Winters Theatre Company captures Elly Awards

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By BEV SYKES/Special to the Express

Two local theater companies earned Elly Awards, announced by the Sacramento Area Regional Theatre Alliance at its adult-awards ceremony last weekend.

Shahzana Ali won the supporting actress award in the drama category for her performance in Winters Theatre Company’s “SEVEN.”

Woodland Opera House’s John Bowles won for sound design in “Guys and Dolls.”

“SEVEN” is a documentary play, based on interviews with seven women around the world who have fought for the rights and well-being of women and girls.

Ali played Mukhtar Mai, gang-raped by four men in Pakistan, who stood up to her attackers and brought them to justice, built schools to improve the condition of women, and became an advocate for education in her country.

The organization she founded is the champion defender of women’s rights and education in the southern region of Punjab Province, Pakistan.

“The play was so close to my heart,” said Ali, thanking SARTA for the award. “I understand more now what women around the world go through and as I go forward, I am trying to work harder for things in life.”

Carla Fleming and Fran Wittman also were nominated for the supporting actress award.

Director Anita Ahuja was thrilled with the three nominations and the award for Ali.

“Of all the shows I’ve worked on, this is the one I would want to be recognized because of its critical human-rights message and its focus on the horrific struggles women face around the globe,” Ahuja said.

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