The Fallen by Yasmine Beverly Rana seen at the T. Schrieber Studios June 27th, 2013 illustrates the gut wrenching consequences of the Bosnian War to the individuals involved, even decades after the end of the fighting.
The story starts as a mystery, and the scenes spill out at you like puzzle pieces. At first it was difficult to see how each scene connected to another but eventually I was able to recognize them forming a narrative. The story spans over 28 years, moving back and forth from 1982 to 2010. Six different characters are presented and, at first, they all seem to be unrelated. About half way through, the pieces started to fit together and I became engaged. I found myself really wanting to know how these characters related to each other. The story of Anais was the link that connected the pieces for me.
Systematic rape is often used as a weapon of war in 'ethnic cleansing'. More than 20,000 Muslim girls and women were raped in Bosnia after the fighting began in April 1992. Impregnated by Serbian soldiers the girls were forced to bear the enemy's children. These children known as Bosnia’s “war babies” often experienced neglect, discrimination, and ostracism.
Anais is a girl who was the product of rape. Her mother is a Muslim who, as a teen aged virgin, was forced into a camp where she was repeatedly raped by Serbian soldiers. She was impregnated and forced to have the baby. That baby was part of an ethnic cleansing campaign perpetrated by Serbians soldiers during the Bosnian war.
As directed by Terry Schreiber, the ensemble cast of Ananda Bena-Weber, Joshua Mark Sienkiewicz, Kelly Swartz, Molly Gyllenhaal, George Mouriadis and Cyrus Salvia created emotionally grounded performances. The understated costumes by Sherry Martinez helped to define each character. The simple set by Hal Tine changed elegantly into the different locations in conjunction with the lighting design of Eric Cope. We were transported to the moody atmospheres of a seaside hotel in Italy, an oppressive holding camp, the quiet of the Tate Museum in London and a dusk drenched rooftop in Sarajevo. Sound designer Andy Evan Cohen’s sound scape connected the transitions from scene to scene with middle eastern music and male voice-overs specifying the locations and dates.
The Fallen is beautifully written with well formed characters, great acting, directing and design. The subject matter of forced rape left me sickened and filled with hopelessness that humans are capable of such awful behavior.