Words get in the way sometimes, and other times there aren’t enough. Linguistics is a fundamental aspect of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Machine learning requires words. What makes me wonder is how can we teach machines to learn to communicate when basic communication between two people can sometimes be problematic.
YouTube has volumes of videos (TedTalks, for example) on brain studies. This one is from Nature. It describes the map of the brain that respond to specific words.
What is language? It is a tool for communicating as one definition. When I studied computer science I had to learn programming languages, including machine language. Programming languages look like written English, and is a “higher” form (not better, just human looking) of language. It’s “higher”, because it sits further away from the native machine language which is made up of a series of 1s and 0s (ones and zeroes). Yes, like the background of blinking 1s and 0s in the rolling credits of “The Matrix”.
Imagine a virtual meeting. The participants are from different time zones, cultural backgrounds and speak varying native tongues. We speak English in the meeting and our purpose is to talk about a project. Twenty minutes into the meeting, the business leader messages me. “I can’t do this.” I know what the person is saying. As we listen to the presenter talk about the status and plans, we’re both trying hard to listen to what’s being said. But it’s really awful, because the sentences taste like sawdust. It’s completely dry and without meaning to us. What needs to be said is not being said.
He’s hiding behind words. It is like being taken for a ride and you want to get off now. I feel sad for him, but he hasn’t been listening and watching for clues and signals. It started weeks ago. The meeting prior to this one, the business leader was practically shouting (not literally, but he communicated clearly without raising his voice) what he needed to hear and see. The project is delayed. Everyone sees the days, hours and minutes marching closer to a deadline, and the budget dwindling down.
That’s one example, and something I’ve seen and experienced at other times before. I’ve been in a similar situation when I couldn’t reach the other person. In hindsight, I now recognize my mistake. I was stubborn. I could, at the time, only see the situation through my lenses. I wonder now why was I being so obstinate. It was immaturity on my part to butt heads with someone equally stubborn as me. It would’ve been better to compromise and acknowledge our differing views and methods of solving a problem. The game was a draw, a stalemate. We reset the board and started over. My head hurt harder, but I think I built resilience in the process and I am better for it.
Life is a kind of game. We play with each other and if we can play well together, we can have fun and create something profound. But if we can’t play together then we either disengage and go separate ways and find another playmate. The playmate we seek is someone who can speak our language with or without words – one who just gets you (or doesn’t). They can even try to “get you”, but sometimes our personal prejudices also block communication. Our “unconscious” behaviors block us from receiving the signals from the other person. Is it a signal that I don’t have my voicemail set up? Only that I have a preferred method of communicating – in person conversation or if it can wait then email or text me. This is a technology choice. There are so many options, and I choose not to use one of them. What I really mean by “unconscious” behavior of blocking could be a level of open mindedness to listen to another point of view. There’s listening and there’s being in agreement to what you hear. How much of what is heard resonates in you? How deeply does it jive with your vibe? How open is your heart?
Why do I want to communicate? What’s my purpose to share?
I searched for the 80/20 Rule in communication and found this one from a sales perspective.
The most important principle of active listening is to concentrate all your attention and energy on the task of listening to and understanding what is being said to you. The 80/20 rule of active listening says that in any sales conversation the sales rep should spend 80% of the time listening and only 20% of the time talking. In the vast majority of cases, the customer doesn’t want to know what you think, he wants to tell you what he thinks, how he feels and what he needs.
In a business environment, I communicate to sell an idea, to get a “buy in”, so both parties can agree to move forward or change as needed, but stay in partnership.
I’m daunted in my creative writing project to tell a story in play form. Mostly it’s the dialogue that stumps me. How can I make the dialogue authentic and interesting? Plain, simple and honest communication is truthful. Maybe it’s hard to get to the truth, because of the filters we have that shades the truth from shining through. The filters of protection and guise that cast the shadows and lights – the tragedies and comedies of being human. When I write, I watch for what it is I’m running away from (like, Oooo that one hurts, not ready to touch that one yet).
Can a machine touch someone’s heart? Maybe, one day. Sadly, sometimes, I wonder if talking with a machine is all that a person has to keep them from being lonely.
It sounded so idylic: ten days on Nantucket, and then two and a half weeks in Maine. All that time devoted to one thing: revision.
I’m working on my first adult novel, a mystery set in Theodore Roosevelt’s White House. The first draft is too long – 368 pages and still lacking a last scene. It’s a mess.
This year has been full of chaos with running a tiny publishing company, producing a pair of podcasts, and then five family members developed health issues. It’s been difficult to concentrate.
But I had those two trips to look forward to, away from the many fires that demand immediate attention, and I would use them to whip my novel into shape.
I was afraid to look at the pages. I’d written the first draft a year ago. What if it was awful? What if I couldn’t figure out how to fix it? Should I just burn the darned thing and eat lobster and enjoy myself?
After talking myself off the ledge, I remembered how I edit. And that’s what I’ll share with you.
PRINT IT OUT
A play or novel looks completely different in other formats.
I write on my laptop, but edit on paper. (I know, I know. I’ve sacrificed trees for this book. All the more reason to make the editing count.)
You see things differently when a book is on the screen vs on a piece of paper. It’s tactile. There is something satisfying about crossing out duplicate words with a red pen or watching a stack of pages dwindle as you read and reread and edit. (The only downside: my carryon bag was particularly heavy since I insisted on dragging my printed copy with me on the plane.)
READ THE DAMN THING
I write in short spurts. A scene here, a chapter there. I don’t make a habit of going back over my work again and again and again.
But editing begins with looking at the project as a whole. Does it make sense? What’s missing? Are there duplicate scenes?
I don’t immediately fix these problems, just note them in a separate notebook. I just keep reading.
WHAT’S IT REALLY ABOUT?
