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FIU Theatre’s latest play reveals the resilience of the human spirit in the face of war
Lia Rodriguez (foreground) and Christina Tsitouris in "Necessary Targets" by Eve Ensler, directed by Lesley-Ann Timlick, stage managed by Amanda Hernandez, scenic design by Jennifer Ivey, costume design by Marina Pareja, lighting design by Alex Ortiz, sound design by Nicholas Quintana, photos by Ivan R. Lopez

FIU Theatre’s latest play reveals the resilience of the human spirit in the face of war

Necessary Targets by Eve Ensler shines light on women traumatized by the war in Bosnia

April 6, 2023 at 3:00pm

The pages of history are stained with the unspeakable horrors of war, revealing the worst of what humanity is capable of. However, even amidst the darkness, tales of remarkable bravery and strength often emerge to illuminate the resilience of the human spirit.

These stories take center stage at The Wertheim for the next two weeks as FIU Theatre presents its final production of the 2022-23 season, "Necessary Targets" by Eve Ensler.

In 1992, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia sparking a brutal war that resulted in widespread ethnic cleansing and war crimes against civilians. An estimated 100,000 people died during the war, while another 2 million were displaced and forced to flee their homes.

"Necessary Targets" is set in a Bosnian refugee camp in 1995, immediately following the end of the war. Two American women, a clinical therapist and a reporter, travel to Bosnia as part of a presidential commission to work with women war refugees.

“War always results in trauma, but particularly the women in war-torn countries suffer a lot,” says associate professor Lesley-Ann Timlick, the play’s director. “There are crimes that have occurred against women during wartime all throughout our history.”

In the play, J.S., the therapist sent to Bosnia, soon discovers that the traditional boundaries and rules that govern the therapist/client relationship in the United States are not going to work.

“She learns that she has to break the rules in order to reach them and help them through their trauma,” says Timlick. “She had to be with them as human beings. She had to drink coffee with them, have a drink and smoke a cigarette with them so they would trust her. She let her guard down and eventually they changed her to be a more empathetic person.”

Ensler’s play was born out of the playwright’s own personal experiences with Bosnian women. After the war, she traveled to Bosnia and interviewed countless women dealing with the aftermath of the conflict. The stories she gathered inspired her to write the play.

“It was their community, their holding on to love, their insane humanity in the face of catastrophe, their staggering refusal to have or seek revenge that fueled me and ultimately moved me to write this play,” Ensler writes in the introduction to her play.

For the cast of seven actresses, the play presented them with many challenges and opportunities for growth. They had to master difficult accents and connect to the deeply emotional material while honoring the humor in the script.

For BFA in acting senior, Charisma Jolly, who plays Jelena, the biggest challenge was connecting to a character with whom she seemingly little in common.

“When I first read the script, I didn’t see much to like about her,” says Jolly. “But as the process continued, I grew to love her. We all had to dig deep and add layers to these characters in order to flesh them out and tell their important stories.”

Assistant Professor Marina Pareja was tasked with creating the look of these characters as the show’s costume designer. Although the five refugee women were all Bosnian, her job was to not paint them with the same brush.

“As refugees, these women left their homes with nothing,” says Pareja. “What they possess now is stuff they picked up from piles of donated clothing. Even then though, they still have their choice over the clothing they pick from that pile, so I had to make decisions about their different styles. Even though they are refugees, they still retain their individuality as human beings.”

"Necessary Targets" runs from April 7-16, 2023 at The Wertheim on FIU’s MMC campus. Tickets are on sale now.