‘Bee Trapped Inside the Window’: Play addresses women's isolation and fear

Often our lives are so stressful that we barely see those we pass by. Women particularly tend to push their feelings, wants and needs aside just to get through the day.

In the new play “Bee Trapped Inside the Window,” Romanian playwright Saviana Stanescu examines the lives of three women, all of whom live within the margins of society, giving the audience a glimpse into their feelings of isolation.

This intimate drama focuses on the interwoven stories of a Russian émigré, her biracial daughter, and an Asian-American cleaning woman who has been trafficked into domestic service. 

Reflecting themes of isolation and connection, Stanescu's lyrical play is running at HartBeat Ensemble's Carriage House Theater in Hartford. It was originally commissioned and produced by Civic Ensemble as part of “Civic Acts: New Plays Toward the Beloved Community.”

Stanescu said the title of the play comes from the metaphor of a bee struggling for freedom while stuck inside a window.

“They can see the outdoors,” she said. “It is right there, but they are trapped.”

The play started as a shorter work performed at Ithaca College, where Stanescu serves as an associate professor of theatre arts. Since her work is intrinsically tied to activism, particularly for women and the marginalized, Stanescu calls herself an “ARTivist.”

Having been on the front lines of the Romanian revolution, Stanescu said she firmly supports freedoms for these groups. 

May is an Asian-American cleaning woman for a wealthy family with kids; Sasha is a Russian-American corporate executive with a drinking problem; and Mia is Sasha’s black daughter, who is exploring and gradually understanding her own biracial identity.

The three women spend most of the play speaking in monologues, which emphasize the isolation they all feel. It is only towards the end when they can actually see each other for their experiences. May, for example, has her plight play out right before her neighbors’ eyes. 

“Bee Trapped Inside the Window” explores the effects of modern-day domestic servitude on the lives of three women of different backgrounds and ethnicities in the leafy suburbs of Connecticut. 

Written as intercut interior monologues sliding into dialogue, it follows Mia's coming-of-age story over the course of 15 years through her relationships with her mom and her neighbor, while offering a window into the lives of domestic workers and immigrants.

Stanescu said human trafficking for domestic service is much more rampant than people realize.

“They come here on a visa, and when the visa expires they have no choice,” she said. “They often don’t have a full command of the language; they have no money, they can’t drive. They are often paid very little, and they are too afraid to ask for help.” 

"Saviana was already an award-winning playwright and journalist in Romania before she migrated to the United States,” HartBeat Ensemble Artistic Director Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr. said. “She has an unerring ear for the brutal poetry of work and isolation that haunts all women who migrate to the U.S.”

The cast of “Bee Trapped Inside the Window” features Mami Kamura, Erin Lockett and Jennifer Dorr White. The production is directed by HartBeat’s Vernice P. Miller with stage management by Rachel Russo. 

Performances run through May 8 at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

General admission tickets are $25; students, seniors and Let’s Go Arts cardholders pay $20. 

Tickets can be purchased by visiting HartBeatEnsemble.org or at door subject to availability. Masks and proof of vaccination will be required.