I knew that underneath the mystery, the book is really about a daughter’s lifelong effort to get her father’s attention and approval. Upon re-reading my manuscript, I was satisfied with the emotional underpinnings of the story. What I was lacking was a plot that made sense.
I started making lists, outlining the various murder plots, the actual clues and the red herrings. I followed main characters through the story – their locations, their motivations. I found holes and noted them in my notebook. More things to fix.
FIX THE BIG STUFF FIRST…OR NOT
After looking at plot holes, I had a good idea of what needed fixing and decided to tackle that first. Rereading the entire work made it clear what was important and what was not. I eagerly picked up my red pen and got to work.
But there were other problems that had no immediate solution. I needed to sleep on it or take a long walk or a swim, distract myself long enough for my brain to figure out a solution.
In the meantime, I tackled the small stuff I’d listed in my notebook. How many children DID Mrs. Caldwell have? Was it eight or nine? What was the name of the bank owned by Mr. Johnston? What was the rank of that police officer? It was just as satisfying fixing little things as it was solving big problems. And fixing the small stuff gave me courage to attack the big stuff.
KILL YOUR FAVORITES
Writers are always telling us to be brutal in editing, to not be afraid to kill our darlings. I’m not that brave. I marked up my paper copy. But when I have reliable internet and make those changes in the master script on my laptop, I will save all those edited scenes in my Leftover file. I’m braver about making changes if I know that I can always go back and put that scene back in the main manuscript. Or use it in another book.
I’m a member of THREE writing groups. I also regularly swap drafts with yet another set of writers. It’s invaluable to have another set of eyes on our work. There are just some things we are blind to, things we skip over. They tell us when they don’t understand a plot point or the physical action in an action scene or the motivations of a character. They tell us when things are dragging, when a line is funny, whether the ending is satisfying.
KNOW WHEN TO STOP
At some point, we have to admit to ourselves that our work will never be perfect. We have to share it with the world and take the consequences. What’s the worst that can happen? An agent will reject us. Or three. Or a hundred. We decide to self-publish and get a one star review on Amazon. (At least someone took the time to read the darned book!) None of our siblings will buy the book and never ask about it at Thanksgiving. (Good. They’ll never know we named the villain after them.)
Be brave. Write your cover letter and your synopsis. Polish them. And send out your baby into the world. It’s time.
Kitty’s many plays have been produced around the world. Two are available in print. These days, she writes The Fina Mendoza Mysteries series of books and podcast for kids.
I’ve been in this cycle lately where I compare myself to other people, which inevitably sends me into a depression, which then shoots me into a “not to worry, I’ll just work even harder!” and then into a depression again. I have the straight-A-student mindset (curse) where I need to know where I stand in the “class.” I organize my dreams like a to-do list in my planner, as if once I achieve them I will graduate into something else, or win at this writing thing or win life in general.
I know intellectually that every writing career looks different, and that we aren’t in competition, but emotionally I get fixated on moments where I fell short or was not ready for an opportunity or didn’t follow up and be loud about what I wanted or just plain failed. And then that failure and self-loathing become my entire personality for a bit. (Sorry to all my friends.) And those fixations make me blind to anything I actually have accomplished or to the potential of the current moment.
As a way to try to break this cycle and to put moments of my life in a little perspective, I’ve started a spreadsheet called “My Life’s Work.”
On one tab I am listing all my short fiction, any awards or publications each story has received, word count, and year (sometimes a guess-imate) when it was written. I’m also including any stories I still have a full draft of that I shelved permanently, maybe never submitted for publication at all, that will never see the light of day again. They live on in the spreadsheet as a lovely grey row – because writing those failed stories were part of my education. Many of them I wrote as a baby writer, often with little to no real mentorship or community, and so my own words were teaching me what I knew. There are 44 stories so far on the list.
On another tab I’m listing all the full-length plays I’ve written, which are easier to track in their lumbering size. Outside of productions, awards, readings, etc, I try to list where I wrote it and what year. There are two grey-ed out plays on this list – one that was terrible and could never work (I took one of the characters from that and put him in another play), and the other I’m turning into a novella. So nothing is wasted, but I can see how those failed plays taught me some hard lessons. I’ve color-coded the others too – ones I think are actually solid, ones I wrote with Rogue Artists Ensemble (my home theatre company), ones that are “eh,” and ones I think are still in their development “has potential” phase. At this moment I’ve written 18 full length plays. Maybe greying out only two of them is being overly generous, lol.
Other tabs are starting to collect short plays (which are, for me, harder to trace and harder to remember), screen and audio and mixed media stuff, and directing.
I think I was drawn to doing this because I stopped journaling years ago. I need a way to reflect and process how I’ve spent my creative life. The narrative in my head can easily twist into “I just threw away the last three years – I did nothing!” but when I look at the spreadsheet I can actually see what I was actively working on, what led to a triumph the following year, or what ended in failure but what led to something better. Being able to step back and actually look at a map like this, to try to see the bigger picture and shape of my energy, has already helped calm me down and give myself some GRACE.
There is a danger, of course, of something like this just reinforcing the habit of straight-A-student syndrome, of racking up the numbers and comparing them to other people’s life work that I can’t and never will see the depth of. But I intend and will work to keep it as a tool for Grace, a tool to understand how I traveled to this moment, so I can best prepare and celebrate the work ahead.
I understand that this is very career and creative project-focused (but this IS a blog about writing after all), and does not (yet) include other life things, like the goings-on of family and friends and travel and day jobs and hobbies. And to best think through those things, I’ll probably need to start journaling again.
Your “life’s work” is never just your actual work, of course. But I’ve started here because, like any little drama kid, I’ve marked phases of my life in whatever-play-I-was-working-on-at-the-time. This is how life makes sense to me because it’s how I’ve demarcated and oriented myself in time since I was 14.
