faith and International Development Conference (FIDC) organizers approached theater professor Stephanie Sandberg with an unusual suggestion. What if a play were to join their lineup, traditionally comprised of only lectures? The idea was intriguing but she had previously committed to leading a January Interim trip to Ghana. Sandberg turned to senior theater major Emily Wetzel, who was “honored” to direct the project. Featuring the stories of empowered women from across the world, “SEVEN” will challenge its audience to embody the FIDC’s theme – “Agape: Awaking Love in the Everyday.”

After reading the show’s script, Wetzel “immediately fell in love with its format, stories and call to action.” “SEVEN,” as a piece of documentary theater, weaves material from interviews of the represented women into the lines the actresses speak onstage. From Russia to Pakistan, Nigeria to Northern Ireland, Afghanistan to Guatemala, Cambodia to the United States, the tragedies these women have faced are real and recognizable.

The show tells the stories of seven women who have, in Wetzel’s words, “given up comfort, security and opportunities in order to do the work to which [they are] called.” One of these is Mu Sochua, portrayed by junior Ruth Vanden Bos, who fights against sex trafficking in Cambodia and Thailand. Another is Hafsat Abiola, played by senior Abuoma Nwadike, who encourages young women to lead in Nigeria. Senior Joy Christopher plays Mukhtar Mai, who campaigns for women’s rights and education in Pakistan.  

These stories, along with those of four others, converge in “SEVEN” to challenge and inspire its audience. And Wetzel hopes that these conversations will continue long after the show concludes.

“The themes of SEVEN are themes that should always be relevant in the Calvin community,” she said. How can we make sure that women are part of the global solution to poverty? How can we take the tools that we are given at Calvin and put them into practice? How do we occupy a James 1:27 mindset and care for the widows and orphans in our society? How do we care for them, and how do we empower them?”

“SEVEN” will be performed this Saturday, Feb. 13, at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. in the Calvin College Chapel.