CSUSM theatre empowers women through “A Zoom of One’s Own” performance


Photo courtesy of CSUSM theatre department

CSUSM’s theatre department put on a virtual performance called “A Zoom of One’s Own” live from Nov. 19-21 and now available on their YouTube channel.

Jaelyn Decena, A&E Editor

The CSUSM Theatre Department livestreamed their second performance of the fall 2020 semester via YouTube, “A Zoom of One’s Own,” on Nov. 19-21. 

Written by Maria Patrice Amon and Sonia Desai, the play follows a Zoom call between multiple revolutionary women from history as they navigate between social media platforms to create an impact on their work. 

The play features the historical figures of Charlotte Cushman, played by Prim Reed; Madam CJ Walker, played by Genique Clark; Selena Quintanilla, played by Tori Diaz; La Malinche, played by Mellany Morales and Jahnsi Ki Rani, played by Ishika Muchhal. 

“A Zoom of One’s Own” combines comedy, activism, pop culture and history to provide its audience with an understanding of how powerful and impactful women truly are. Each of the characters in the play portray an intersectional identity and have had a major impact on women’s rights. 

Jahnsi Ki Rani, played by Ishika Muchhal, is an Indian warrior queen. Jahnsi Ki Rani was one of the first woman of Indian royalty to learn the art of self-defense. The play gives insight to her history, “for boys, [self-defense] was basically a requirement.” 

Because Rani was one of the only women of royalty to learn self-defense, she played a major role in the driving force behind gender equality activism and gender roles in India. 

The effort to dismantle gender roles in Indian culture is effectively portrayed in Muchhal’s performance. 

Muchhal said, “My father saw my interest in horseback riding, sword-fighting and actually encouraged and cultivated those interests instead of squashing them and sticking me back into the house.” 

Another impactful performance was that of Genique Clark, who portrayed the character of Madam CJ Walker, America’s first female millionaire. 

Clark goes into the backstory of Madam CJ Walker’s success: the importance of Black women’s hair. 

Clark said, “The world just doesn’t get it … people coming up to us asking ‘can I touch it?’ Don’t ask to touch a Black woman’s hair! I am not a doll for you to touch, and my hair is not a toy for you to play with!” 

Madam CJ Walker even provides a hair tutorial that caters to Black hair. 

This creates an important moment in Walker’s career: her success derived from her understanding how Black women’s hair works. This contrasts with the typical hair tutorials designed for those with European-sleek hair. Providing the audience with a Black hairstyle creates ample representation for Black women. 

“A Zoom of One’s Own” brings an insightful commentary on the significance of representation and female empowerment. The performance tells the important story of different women who have defied their gender’s expectations. 

The play is now available on the CSUSM theater department’s YouTube channel

Visit the theatre department’s website for upcoming events.