Your “work” is not all there is of you, but I think for a writer or creator it is a part of you; you can trace your growth and sadness and curiosities as you trace the stories you were working on at any given moment. Even without writing a memoir, I’ve written a memoir.
This exercise might not be helpful for everyone. But I can guarantee, if you’re feeling like you haven’t done enough, haven’t accomplished enough, that you are lightyears behind everyone else, you are probably ignoring huge chapters of your story. Maybe you need to take a step back and give yourself some grace.
Here’s to a life’s work that is never done until it is, well, done.
“The writer’s job is to be brave enough to be nostalgic.”
I heard those words from an English professor once. At the time, they resonated with me as someone who is often referred to as a nostalgic person—always bringing up a story of the past, over and over again. I come from a family & community that shares and retells all kinds of stories every time we see each other, whether they’re laugh-out-loud funny or overwhelmingly heart-wrenching. Storytelling has always been a way for me and my community to record our histories and form connections when it feels like there are only differences.
That’s probably why I became a theater artist & playwright.
That being said, I recently had the thought, “I’m getting so tired of writing and talking about the pandemic.”
I guess it’s difficult to feel nostalgic about terrifying moments in the past, especially if it feels like they’re still happening. The uncertainty, anxiety, and grief of the last three years is still so fresh that the retelling of it can feel not only exhaustingly overdone, but terrifying to grapple with. For so many of us, the pandemic exposed some of the most vulnerable, heart-breaking, unlikeable parts of ourselves. It separated us from our communities—which are often our lifelines—and forced us to deal with momentous social & political shifts while in physical solitude. Who wants to remember all of that?
But yet, the idea of “returning to normalcy” in this current moment of endemic is insulting to the millions of humans who are not the same people they were before 2020, and all of us who have lost friends & family & community members.
So where is the middle ground? Is there a middle ground? When & how do we as artists become brave enough to remember?
These questions and the words of that English professor were swimming in my head when I talked with Lisa Sanaye Dring about her new play, Hungry Ghost, directed by Jessica Hanna and premiering at Skylight Theatre Company for the final installment of their “Her Voice, Her Vision” 40th Anniversary Season. A play that centers the lives of a couple getting ready to start a family, a hauntingly humorous hermit, and a secluded house in the woods, Hungry Ghost invites audiences to meditate on ideas of true freedom, isolation from community, and the hilarity of tragedy.
So as weary as I am of the pandemic, after my meeting with Lisa & Jess, I was reminded of the importance & inherent absurdity of processing, looking back on, and learning lessons from resiliency & loss.
Carolina Pilar Xique: Lisa—What inspired you to write this piece and how has it grown since its inception?
Lisa Sanaye Dring: It’s very beautiful for me because I found out I got into the Humanitas Stage Raw Group led by Shem Bitterman and Steven Lee Morris in April, 2020. And we all know what was going on then. *laughs*
I was so heartened because at that moment I didn’t know if I was still going to make art, and it was a lifeline for me to be like, “Oh no, you will be writing in this time!”
But I didn’t know what I was going to write.
I was watching a video article in “The Atlantic,” a story about the North Pond Hermit, Christopher Thomas Knight, who lived in the forest for 27 years and survived by pilfering from vacation homes. He would come out in the summer and get little supplies, get oil, and then he’d hibernate in the winter and just camp out in his location. I was really moved by him because I was isolated from my community at that time, and I found it to be excruciating at moments. And he went to isolation and found solitude and freedom.
He did an interview with “GQ “and quoted Thomas Merton; he talked about how when one is without reflection, one can become truly free. I thought about that impulse—that one’s true self is only without one’s community. And I thought about how we as theatre people make meaning inside community. And then it sort of distilled into this play, which is about someone who is about to be in community in a huge way because of birth. She’s about to grow a family with a woman she loves and is facing her own feelings of isolation and alienation from community, and has to encounter those two poles—to be with people and to be alone. She’s forced into this decision via her pregnancy.
Carolina:Jessica—What has the rehearsal process been like and how have your thoughts about the play evolved since you had first read it?
Jessica Hanna: It’s been a super collaborative room. Lisa has been really participatory and open to the collaboration and the questions that come up for both myself and the actors. We’ve been really heavily working on this play for some months, but in June, we did a workshop and did some really hardcore work of talking about the play, Lisa writing new pages, and trying new things .
I would say that the idea of “theater being a great experiment” is really alive in this room. I keep talking to the cast that being in this place of, “I don’t know,” is a really fertile, exciting, creative space. And it’s also deeply uncomfortable and sometimes can cause anxiety. I feel very lucky because nobody in the room is dictating what anything has to be. So the richness of the possibility feels heightened in our room. And there’s also the reality of like, this is the baby’s first walk, right? So I hope there’s another evolution of this play that is learned from these moments.
Lisa: Shout out to Boston Court Playwrights Group—they have also workshopped the piece with me over the last year, in addition to the Humanist Stage Raw Group. In this time where it’s so hard to make a play and harder for producers to get stuff up, it’s been a huge boon to this piece to have so many amazing minds and hearts of the theater pay attention to it as it grows, including Jess’s, including Skylight.
Carolina: How has it been balancing the hilarity and the weight of these themes, in both the writing and the directing process?
Lisa: I just think things should be funny. I think all plays should be funny. And I think these actors are really sensational at giving us humor and joy. I was taught in theater school, “You can’t make them cry unless you make them laugh.” Straight drama is easier than laughter because you can’t really fake laughter. Like you can hear that difference of really making an audience crack up as opposed to the sort of chuckles that you hear that where they’re helping a comedy be pushed along. And there’s so much play in the room that creates a really beautiful space where people can unfurl with each other and genuinely be with each other. And I think all these layers of trust is also helped by [intimacy coordinator] Carly Bones. My job is just giving them enough material that they can play with to make it happen.
