Video: Lana Finikin and Women Doing Serious Theater


Lana Finikin, 59, from Jamaica is an activist using theater to address violence against women. “The saying is, when women and girls are safe, then everybody else will be safe,” she says. Watch her 3-minute video above.

In 1977, Finikin co-founded the Sistren Theatre Collective, which uses performances to explore problems concerning poor women in rural and urban communities in Jamaica – issues include violence, HIV/Aids, domestic work, housing, land tenure, environment and unemployment.

Finikin uses drama as a tool to share experiences and to empower communities on a grassroots level so they can resolve their own problems. Sistren develops the stories for its plays out of people’s experiences and narrations. At a recent UN conference in New York on the status of women, Finikin showed her approach in a two-hour-long condensed workshop.

According to the UN, globally 7 out 10 women will be beaten, raped, abused, or mutilated in their lifetimes with most of the violence is taking place in intimate relationships.

Poetry: ‘News reach of the women dead in them sleep’

I studied with Shara McCallum in the MFA poetry program at the University of Southern Maine. Her new book This Strange Land has just been published and includes her series of “Miss Sally” poems in Jamaican dialect. Based loosely on conversations with her grandmother, McCallum’s poetry here is stunning and clear.

Miss Sally on the Grandmother Fires
by Shara McCallum

Hear what I tell yu: God promised Noah,
No more water. The fire next time.
That evening, mi sit down on the verandah
teking in a lickle fresh air when news reach
of the women dead in them sleep.
Lickle by lickle, the rest of the storey come out:
two young boys acting like men, like God himself.
153 dead—and fi what? Fi win election?

Mi dear, in all mi years I never imagine
is so low we would stoop.
For a people who know
what it is to be the lamb,
how we go lead our own
to slaughter?

Shara McCallum is the author of This Strange Land, just out from Alice James Press. Her two previous collections of poetry are Song of Thieves (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003) and The Water Between Us (University of Pittsburgh Press). Born of Afro-Jamaican and Venezuelan parents in Kingston, Jamaica, she lives with her husband and two young daughters in central Pennsylvania, where she directs the Stadler Center for Poetry and teaches creative writing and literature at Bucknell University.