The Blithedale Romance adapted & directed by Sarah Stern. The Blithedale Romance is a site-specific performance piece adapted from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel about a failed 1850’s Utopian community, based on the real-life Brook Farm in Massachusetts. Two complex female protagonists form the heart of this story: the forward-thinking and passionate Zenobia, and the ghostly and delicate Priscilla, a woman with ties to occult-mesmerism. Joining them is the narrator Coverdale, a fledgling poet, and Hollingworth, a self-righteous philanthropist. Feminism, prisoner reform, the birth of a new society – all are subsumed to emotion, attraction and jealousy as ties between these four turn tangled and tragic.
Broken Dolls created & performed by actress Dawn Akemi Saito, actress Elizabeth Hess & director June Prager A work of dramatic fiction based on factual accounts of women as victims of wartime rape and human trafficking, Broken Dolls utilizes Butoh-influenced movement and extended voice techniques to explore trauma. Saito and Hess portray two women who are raped, one during war and the other when sold as a sex slave. Recollection and reenactment approach compulsion, revealing a multiplicity of unexpected responses. The women become both comforter and tormentor to each other as they strive to prevent and then relieve the deadening of the soul.
Good Heif by Maggie Smith, directed by Sarah Cameron Sunde A peculiar and riotously funny fable set in a hot, dry landscape where life consists of “diggin’, hurtin’, feelin’, not feelin’, prayin’, drinkin’, eatin’, sleepin’….” Lad lives with Ma and Pa, digging during the day and sleeping on the floor at night. Terrified and confused by the signs of his impending manhood, he asks questions. Ma, Pa and their neighbors respond with useless remedies and outsized alarm; and when growing up starts to draw him toward “what’s over thar,” beyond anything he knows or has even dreamed of, alarm accelerates to brutality. In an imagined world of rural simplicity, against a backdrop of entrenched fear and immobility, Smith has found a way to talk about the danger of ignorance, the necessity of change, and how community and propriety hold fear in place and keep societies, even the smallest ones, in check.
In The Middle, Somewhat Aggravated created & performed by choreographer/dancer Sahar Javedani, with music direction & vocals by Kate Conklin In the Middle, somewhat aggravated is an evening length dance theater work investigating Javedani’s personal assimilation of two cultures, Iran and America. Incorporating the music, art and mythology of pre- and post-Islamic Revolution Iran into her movement, text and song, she asks: “What elements of my heritage and cultural upbringing do I embrace? What are the values I uphold and those I have left behind? Where is my allegiance?” Referencing some of Iran’s greatest artistic exports – from the music of Googoosh and Delkash to the rock band 127; from 16th Century Babur miniature paintings to contemporary visual artists Shirin Neshat and Marjane Satrapi – Javedani spikes pain with satire, sensitivity with fearlessness.
Lush Valley created & directed by Kristin Marting, with video by James Scruggs & music by composer Todd Griffin Lush Valley is an emotion-driven hybrid performance which, through dance, text, movement, live music and video, examines the “American Dream” that shapes all of our ideas, hopes and fears. Using her signature directorial/choreographic form – inspired by the work of French theorist Francois Del Sarte, whose stylized approach to acting was the basis for melodrama, and by Eastern performance traditions like Katakali and Kabuki – Marting’s starting point is a vivid dream of her own filled with brutality, sexism, mythologizing and magic that she finds simultaneously horrifying and attractive.
Seven by Paula Cizmar, Catherine Filloux, Gail Kriegel, Carol K. Mack, Ruth Margraff, Anna Deavere Smith & Susan Yankowitz, directed by Gerda Stevenson Seven award-winning playwrights have joined together to create Seven, a collaborative work based upon personal interviews and oral histories of seven extraordinary women whose life work benefits the citizens of their diverse cultures: Russia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Guatemala and Cambodia. Each of the writers is responsible for a monologue about one of these women. The individual narratives are interwoven, forming a documentary theatre piece dramatizing the struggles, courageous journeys and achievements of these remarkable people who are quietly (and not so quietly) changing our world. The playwrights have pledged to give half their royalties to Vital Voices Global Partnership, an NGO that invests in emerging women leaders.