Jessica: Yeah. You have to have the light to have the shadow, right? For talking about grief, sometimes the best thing to do is to talk about the ridiculousness of life or to have that present in order to actually really feel those things. I think we’ve got a nice balance going. I find it [the play] funny. These three players, they’re all hilarious in their own, very distinct ways. And to give them space to find their funny or to be their funny selves makes them more human. Even the fantastical, possibly mystical character still has got to be based in some kind of reality for us to understand him and to bond with him.
Lisa: I find that laughter, humor, and play are paradigm-shifting and paradigm-breaking. So I’m hoping there is also a deep cognitive experience that happens with the humor. I’m hoping that this play celebrates the wisdom of this. We were talking with one of our actors about how this one character is light because they’ve had to be—they’ve had to cultivate a levity because the world is just so bizarre for them. And I think that there’s a deep beauty in the resilience of humor.
Jessica: I just want to also say that Lisa is very funny, straight up. *laughs* But also, there’s something really gorgeous about Lisa’s work. There are times as an audience member where your breath is taken away by the beauty that’s being brought to life through words, and then all of a sudden it’ll be, like, some left turn. You can’t help but laugh out loud. It knocks you out because the broken expectations are so exciting. That kind of duality is one of the really exciting things about Lisa’s writing.
Carolina: Why this play today, right now?
Lisa: I mean, I just got to play my first lead in [director/playwright] Jen Chang’s play this year, and I’ve been acting for a while. And so to be an Asian American actor who’s been a character actor their whole life and to create a big role for Jenny Soo is an honor, because Jenny Soo’s such a tremendous performer.
But I think it’s tricky because I don’t really write from that place of, “What does the world need?” I try to metabolize the world in a sincere way, and then write what’s in my heart and then be mindful of it along the way. And thankfully, I don’t have to make the decision whether to produce it or not, or have to be a critic, you know what I mean? The world will tell me if the world needs it, if that makes sense. I think as an artist, one just needs to be really deep in themselves and to try to be honest and as alive as possible, and then make what’s in their heart responding to their moment right now.
Jessica: I think the play also speaks to this place of grief and that processing that we are all in. I talk about theater as being the art form where we can work on, or build the worlds we want to live in, or try things out, or see examples of what we want to push back against in terms of the world around us. And I think watching characters make hard choices that are right for themselves, seeing an Asian American woman make those choices for herself and question and be a human is really important right now. It always is. But I mean, in particular, I think it is now.
Hopefully we continue having more awareness and revelations as a society, but also white people—myself included—are paying attention in a different way. This idea of the Hungry Ghost, which is a cultural phenomenon in many cultures… this idea of something that comes from grief not being taken care of, or not being cared for, and that it comes back at you, or that it haunts you—at least that’s why I’m interpreting it—I think that’s very appropriate for right now. Because the question of, “Are we going to take care of ourselves and our grief in this period of change after massive, massive upheaval and death?” I think is a big question. Are we going to fertilize the ground with our knowledge, or are we going to just try to go on and not deal with what’s been happening around us? That’s a question I think about when working on this play.
Carolina: What has the process been like working with Skylight for their “Her Vision, Her Voice” theme for the 40th anniversary?
Lisa: It’s really great. I really loved working with Skylight. I mean, this is of course playwright-centric, but their notes have been really good. They’ve helped the piece grow, and I felt like they understood what the piece was and gave me a lot of space to figure it out. But I really resonate with a simpatico of artistic vision, in terms of what the possibility of the piece is and where we all think it’s going. I felt like they—Tyree [Marshall] and Gary [Grossman] and Armando [Huipe] and everybody there right now—intuited and grokked what the piece could be when they read it almost a year ago. I’ve been really grateful for that.
And then it also felt, artistically, like an appropriate birth in terms of like trusting the vision. Jess came in with a workshop model that I’d never done before that was really beautiful. Because Jess is the director, she had a vision for this, and I feel like that started us off on a really good fit of trust and respect. And I also wanna say Jess is a really seasoned producer herself, so I think she makes producer’s lives easy. *laughs*
Jess, what do you think?
Jessica: Uh, I don’t know. You’re gonna have to ask Gary about that later this week. *laughs*
But I wanna just echo what Lisa’s saying in terms of the support. There’s been a lot of striving to make dreams come true as much as possible, which has been really kind of extraordinary. They’ve been really, really great about trying to figure things out and give us as much as they can. I love the fact that they’re doing this season, that we’re part of this season. It’s really exciting that they will have brought three new plays to life in a year. And the fact that they’re all plays by women is the extra cherries on top. So yeah, I hope people are inspired by it and see it as something to that they could also do. I hope it’s something that catches on.
The final installment in Skylight’s all femme-penned season, the World Premiere of “Hungry Ghost” by Lisa Sanaye Dring, directed by Jessica Hanna, runs at Skylight Theatre from August 26th to October 1st, 2023, with previews on August 19, 20, & 25. For tickets and information, visit https://skylighttheatre.org/event/hungry-ghost/.
I appreciate how each woman owned their stories, because it’s not easy to experience a transgression, process and synthesize into an art form. The women describe their unique circumstances of places, names and situations that reveal a loss of innocence – violating their personal physical space – the vagina; breaking trusts in their relationships and understanding of the world; and weaving those pain points towards growth and renewal.
As each story unfolds, the heroine breaks out of the cocoon of blame and shame towards an emerging butterfly with fluttering wings of release like breathing out a breath that’s been held too long. One wonders, how we survive devastating and creepy actions towards the yoni, which is not just an anatomical part, the “birthing canal”. The yoni is sacred. In Sanskrit, it is the “abode”, “source”, “womb” or “vagina”; symbolic of the goddess Shakti, the consort or Shiva.
The woman's body
is the first world to the newborn.
The child's projections of anima
will be of her from then on.
