by María Suárez Toro
Costa Rica/Puerto Rico
Combining dramatization, music, virtual and multimedia, the show is part of a project that seeks to make women’s contributions to an emerging, vital paradigm visible – one that challenges the current destructive relationship of humankind with its environment.
In Costa Rica, a multidisciplinary group of women artists, scientists, activists and academics is producing a musical, Wings of the Butterfly.
Among the women involved are microbiologist, Libia Herrera; anthropologist and environmentalist, Lorena Aguilar; singer and composer, Guadalupe Urbina; radio producer, Katerina Anfossi; historian, Anna Arroba; and scriptwriter, Roxana Campos, among others.
The show is based on the unpublished book: Women: Metamorphosis of the Butterfly Effect by María Suárez Toro, soon to be published by Editorial Norma in Costa Rica. It documents the contributions of women in different contexts whose work invigorates the current conflicts between the old Newtonian paradigm and emerging paradigms in the world today.
The domination of mechanistic science since the epoch of Descartes and Newton three hundred years ago has helped legitimize a vision of the world and of nature as being like a machine, and therefore subject to control by humans. This same mechanistic paradigm equates women with nature - therefore subject to the same masculine or patriarchal control - and views science as a means to dominate and control the environment.
Building new alternative paradigms requires knowledge that is based on and includes women’s perspectives and also validates an inclusive epistemology and multidimensional perspective in order to break the hold of the old paradigm of mechanistic science.
The name of the show honors the “Butterfly Effect” from Chaos Theory that says everything is so interconnected that even the smallest action in any one place can have an immense effect elsewhere. In the show, African-American Rosa Parks personifies the butterfly effect when she refuses to give up her bus seat to a white man, contrary to the segregationist laws of the United States at that time. In doing so, Rosa, against the backdrop of the civil rights movement, unleashed a wave of nationwide protests that led to the abolishment of those racist laws.The collective of women have this to say about their production: “Wings of the Butterfly is a space, a language and an experience that draws from women’s experiences and perspectives…it connects women with alternatives…(and) denounces what has happened to women, presents their undervalued alternatives and proposals in history, but does not stop there; rather it frames those experiences by challenging the dominant paradigm of exclusion, oppression and subordination that negatively impacts vital and creative social interactions…Wings of the Butterfly is catalytic for building a movement that affirms alternative paradigms to destruction and domination. It seeks to create contributions to other ways of living, relating and thinking.”
Illustrating the role of art in paradigm shift, Costa Rican Guadalupe Urbina, one of the production’s art directors says,“Its language is artistic because art allows us to move, be moved, connect and revitalize. Metaphor is the language that allows us to connect with subjectivity. Art, by using metaphoric language, can express in a more integrated manner the experience, knowledge and revitalization of resonances so crucial to break isolation for movement building. Song has a unique power; it is the power to move your body and feelings, to transport you inevitably to an empowering place. It calls, reunites and above all liberates what you need to liberate…”
“Lucy,” one of the oldest skeletal remains found on the planet makes an appearance and, narrates the shift from matrilineal to patriarchal societies. She describes a lost paradigm in history that exists buried deep within all of us, and stresses the urgency for humanity to reconnect to that vital re-emerging paradigm that binds humanity to the natural world.
Four “peripheral visionaries” in science are also featured. Elisabet Sahtouris, Lyn Margullis, Evelyn Fox Keller and Barbara Mc Clintock are scientists who have challenged mainstream scientific assumptions in genetics, microbiology, biology and epistemology, recognizing their subjective outlook as a source of sound scientific knowledge.
Women from Latin American and the Caribbean contribute their perspectives on the political dimension of spirituality including Alda Facio, Paca Cruz and Guadalupe Urbina, a Costa Rican singer. Mayan Guatemalan, Francisca Alvarez, lends her expertise on a feminist indigenous cosmovision. And Luisa Guadalupe shares the struggles of the small island of Vieques, Puerto Rico.
The women in this musical show claim that the present hegemonic mind-set promotes and affirms forms of life in society that are not sustainable. Just as the environmental weave that connects us to the natural world is broken when humans abuse their surroundings, so do we destroy the socio-political weave when authority is abused.In 2006, an international advisory group was created in Mexico that will “internationalize” the show by presenting it at different global events. The group is comprised of women from South Africa, Uganda, Malaysia, the Philippines, Eastern Europe, Iran, Western Europe, the United States and Canada.
Lin Devit from The Netherlands is one of the advisory group members. “I am excited (that) this project taps into the creativity of many women, past and present. It will bring to a large audience very “unscientific” knowledge, showing that rational knowledge is not everything: it is what you do with it and how you use it that makes the difference!”
The show will take to the stage in Latin America at the end of 2007 and will travel wherever in the world their curators take it in 2008.
For more information go to www.alasdemariposa.org or www.nuestrasmetamorfosis.net.
About the Author
María Suárez Toro is a journalist, feminist and human rights activist in local, and international arenas through her work as co-director of FIRE (Feminist International Radio Endeavor), a position she has held since 1991. She has covered most UN conferences since 1992, in addition to numerous other local, national and international conferences and events. She worked as a human rights activist and literacy teacher at the grassroots level in El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras in the 1970s and 1980s. María is the recipient of numerous awards for her work.
María holds a Ph D. in Education from the University of La Salle in Costa Rica, Licenciatura in Journalism from the Universidad Federada in Costa Rica, and a Masters Degree in Education from New York State University.
She was the Professor of Communications at the University of Denver from 1998-2002 as well as at the Institute for Further Education of Journalists (FOJO) in Sweden from 1995-2000.
Most recently, María has co-authored a groundbreaking book entitled, Se Vende Lindo Pais (Lovely Country for Sale), which focuses on a controversial plan by a U.S. oil company to drill for oil off the Atlantic Coast of Costa Rica, and the grassroots democratic movement organized to stop it. The book includes the voices of indigenous women and other Costa Rican and European expatriates living along the coast.