Dir Notes: History has a tendency to swallow up the ordinary people and their stories, that is what I took away the most from learning about the summer of 1964 and about Mickey Schwerner, James Cheney and Andy Goodman. Those are three names that you would probably not have heard or have read about in a text book, but their lives, however brief, and their sacrifice shaped an entire summer and were a piece in a very important puzzle that became the civil rights movement in the south. We live in uncertain times and so stories about struggle and adversity, particularly when they are hand-in-hand with the subject of race in this country, are not always what we want when we sit down in a theatre. However, the more I have thought about this particular point in history I’ve come to realize it is incredibly important we continue to tell these stories because our work is not done yet.
As somebody always said… if you don’t have anything nice to say about anybody come sit by me…
This show at its core is about friendship. Yes, it takes place a beauty salon and the conversations are had by women, but my no means do I believe that this is a play solely for a female audience. When I was first approached to do this show, I think everyone, including me, thought it was going to be a breeze because “Hey… it’s Steel Magnolias how difficult could it be?”, but the fact of the matter is this play, very much like friendship, is complicated. There is a misconception, probably exacerbated by shows like “Sex and the City,” that perpetuate this idea that women’s conversations are limited to clothes and relationships. While that may be the bulk of what some women talk about it is really the minutia that make some friendships deeper than others. When sitting down to read the play for the third or fourth time I realized it was going to be a challenge because nothing really happens, and then I realized that it is not that nothing ever happens its that life happens. Sometimes it moves faster than we have time to blink, and sometimes it moves slower than you are prepared. Unfortunately, the older I get I realize that it is absolutely more the former than the latter, but the point is we seek out people to be there for us to take part in the milestone moments, and to be with us to laugh, cry, scream, and rage through the small moments. These women are intrinsically different when we meet them, but what we quickly realize is that friendship transcends age, experience, marriage, and children, because here at Truvy’s they have found their community. Finding a group of people that you can be your base self around. The people who walk into your life when the rest of the world walks out. When Robert Harling wrote this play he deliberately used two juxtaposing ideas steel (a hard grayish blue iron which is mixed with carbon to created one of the strongest materials on earth) and the magnolia (a beautiful but incredibly delicate flower that only flowers once a year) as a title for this play to honor the women in his life. Women who were tough as nails, but through even the hardest moments in their life stood firm and the strongest wind wouldn’t knock them down.
Throughout history there are periods of time that the world makes a major shift and we are scurrying to keep up with the changing times. In the 14th century it was the Renaissance, for the 18th century it was the Industrial Revolution, and most recently in the 20th century it was the 1960s.
The 1960s were the counterculture and revolution of social norms in America about clothing, music, drugs, sexuality, formality and schooling. The cultural landscape of America was changing as the Baby Boomers entered their adolescence and came to the realization that perhaps the “way things have always been…” was not how life should continue to be – the times they were a’changing. The color line was being actively blurred by activist like Medgar Evans, Malcolm X and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and segregation was not something that we were going to tolerate any longer. So too was the way we received information, with Vietnam raging oversees this was the first time that war was accessible to us live in living color in our living rooms. Women’s roles were also changing with the arrival of more women seeking higher education and the equality in the workplace granted to men.
For me the best way to reflect on all this social change was to turn on the radio. The music truly reflected the changes we were seeing our society. The transformative power of music is to express a feeling or an emotion that one can not achieve through just regular speech. “Beehive” is a celebration of a time in our history where we experimented with new ideas, thoughts and styles to figure out who we were going to be as people. The Supremes, The Angels, Tina Turner, Lesley Gore, Dusty Springfield, Lulu, Carole King, Aretha Franklin, and Janis Joplin were just a few of the women who gave young girls hope at the end of a bad date, or inspired them to want for something more. Whiles “Beehive” won’t change your life any when you walk out of the theatre tonight, it will make you look back at what has come before and appreciate where you’ve been. As the late Aretha Franklin said, “Music does a lot of things for a lot of people. It can take you right back to the moment certain things happened in your life…” I hope that everyone will hear these songs and remember that time in their life where the world shifted.
The Vagina Monologues is the award-winning play is based on V-Day Founder/playwright Eve Ensler’s interviews with more than 200 women. With humor and grace, the piece celebrates women’s sexuality and strength. Through this play and the liberation of this one word, countless women throughout the world have taken control of their bodies and their lives. For more than a decade, The Vagina Monologues has given voice to experiences and feelings not previously exposed in public and brought a deeper consciousness to the conversation around ending violence against women and girls.
We are donating 100% of the proceeds to charity. 90% of the proceeds will benefit the local charity, Sanctuary for Families, which is a leading New York service provider and advocate of domestic violence, sex trafficking and related forms of gender violence. Every year we empower thousands of adults and children move from fear and abuse to safety and stability, transforming lives through a range of comprehensive services and advocacy. The remaining 10% of the proceeds will go to support the Spotlight on Violence Against Women In the Workplace.The performance will take place on February 7th , 2017 at 7pm at The Players Theater (115 MacDougal St.).
V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money, and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day, a non-profit 501c3 corporation, distributes funds to grassroots, national and international organizations and programs that work to stop violence against women and girls. In eighteen years, the V-Day movement has raised over $100 million.
Through V-Day campaigns, local volunteers produce annual benefit performances of The Vagina Monologues to raise awareness and funds for anti-violence groups within their own communities. Each year, thousands of V-Day benefit events take place produced by volunteer activists in the U.S. and around the world, educating millions of people about the reality of violence against women and girls.
Cast: Roseanne Almanzar*, Emily Boromeo*, Wilma Cespedes-Rivera, Lisa Dontzin*, Kristin Feeney*, Morgan Paige Fluss*, Ann Harada*, Karissa Harris*, Marie Ingrisano Isner, Rebecca Larkin*, Dana Aliya Levinson, Kalia Medeiros*, Tanisha Moore, Nancy Opel*, and Janet Sarno*
* These Actors and Stage Managers are appearing courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association.