- from the "A Joseph Campbell Companion", selected & edited by Diane K. Osbon
Together, the Shakti and Shiva are both the male and female aspect of God. Shiva, the tranquil, inactive state, while Shakti is the dynamic aspect of God. – Swami Shraddhandanda.
Destiny is “simply the fulfillment of the potentialities of the energies in your own system” – Joseph Campbell. When a man (or anybody) either through ignorance or hatred violates the yoni, the transgression is not only against the other, but to themselves also, because it’s the killing of the potential that is innate in their own being.
When a woman realizes that the power is within her, then the man emerges as an individual, rather than just being an example of what she thinks she needs. On the male side, when a man looks at a woman and sees only somebody to go to bed with, he is seeing her in relation to a fulfillment of some need of his own and not as a woman at all. It’s like looking at cows and thinking only of roast beef.
Joseph Campbell from “A Joseph Campbell Companion” Reflections on the Art of Living, selected and edited by Diane K. Osbon
These are the musings I had while watching the story telling of the women bravely owning their stories and laying it out like Tarot cards to be read, interpreted and manifested. I particularly enjoyed the choreography on the stage and each actor wearing a bright hue of the rainbow: blue, green, yellow and red.
“This Mudra is used to worship Devi Durga. It has many benefits. The Yoni Mudra helps in quieting the mind of the practitioner. Practicing this helps the nervous system to be calmed and stabilized, allowing you to redirect your attention inward.”
Yes. Due to the $1 billion dollar market for the BARBIE movie, Mattel has decided to issue a “limited edition” of the Weird Barbie that was featured in the movie. You have until August 15 to pre-order your $50 Weird Barbie.
Some might say Weird Barbies are made, not sold. Mattel, however, begs to differ.
The toy company behind the iconic Barbie brand has announced a signature doll modeled after Kate McKinnon’s character from Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster “Barbie.” In the movie, McKinnon’s character helps send Margot Robbie’s Barbie on her journey.
“Barbie” is produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, which is owned by CNN’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery.
The limited-edition toy features a hot pink outfit almost identical to the one McKinnon wears in the movie, complete with markings on her face and oddly cut and colored hair “to emulate a doll that’s been played with just a little too much,” Mattel said in the product description.
The doll is one of seven products in an expanded collection stemming from the billion-dollar hit movie, including various Barbie and Ken dolls modeling outfits they wore on-screen and a Hot Wheels corvette set.
“With the latest editions to the collection, we are offering even more ways for fans to immerse themselves in Barbie Land and celebrate the characters and stories they see on screen,” Lisa McKnight, Mattel’s executive vice president and chief brand officer, said in a statement. “Barbie continues to be the cultural event of the summer, and as we chart Mattel’s path forward, she will continue to serve as an icon of empowerment and inspiration for generations to come.”
Weird Barbie is available to pre-order on Mattel’s website for $50 until August 18 and is expected to be shipped by the end of May 2024.
By Eva Rothenberg, CNN Published 8:34 PM EDT, Mon August 7, 2023
I haven’t been to a movie theatre in over three years, and this month, dear friends convinced me to go see it. It was a shock to the nervous system to encounter a movie theatre again. After being masked everywhere, and not being in an indoor event since 2019, the experience had a strange dream-like tone. It was a matinee, and it was packed, and I was a stranger in a strange land.
I read some commentary about/protesting the BARBIE movie – and I had no desire to see it. But my husband Eric had died in June, and I was stumbling through the fog of grief, and my friends were helping me ease out of the house. (I did not want to ease out of the house.) I was not a fan of the Barbie doll, although I do remember one Christmas where Santa gifted me a Barbie. I thought she was very inflexible and pointy. Also I lost her shoes right away. And she wasn’t much fun to play with, as her facial expression seemed inaccessible to me. The Weird Barbie character in the movie seemed fun, if somewhat contrived, as if one of my hippie girlfriends from the 1970s showed up at a fashion show.
But – it was amazing to witness the pink girl power in the audience. There was loud cheers for this story about a doll that wants to be a human. And there was laughing and hooting and clapping in the audience, which was fun, but also perplexed me. I appreciated the cheeky performances, and even the young men sitting next to us were getting all worked up about Ken’s identity crisis. I think they might have enjoyed the movie more than I did.
It was a great experience to actually leave the house and take the risk to go see something. After living the life of a 24/7 caretaker for the last few years, I’d lost my link to live performances. (I may work up the nerve to so see some theatre in October – still working through some issues about this transition.) And it was great to see a successful movie directed by a woman, with a smattering of jibes about beauty, identity and patriarchy. (Although – it did remind me of eating cotton candy at the circus – that strange sensation of eating a sticky sugary hair-like confection in vibrant colors .)
What surprised me, and what I most appreciate, is that feeling of women in the audience, hearing a story that vibrates with them – even if it doesn’t vibrate with me – and the delight in hearing people laugh again.
I had never thought of it before. I’ve worked as a Director. I’ve worked as an actor with a Director, but as a playwright, it’s been limited to the extent that I knew what I was supposed to do. That being said, I’ve had a run through almost every job in theater and was always willing to learn. I’ve had opportunities to watch great work being created. Trying to pay attention to what was being asked and what the response was. But this time, as I worked with the director as the playwright, I felt invigorated, ready for re-writes.
Do you ever have a moment when your brain is just working and working and you think “I should probably write this down”, but it’s 4 am and you don’t want to get out of bed, so you think I’ll remember later. Then you fall back asleep and when you wake up hours later you have completely forgotten about this moment and wonder if it was all a dream because it was effin brilliant and no one will know.
My subconscious was working overtime because I was considering a text I received from my director the night before which messed up my thought process and made me rethink and almost rewrite the entire play. (I haven’t yet because I only have a few days before my draft is due and making the change would be a whole new play). So my question is, when do you know to completely scrap and make substantial changes?
