Staged Reading of Play on Salvadoran Civil War Feb. 17

Marymount University taught Leora Lihach that true empathy surpasses cultural boundaries and national borders. It’s a lesson she took to heart.

As a result, the 2016 graduate, along with the Teatro de la Luna Theatre Company, will bring a staged reading of Lihach’s play “Madres de la Revolucion” (Mothers of the Revolution) from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17 in Marymount’s Reinsch Library Auditorium, 2807 North Glebe Road. The reading will be in English and is free and open to the public.

The play is based on the real-life testimonio of Commander Nidia Díaz, a mother and revolutionary who endured prison and human rights violations during the Salvadoran Civil War. It grew out of Lihach’s honors thesis and was written while she was studying abroad at Oxford University in England through the honors program and Marymount’s Center for Global Education.

“It’s a remarkable accomplishment for someone her age to have done all the research, written a play and have it produced by a professional theater,” said Dr. Sarah Fischer, a lecturer in social and criminal justice who was one of Lihach’s mentors at Marymount.

In high school, Lihach did a little acting but never imagined she would ever write a play. High school is also where her interest in women in Latin America began after she watched a documentary about women, power and politics that included the story of Chile’s first female president. At Marymount, that interest grew.

“I fell head over heels in love with Latin America,” she said. “So many of its women are incredible and strong. They went through really ugly times, and the women and mothers, who represented national morality, were a force to be reckoned with.”

She said it’s important to have stories that teach us that U.S. policies are often the root cause of undocumented immigration, especially in today’s political climate.

“My mission with this play has been to create a testament to the belief that shared humanity can reconcile cultural differences,” she said.

Lihach, who is teaching herself Spanish, originally sprinkled Spanish words in the play, then added phrases in subsequent drafts with the help of friends fluent in the language. In preparation for writing the play, she immersed herself in first-hand accounts of the Salvadoran Civil War. She knew that as an outsider, she had a responsibility to understand the world of the revolutionaries, their history and narratives.

“I have Marymount to thank for helping me to see that,” she said.

Dr. Leigh Johnson, an assistant professor of literature and languages who advised Lihach on her honors thesis, said the play won a Marymount Actors Guild contest last year, which encouraged Lihach to take things further.

“She’s really committed to putting her ideas into practice,” Johnson said. “She has a lot to say and I look forward to seeing all that she’s going to accomplish.”

Last year the Arlington native interned in the president’s office of the National Organization for Women (NOW). She is currently a fellow at Latinas Leading Tomorrow, which works with Latina students in public schools.

Lihach, who earned a communication degree, praised her alma mater for encouraging empathy and open-mindedness.

“I’m so lucky that Marymount is such an international school with an emphasis on a global perspective,” she said. “That fueled all the work I did and helped make me the person I am today. It’s been a crazy ride and I feel like I’m paving my own path.”

  Teatro de la Luna, a non-profit that provides the Washington, D.C., area with theater from a Latin American perspective, will hold a stage reading of “Madres de la Revolucion” in Spanish at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12 at Casa de la Luna, 4200 Georgia Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. An additional performance in English will be held there at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 19.

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Leora Lihach