A little more than two decades ago, women were not protected from domestic violence. Over 10 million cases of victimization were the result of intimate partner violence before 1994.
Now, the Filigree Theatre, an independent women-led theater company, puts on a story familiar to this nation with “When We Were Young and Unafraid,” written by Sarah Treem. The production takes the audience back to the 1970s before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion and other legislation outlawed violent acts against one’s spouse. Elizabeth Newman and Stephanie Moore, producers, lead into this act as a part of this season’s Filigree theme “At A Crossroads,” which leads different characters to singular brinks of change.
As a diversely cast production, characters take the script into more than tales of anguish. This tale has no bounds on emotion; it transcends scenes of melancholy to joy. A story is told that many women in the twentieth century experienced, namely fear. But the support each character provides to the story sets a tone of reality that most productions do not reach. Actor and actresses trot through the set in many moments of thought and reflection to bring the crowd an awe-making conclusion. Seasoned actors such as Linda Bradshaw (Agnes), Ben Gibson (Paul), Allison Paranka (Penny), Laura Ray (Mary Anne) and Michelle Mary Schaefer (Hannah) bring heightened emotion to the stage.
The story begins with a troubled Mary Anne battling the lust of her husband’s strike and stroke. She stumbles into a bed and breakfast and is faced with contemplating a future that is not only hers to consider. Agnes, a former nurse, uses her quaint bed and breakfast as a safe house for domestic violence victims. This woman’s past leads a tale of a heroism that is filled with trauma and acceptance. Stories of love and a mother-daughter feud brought Penny, her daughter, through a tough transition between boys and her future.
The most interesting character is a handy woman, Hannah, who re-introduces Agnes to a life that she hasn’t had in ages. Hannah guides Agnes into conversation of a separatist community that only allows feminism. There are instances where their relationship takes turns many women are not willing to admit to.
One character after another is taught the importance of self-worth. Through sound, sight and the monologue of five characters a sticky situation is turned into motivation. With backgrounds all very distinct, even the most interesting characters still manage to surprise the audience. One utter display of kindness was the moment you find out just how dedicated to the cause Agnes is and will always be.
“When We Were Young and Unafraid” runs Thursday-Saturday at 8pm until the final bow on February 23. Step out to meet the cast, crew and producers at Mastrogeorge Theatre at 130 Pedernales St. Suite 318, Austin, Texas. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online or at the door.
Cover photo EVN for The Filigree Theatre
Alexis Michele Higgins, a Texas State University student from Houston, has a professional background in music and entertainment.