My mind returned to the previous day when I met with the director of my workshop reading, I talked about the play. More like babble, because I didn’t really know what to say. I just started talking. This was the first time I had an opportunity to talk about what I’ve been working on for the past 6 months with someone who’d read the play and I really didn’t know where to start. He asked questions of me and I tried my best to answer in the moment. I explained thought processes behind the scenes and characters without being prompted, I just wanted to make sure I was being understood. That and I just had to say it out loud. To hear my thoughts aloud instead of just mere mumblings to myself in my head. Was I trying to convince my director, or was I simply telling him facts? By the time our meeting was over I was confident to make minor changes to address comments and questions from my cohort.
Then, as I sat with my laptop, ready to open Final Draft, my phone dings.
At a recent Company of Angels’ table read of a colleague’s play, I recognized one of the actresses. I had met her nearly a decade and half earlier at a different reading. That reading was in New York City where I had been one of the readers, and she had been the award-winning NYU Tisch screenwriter to have her work presented by Pan Asian Repertory Theatre and Asian CineVision. Maikiko James has since moved back home to California, eventually making her way to Los Angeles as an artist, activist, and arts administrator. She is now the Senior Director of Programs at Women In Film (WIF) —amongst the many hats that she wears.
After meeting up for a coffee re-connection, coincidence soon revealed itself as kismet. We connected right away as Asian American women and artists who have both struggled with the economic challenges and existential questions surrounding the moral imperative of an artist’s life and the convergence of art and politics. For Maikiko, to be creative is to be human; it is our birthright and intrinsic to our value as individuals and members of a collective. And yet, the current state of an artist’s life—as evidenced by the writers and actors’ strike—is aligned with capitalist interest; it is inherently “extractive” and “exploitative.” Maikiko’s philosophy on being an artist is very much a critique of the economic structures that prevent artists from thriving. She says, “artists should not be traditional workers making a product; art is something everyone should just get to do” and “when you commodify anything, it loses its spiritual value. Dehumanization is actually the outcome.”
Maikiko readily admits that she had to sacrifice much of her ambition as an actress and writer, so that she could make a viable living. She further shared that WIF has a help line for anyone who has experienced harassment, abuse or discrimination in the entertainment industry, and one of the recurring themes that comes up in calls is shame over perceived lack of success. The internalization of shame resonated so strongly with me. As someone whose pay-the-bills job has always been in low-paying part-time education gigs, I have felt so much shame for my life choices because, as I would say to myself, I could’ve or should’ve earned more/done more if I had only chosen a different professional path, or alternatively, I could’ve or should’ve pushed harder and sacrificed more for my art. The could’ve/should’ve game is very seductive, but ultimately, self-destructive. It is perpetuated by a hamster wheel of self-blame in a society that purports personal responsibility. Maikiko expressed and affirmed such a valuable truth for me and so many other creative compatriots: “We should not be ashamed for wanting to be artists, for being artists.” It seems like such a basic truism that you’d think it doesn’t bear saying aloud, but I felt so seen and heard (and liberated) when she said it.
In many ways, this is the core of her work at WIF, uplifting the voices and spirits of women and underrepresented voices in the entertainment space. It is so heartening to know that there is a deep and thoughtful philosophy that underlies her work beyond surface and obligatory nods to diversity and representation. And while Maikiko is honest about the bleakness of sustainability for artists in a capitalist structure, she is equally a visionary for what’s possible. Maikiko asks the essential question “What does the decolonized generative future of artists look like?” I love that she is even asking the question at all, and I wish more artists could first feel how these words land on their body, and secondly, consider their role in answer to this exact articulation. The starving artists—the strikers, the minimum wage workers, the freelance hustlers, the drivers and servers–are suffering, yet paradoxically, it is they who will get us through to the other side of the madness that is brimming all around us in the current climate of neoliberal fascism. It’s not the billionaire class that is going to save us or preserve our humanity. Maikiko is not just hopeful, but resolute, that “the artistic mind can change how our systems work and how we engage.” These words were very inspiring and made me feel less isolated as a tinker in my workshop. Maikiko affirmed that we as artists are part of something bigger and that our work is not just about expression for, say, personal catharsis or self-interested gain, but truly a moral and spiritual imperative for the survival of our humanity. It’s easy to dismiss this sentiment as hyperbolic or lofty, but it reminds me of Amiri Baraka’s poem “Young Soul” in which he writes: “First, feel, then feel, then/ Read, or read, then feel, then/ Fall, or stand, where you already are” and “Make some muscle in your head/but use the muscle in yr heart.”
We first met Kyla Garcia 2014 as a new “Fringe Femme” when she was gearing up for her Hollywood Fringe Festival show, “The Mermaid Who Learned How to Fly.” If you know Kyla you won’t be surprised that we were immediately smitten – her spirit and generosity envelop you – even before we saw her perform. (And she was amazing).
Of course we’ve kept in touch with her over the years, so were excited to check out the show she directed for this year’s Fringe: Samantha Bowling’s “This Was Never Supposed to Be a One Woman Show: A One Woman Show.” This extraordinary performance was such an unexpected gift. And we reached out to Kyla to talk a bit about her own solo journey and connecting with Samantha, as a collaborator.
Every solo show begins as a primal scream into the void.
As artists, we so often have to answer to outside voices and opinions of folks who have no idea what the actual reality of being vulnerable onstage in this way truly means.
For years before I wrote my first solo show, I had agents and managers repeatedly tell me ‘Write a one-woman show! Casting directors and industry people need to see your range!’
I’ve never been able to create from that place, that surface place. So, for years I ignored them.
Until I shared a poem, a poem about the most shameful moment in my life, at a solo show workshop. And when the audience leaned in, I could hear a pin drop. And I thought, ‘oh no…this is the thing I have to write about. This is the thing I have to say.’
