Poet, Playwright, Workshop Facilitator
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Our Voices Blog

Our Voices Festival Explores Theatre as a Medium for Social Change this Saturday

In Our Voices "Act II" - Arlington Based True Story Theater will perform audience stories in response to the plays

In Our Voices "Act II" - Arlington Based True Story Theater will perform audience stories in response to the plays

Welcome to the tenth year of Our Voices Festival of Boston Area Women Playwrights this Saturday night! I'm excited for you to join us at 6:30 p.m. in the Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre, Wellesley College - here's why:

·      Our theme is Theatre as a Medium for Social Change

·      Ten Boston area women playwrights will present monologues or short plays

·      You’ll experience diverse female protagonists in dramatic roles

·      True Story Theater will perform audience responses in our “Act II” following the plays

·      We’re celebrating our 10th anniversary of nourishing Boston area women playwrights

·      It’s FREE & open to the public!


In producing this tenth year celebration, I've been inspired by Diane Paulus and the A.R.T. I've selected a theme: Theatre as a Medium for Social Change. After attending the A.R.T.'s production of Eve Ensler's In the Body of the World last spring, I was deeply moved by Diane's commentary published in WBUR's Cognocenti in July 2016: It's Time To Merge Art And Audience In Quest For Social Change from her address to the Americans for the Arts convention in Boston shortly after the murders in Orlando, in which she speaks about the relationship between art "and the world beyond the stage":

I also make theater because it can take us to places we’ve never been before. To worlds that are not familiar, to perspectives and stories that are not our own. Through the use of narrative and character, we can achieve empathy — which can lead us to identify with a point of view that is not our own. Living in the world at this very moment, I cannot imagine an action more vital to our survival — other than love — than empathy. Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. To experience from within another person’s frame of reference. To get inside their skin. . .
— Diane Paulus

In this year's evening Our Voices staged readings, ten Boston area women playwrights will present monologues or short plays, including: Andrea Fleck Clardy, Deniz Khateri, Hortense Gerardo, Griffen Hoyle, Ann Marie Shea, Phyllis Rittner, Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro, Kelly DuMar, Johanna Skouras, and Lida McGirr.

You’ll experience diverse female protagonists in dramatic roles. For instance, in Hijab, a 10-minute play by Andrea Fleck Clardy, you’ll witness an encounter between the most popular girl in her high school and one of the few Muslim students who wears a head scarf and was the focus of an internet joke. Focusing on our theme of theater as a medium for social change, Andrea says in her Artist Statement:

If my play could challenge something, I would like it to be the ease of our assumptions, the things we think we know about a girl in a hijab or a boy with a nose ring or a woman who is overweight or a man who has very dark skin. This play is about misunderstandings. It is also and perhaps more importantly, about how starting a conversation, making a connection, can change everything. Even if you start with wrong information or for misguided reasons, everything changes when two people talk honestly with each other. That is something I strongly believe.
— Andrea Fleck Clardy

How Our “Act II” Involves You

As the founder and producer of Our Voices, I’ve always sought to have the festival promote cultural change to bring more diverse stories to the stage by women. I’m originally a psychotherapist trained in applied theatre as a therapeutic modality. As a healer and a playwright, I’m a passionate believer that everyone’s story is deeply meaningful and telling it can lead to personal and societal transformation. So, this year we'll include an "Act II" in the festival, inspired once again by Diane Paulus and the A.R.T.'s vision:

For several seasons now, A.R.T.’s series of curated discussions Act II has invited audience members to connect the work onstage to the wider world. We purposefully use the term “Act II” because we view this event as an essential part of the theatrical performance. When it is called “Act II”, the ushers and production staff do not view this time as “extra.” They do not look at their watches and clock this post-show time as an addition to what they are normally asked to do. Our Act IIs are directed as if they are part of the show; A.R.T.’s stage becomes a public forum for audiences, artists, activists and scholars, who work together, in dialogue, to connect the themes of each production to contemporary conversations in politics, science and beyond.
Playback Theatre in Action with Arlington Based True Story Theater

Playback Theatre in Action with Arlington Based True Story Theater

So, in the service of involving the audience, I've invited True Story Theater to perform audience responses in our “Act II” following the plays

About True Story Theater

True Story Theater is a nonprofit theater company that offers 50-75 improvisational performances and workshops a year for community groups, businesses, and individuals mostly in the greater Boston area. We work with hospitals, universities, corporations, religious communities… with teen leaders, cancer survivors, activists, philanthropists, business leaders… as well as for weddings, birthdays, and other private events.

Our mission is to build empathy and respect in community through honoring all of our true stories.

In performances, volunteers from the audience are helped to share what’s important in their lives. On the spot, actors then portray the heart of what they heard using music, movement, and dialogue. From this simple interaction, people laugh, cry, share fresh insights, and bond. Our events create a respectful atmosphere where every voice can be heard and any story told — however ordinary or extraordinary, difficult or joyful. True Story Theater offers audiences fresh perspectives, deeper connections, and a renewed appreciation for our common humanity.

The festival is held in The Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre, through the generosity of Wellesley College, which is located in Alumnae Hall, Wellesley College, 106 Central Street, Wellesley, MA. There is free parking and the theatre is wheelchair accessible. For more information, contact Kelly DuMar at (508) 647-0596 or e-mail kellydumar@gmail.com.

I hope you'll join us!

I hope you'll join us!