Women Centre-Stage in ‘Her Open Eyes’

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by Sophie Stevens

Her Open Eyes is a play about one woman’s ability to laugh in the face of death. But this is not an easy thing to do and the play depicts the challenges and conflicts that arise as the protagonist struggles to resolve to live her life. The fact that the play focuses on a strong female protagonist and gives us an insight into how she negotiates her choice is what makes it so relevant today. Raquel Diana’s work often draws on her own experience in order to tell stories from the perspective of women. This is one of the most exciting aspects of her work and the Out of the Wings Festival 2016 showcased my English translation of Diana’s play, Dancing Alone Every Night, which also explores themes of love, death and desire. The interest in her work and the intriguing connections between these two plays motivated me to translate Her Open Eyes for a UK audience. Written in the year 2000 and performed throughout Latin America, Her Open Eyes returned to Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital city, and the Comedia Nacional in 2016. 

In Uruguay, just as in many places throughout the world today, questions about women’s choices, their agency and the opportunities open to them are being raised. Uruguay is leading up to elections in October this year and there is consistent demand from women’s rights groups for representation, equality and greater awareness around discrimination. Through a portrayal of female experience, Raquel’s work is in dialogue with these issues. She creates a series of performances within the play in which the protagonist finds herself centre stage in a circus show, resulting in a moving, exhilarating and humorous reflection on how we face the challenges life throws at us, sometimes in the form of trapezes.

As she balances between life and death, the protagonist wonders: what would she tell the women of the world if she could? Never, ever, close your eyes and see where others don’t see. That’s where great opportunities for women lie. And that’s what Raquel Diana does in this play, she offers us a new and playful perspective on what it means to take back your life.

See Her Open Eyes by Raquel Diana, translated by Sophie Stevens and directed by Fran Olivares at the Omnibus Theatre, 1 August 2019. Click here for information and booking.