So, in 2013 I registered for the Hollywood Fringe with a show that was not even fully written yet. I had no ambitions with this show, my only goal was for ONE person in the audience to hear me and perhaps not make the same mistakes I had in life, perhaps not break their own heart and lose love in such a profound way. If I could get through to one person, putting myself in this vulnerable place and sharing my story, again and again, would be worth it.
I wrote my solo show because I had to; because I needed to say something and the person I wanted to say it to wasn’t there to hear it, so I spoke it out into the void for someone else’s heart to catch the message. It was one of the most terrifying and awe-inducing experiences of my life.
The Hollywood Fringe Festival provided the perfect womb; a loving, supportive, and nurturing environment for my idea to develop in. When it premiered in 2014, my show reached that one person and then some. Performing at the Fringe empowered me as a writer and gave me the courage as an artist to share my own stories; not just the words of others I’d been bringing to life for countless years before that.
I also met some of the most AMAZING humans in LA during that process (like Jennie and the badass women of the LAFPI) and I felt so grateful that I was now a part of this community of indie artists – who were also making art because they had to.
After I shared “The Mermaid Who Learned How to Fly,” I retreated.
The show had been received with so much love – awards, extensions, and most importantly, friendships I would cherish forever. But, I felt like a little crab hiding away in a shell as my art took me to other places and new adventures. I never forgot the courage this experience gave me and the love and support I felt from my community showing up for me the way they did during this time, and I kept showing up for them.
Now, almost 9 years later, I return to the Hollywood Fringe in a more powerful way than I could’ve ever imagined: behind the scenes.
In 2023, I made my directorial debut for one of the bravest stories I’ve ever witnessed: “This Was Never Supposed to be a One Woman Show: A One Woman Show,” written and performed by Samantha Bowling – an actor who everyone in this galaxy will know and remember once they see it.
Sam and I met in 2015, shortly after I had finished my last performance of “Mermaid” at United Solo in NYC. We had just become ensemble members at Native Voices at the Autry (Sam and I are both Indigenous, her people are the Cherokee and mine are the Taíno), so a mutual love of theatre and our Indigenous culture connected us.
She was always someone I admired from afar and wanted to get to know better. But, it wasn’t until a Facebook post in 2018, where Sam shared the tragic news of her best friend’s passing that I felt the strong urge to make a more conscious effort to see her. As someone who has navigated my own mental health journey for a while now, I know when people lose a loved one to suicide, there are very high statistics of the grief taking them too. Time and schedules and life had kept us from ever really having the chance to hang out, but I felt a fire light under me at that moment. I wanted Sam to know she wasn’t alone, and I meant it.
We went to a film festival together and talked in her car for hours. Sam jokingly confessed that I had always seemed so happy on the surface and she didn’t know if we’d get along outside of rehearsal. (She didn’t yet know about my own dark sense of humor.) I confessed that my happiness came from knowing my own dark night of the soul, a place I never wanted to go to again. And from that moment on, our friendship began.
Cut to a few years and a global pandemic later; the fear of Covid-19 had us all in lockdown – I was home in LA and Sam was in Boston living in theatre housing for a show she’d been cast in that ended up getting canceled. We talked on the phone weekly, and felt a deep responsibility to each other, especially to check in on the other’s mental health during the isolation of quarantine.
During that time, she had been working on a one-woman show that was originally supposed to be a comedy duo show performed by Sam and her best friend and creative partner Britt. They were writing it together to make fun of their mental illness and de-stigmatize all that comes with it, but when Britt lost her battle with bipolar disorder, Sam was left grieving her best friend and writing a show that was never meant to be performed alone.
Sam workshopped the show on Zoom for some of our Native Voices peers and I remember being BLOWN AWAY. She would run her ideas by me when we would catch up on the phone and I always felt honored to listen to her stories and process. When she came home to LA from Boston, I watched as she interviewed director after director, always thinking she’d found the right person only to realize she hadn’t.
Now, I am a professional director in the VO world… and I have directed some theatre, but I had never been part of a project of this magnitude; a project with this much personal significance. But at some point in early 2021, a tiny voice whispered that it was me, that I was meant to do this beside Sam, to be her champion. I sheepishly shared this with her afterward and rather than laughing in my face – she embraced me with utter JOY as if she too had wanted this all along, but didn’t want to impose if I didn’t have the time.
We rehearsed in our apartments with only our dogs as our audience; and spent hours going over the script continuing to shape and dramaturg what was, in my eyes – already a masterpiece.
Two years later (after Sam had been diligently developing this piece for FIVE years on her own), we brought it to the Hollywood Fringe stage and I was reminded of my own experience with Mermaid.
Sam’s show was received with pure love and support. Audiences were moved to laughter and tears night after night and finally, she was doing what she had dreamt of for so long! She was sharing her story with the world. We originally presented this piece as a one-off outdoor workshop in a friend’s backyard and now Sam is a Jaxx Cultural Arts Envoy Nominee, Best Solo Performance of Fringe 2023 Nominee and Winner of the Encore Producer’s Award. She has come so far from that first Zoom workshop and it has truly been the privilege of a lifetime to be a microcosmic part of her galactic process.
Sam’s mind is brilliant, she is a nonuple threat: phenomenal singer/songwriter, skilled dancer/guitarist, part-historian/scientist, prolific writer/actress, and a hilarious comedienne. Her story is one that every person on this planet could learn from… it’s a story about survival and the daily triumphs we have over our brain. It’s a story about learning to protect and heal yourself and about how we keep going after the unspeakable impacts our lives. I offer every trigger warning to our audiences: mental illness, suicide, sexual assault… and yet, I am able to confidently say this show is still very much a comedy. Only a mind as magical as Sam’s could find humor in all she has lived through. Only a heart as brave as Sam’s could find the courage to step onto that stage night after night and live through it again in the hopes of getting through to one person who may be struggling right now.
