In this series of posts, we’ll be bringing you glimpses into the devising process for The Trojan Women Project. The thirteen performers involved often wrote poems, songs, dialogues, and movement pieces on the theme and ideas being explored in the rehearsal room. Sometimes they were created in the spur of the moment and other times director Rachel Hynes gave them prompts to go away and work on and then return with material. The poem in today’s post was written by Nicole Ruthmarie, who plays Nefertiti/Cassandra. Nicole actually wrote this poem at the audition, when Rachel asked the performers to create a one-minute performance of any kind about being a woman in America. Though this poem itself is not part of the final script for The Trojan Women Project, many of the ideas and experiences Nicole describes influenced and informed moments of the play.

by Nicole Ruthmarie 

She wakes up at 6 when
She fell asleep at 2
From working.
Prepped and ready
Her back straight
Her head up, despite her lack of sleep-
She don’t stop.
She paints her face to be presentable.
Paints it to hide the miserable looking lines
Called resting bitch face.
She carries magic
Uses her brush as a wand
Uses it to paint joy and light and color on her face
It takes an extra 45 minutes to perform this magic.
Her hair…
She can’t do anything with
She hides her secrets in a high bun.
She checks her phone
Hoping to find the text from the one boy
She opened her heart and legs to the other night
She finds nothing.
She forgets for a moment.
She wonders why he doesn’t see her worth.
Ponders her worth and thinks of a way to compromise this time
She thinks about making herself smaller
Maybe not so mouthy…
Chooses to wear red
And sprays perfume that smells like
Rosemary and lavender
To attract love
She tries…
To silence the doubt
With cinnamon dolce Starbucks in her hand
And Nina Simone in her ears
Focuses on her job
That pays her less than Eric
Who came in a year after her.
She thinks about complaining…
Remembers her sister in cubicle arms
Whose space is now occupied by Eric.
She thinks…
Against it.
“Always taking
Ten steps back,
One step forward”
Smiles and laughs at John
Who makes a comment about her dress
In attempt to defuse him from flirting-
It doesn’t work.
She crosses her arm over her body
Tries to cover her chest.
She’s thankful she cast a glamour spell on her lipstick
To help her sell this ingenious smile.
She regrets wearing red.
It draws too much attention.
Leaves the office two hours after Eric
Finishing up a project they both need to do
But he has a date tonight
Which is more important than their job.
Can’t help but feel the exhaustion in her bones
From all the magic she wielded today.
She checks her phone.
Still nothing.
She debates sending him another text
To add to the pile of 7 she had sent earlier.
Maybe she was too angry in the last text…
Maybe he does think she’s not worth it…
Looks up to see a man with his hood up walking towards her in a low lit street.
She regrets wearing a dress.
She regrets wearing red.
She regrets the magic she used
Unsure if she has enough energy
To expel him away from her.
But she’s going to try
She has to.
She weaves keys between her fingers
Thinking of the words to a protection spell in her head.
She clutches her phone with shaky hands,
911 ready to go.
She feels her blood rush
Her heart race
But she holds her head high
Calls on Bastet, Hera, and Oya.
Any other goddess that would help her
She Prays….
He does not want her.
She prays….
He doesn’t decide
She belongs to him.
She tries…
Not to cry.
She holds….
Her head high.
She’s so…
But she don’t stop.