Universal We Are

LA FPI is a dream come true. I would have given my eye teeth to have had an organization like this when I was coming up in the theater and literary world. I’m performing the show I’ve written at the Hollywood Fringe on Sunday, June 27, and I hope you can come. “Now That She’s Gone” is a romp through sex, drugs and lutefisk. It’ll make you laugh, cry and think.

Theater is in my blood. I’ve been in theater since I auditioned on a fluke to play the lead (and only) chorus member in a high school production of T.S. Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral.”

It didn’t take me long to realize that the “boys” had the best parts. Oh sure, they were happy to have me be a Greek style non-named, faceless (literally) chorus for their drama but beyond that, the drama department of my experimental high school wasn’t all that experimental when it came to providing better and more parts for the girls.

So, here I am over 40 years later still appalled at the terrible casting ratios for women on screen and on stage.

So many conundrums, so little time. How do you complain about inequities, pardon the expression, with Equity (and elsewhere), without coming off like sour grapes? No one likes whiners, including the whiners. You create organizations like LA FPI and unite, that’s what you do!!!

I go to movies or plays and I see so many parts for men, so few for women. It’s not only an aesthetic problem, it’s an unemployment situation where playwrights and screenwriters virtually write poverty into their scripts; poverty for women.

Movies and plays that are dominated by males are considered “universal;” if a script by some rare circumstance is centered upon women or has a theme that’s even female friendly, it’s often relegated to the artistic “ghetto” of “chick flick” or for women only. Really? It’s seems to me that if half of the population is female, we’re pretty universal.

My show, “Now That She’s Gone” is a solo piece; an aria to my late mother. The men who see it love it as much as the women have. Nonetheless, a woman I know brought her husband one night and as he walked into the lobby, made note of the number of women there. He said something like, “I could get estrogen poisoning from being here,” called a taxi and left. Wow.

Anyway, I’m not sure if it’s such a great idea to lead off my first blog for LA FPI with such a cranky post but there you are. I’m as silly as I am crabby. You’ve got to have one to fully explore the other. I am not ashamed of my cranky pants nature!

I so hope you can see my show at the Fringe. I’m really honored to be blogging here at LA FPI and so proud of the women who create their own work.

Indeed, we are universal!

About Ellen Snortland

Ellen Snortland has her J.D. from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles and her B.A. in theater and film from University of California, Irvine. Formerly adjunct faculty in the Communication Studies department of California State University Los Angeles, she has been a broadcast journalist, actor and writing/media coach. During law school, she co-founded the country’s first all woman theater of company upon observing the paucity of women-in-charge in all aspects of theater. She has been in theater since she was 14. As a journalist, Snortland is a regular columnist for the Pasadena Weekly, contributor to Ms. Magazine and Huffington Post blogger and now, LA FPI. Ellen has been an NGO delegate to two major United Nations World Conferences: the Women’s conference in Beijing in 1995 and Conference Against Racism in South Africa in 2001. An instructor in training and on the board of the 501 c 3 Impact Personal Safety of Los Angeles, Snortland is the author of “Beauty Bites Beast: Awakening the Warrior Within Women and Girls,” a how-come book about women’s personal safety. She is currently at work on a new book, “The Safety Godmothers” with her co-author and colleague, Lisa Gaeta of Impact Personal Safety. Ms. Snortland is also directing a documentary by the same name. She has also written and performs a solo show entitled, “Now That She’s Gone” which was nominated for a Pulitzer. She’s a professional writing coach for first time authors in private consultation or at one of her in-home classes. She lives in Altadena, CA with her beloved husband, Ken Gruberman and their two dogs.

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