Heroines, Harpies and Harlots, a theater project born to let all who identify as female have a voice, returns for a second year with another festival of theatre pieces that delve beneath the surface of what society thinks a woman should be to find who they actually are through individual stories. They are presenting, in conjunction with the Cloverdale Performing Arts Center, a program of original works titled In Their Own Voice – a virtual on-line festival about what happens when you let a woman speak that will be available for streaming May 8 – 16.
The festival features an all femme/female-identifying/non-binary group of Sonoma County artists of varying ethnicities, races, sexualities, and ages. The festival is a true community event that seeks to give all those who identify as women a voice. “I started looking for artists in the community that I knew had stories to tell,” said Festival producer Beulah Vega, “artists who I respected as strong human beings, who I saw as people who had stared trauma in the face, and who had found ways to grow beyond it. I looked for artists who I saw turning around to help others along the way. I especially looked for artists who had something to say and were never given a chance to say it.”
Last year, Vega worked very hard at finding stories about women/female-identifying/non-binary people that were not focused on domestic or sexual violence as she believes there is more to telling someone’s story than just the worst moment of their lives.
“Yes, some of the stories that came from this are traumatizing,” said Vega, “but some stories are only focused on trauma as a way of saying “Look! You wanted to see real trauma, look at it for what it is. Now change it!” Other stories, while rooted in trauma, are about the rising from it – the pathway back to wholeness. Some of the stories don’t focus on or use trauma at all, they are stories about the experience of deciding to be oneself no matter what others say you should be, and no matter what the world does. Some are true stories about the artists themselves, some are conglomerate stories about a slew of experiences. There is dance, poetry, storytelling, and traditional theater. The voices are multi-racial. The voices are every color on the queer spectrum. The voices come in every shape and size. The one thing that they all have in common is their strength.”
Last year the Heroines, Harpies, and Harlots festival saw more than 80 women from around the country participate in its creation. For this year’s festival, 22 Sonoma County-based artists have contributed and each piece will be performed by the artists who wrote them. “With its emphasis on community and its commitment to equity in all that it does, Cloverdale Performing Arts Center was the natural choice to partner with for this year’s festival,” concluded Vega.
Festival pieces include:
The Graces: Three young teens asking themselves “what is expected of them as women and will they follow those expectations or live their own lives?” What comes out is beautiful, thoughtful, and fierce spoken-word poetry.
Barely a Person: A young mother explores the reality of Postpartum Depression through dance and the words of women world-wide who have dealt with it.
A Settled Flowing Spring: A woman in a reflection on her life, explores the divine feminine and themes of maiden-mother-crone.
Why Do You: We all do things that we are not proud of, but what about when you are acting out of fear, or insecurity, or love? Four young women talk about when they knew that their lives had gotten out of their control. At times funny and at times tragic this piece, like the women itself is heartbreaking and buoyant.
Beyond the Mask: In the time of Covid, a writer struggles to explore the deep-seated fears inhabiting the female psyche.
General Admission tickets for the one hour and twenty minute show are $25 and students tickets are $12. Ticket purchasers will be provided a link that will take you to the streaming show for a specific day/time. Some matinee performances will include a talkback following the performance.
Please note that this festival contains adult situations, adult language, and some triggering subjects. Viewer discretion is advised and the advisable ages are 13+ with adult supervision and 16+ without.
For tickets and addditional information, go to cloverdaleperformingarts.com