No one is you and that is your power. For a solo show to truly move hearts and minds, you must tell the story that only you can tell, the one you may not want to share, but the one that is whispering quietly from the depths of your soul – that now is the time for you to tell it.
“Shame dies when our stories are told in safe spaces.” I saw this quote by Dr. James Rouse and it really stuck with me. It reminded me of my own journey and the journey I’ve been on beside Sam. Shame disappears when we tell our stories; when we do the work to heal from them before sharing them – when we keep healing as we voice them.
Sam’s story heals me every time I witness it. For so long, I was the only one witnessing it, but now it has been born into the world and I want everyone else to experience it too.
You have one last chance to see her shine at her Encore performance. I will be there with bells on, probably in the front row. Will you come with me?
After months of winter rain that persisted through June Gloom, I’m ready to get out in the sun and see some theatre! Aren’t you?
This July 11-16 at The Zephyr Theatre, five budding theatrical works by up-and-coming playwrights will be showcased at the SheLA Arts Summer Theater Festival, self-described as the premier festival for new, original, creative works by gender-marginalized playwrights and composers in Los Angeles.
I was able to speak with the wonderful playwrights and directors to give us a sneak peek into their vision, process, and hopes for these plays.
Carolina Pilar Xique (she/her): What compelled each of you to write your piece?
Maddie Nguyen (she/her, playwright of the moon play): I have a friend in college who is Native Hawaiian and was telling me about how Mark Zuckerberg wanted to buy land in Hawaii. My friend was really pissed off about that and told me about this dream he had where Hawaii colonized the Moon. Around that same time, my college friend group was graduating and I was having a hard time dealing with that emotionally – the loss of connection with people is something I’ve always struggled with in my life. I combined the two ideas of going to the moon and connected that with a metaphor of connection with other people, and no longer desiring that connection because it becomes too painful when it ends.
Margaret Owens (she/her, playwright, composer & director ofRoseMarie – A Kennedy Life Interrupted): I was suffering from chronic fatigue from myalgic encephalomyelitis severely for about a year and a half, so I was in a wheelchair. I couldn’t do any of my normal daily tasks, so I was like, “What can I do to earn my right to live?” And I thought, “I can write a musical!” I put it out to the universe, and a very strong image came into my mind about the Kennedys, which I didn’t think was a good idea because everyone writes about the Kennedys. My husband mentioned that the family lobotomized this daughter, and I had never heard of that. I did a little research and learned that RoseMarie was the inspiration for the American Disability Act and all the Special Olympics. Since I was in my wheelchair at that time, I was becoming very, very grateful for the street curbs. You know who’s to thank for that? RoseMarie. I was trapped in my body and could do nothing else but write this.
Natalie Nicole Dressel (she/her, playwright of There is Evil in This House): What compelled me to write this piece was going to therapy in my thirties after coming out as transgender and losing touch with my mother, and talking about my experience growing up in a haunted house with my therapist. My therapist recontextualized my entire childhood experience, I had to go back and re-look at everything again. So it’s based on some real feelings I was going through. It was either write this play or keep bothering any halfway-friend Uber driver that I was meeting, because I had stuff to get off my chest.
Sarahjeen François (she/her, playwright & director of Sister, Braid My Hair): George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Elijah McClain. Ahmaud Arbery. All the unarmed deaths that were occurring at the hands of police officers. I was at home in the middle of COVID while all of that was stewing in my mind, and I was angry. But also I was yearning for a laughter and warmth that I wasn’t getting because I was so isolated from my family. I decided to create these sisters who thrive despite this political circumstance, and they have brought me so much comfort and joy. Just being in the presence of Black women is something special and I was craving that.
Nakisa Aschtiani (she/her, playwright of Bismillah, or In the Name of God): Years ago, I was having a conversation with my mom, and she had mentioned that a friend of the family said that if his son were gay, he would kill himself. It stuck with me and years later, I had to write about it because I couldn’t understand how you could say you love someone and say that simultaneously – the duality of that drove me nuts. I put that conversation in the play.
Carolina: What has been the process in bringing these pieces to life?
Sarah Bell (she/her, director of the moon play): What’s particularly wonderful about this piece is Maddie has put in this Vietnamese myth of “The Man on the Moon,” which includes a banyan tree on the moon, giving it an atmosphere.There’s also all this trash that’s in the play. Bringing it to life was actually quite easy because Maddie has created this perfect environment for me to kind of throw whatever I need in it. So it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve been collecting trash from my house for my moon play trash pile.
Margaret: Well, the story was down in my mind, so then I wrote all the songs. I was looking for a book writer, because I didn’t know how to do that, and – long story, short – I ended up writing it myself. It was intimidating because I didn’t know how to write or talk like the 1930s & 1940s. My husband’s a professional writer and he took a stab at writing one scene just to give me an idea. Catching the verbiage of that broke it wide open for me. I started in December of 2011, and I finally had it all written in 2014. A producer I knew did staged readings to raise money to take it to Broadway – that didn’t happen, and then COVID. I started submitting it to places, and SheLA picked it. And it’s this play that led me back to college where I got my degree in playwriting.
Dean Grasbard (he/him, director of There is Evil in This House): It’s a really emotional piece. We have a loving cast that take care of themselves and each other and are doing a really excellent job of finding the humor in it. The deeper we get into it, the more we’ve been able to have communal healing. This play shows us paths to forgiveness for ourselves and each other. I don’t think any of us expected to walk out of rehearsals and feeling this light and with this sense of relief, which is really powerful. The play is so much funnier and more painful than I think any of us even imagined. It’s a play begging to be seen; it really aches for community and does a good job of creating it.
Sarahjeen: It has been a journey and the journey continues! When I wrote this play, I started thinking about quintessentially Black works of art because they’re a source of comfort, and there’s this one piece that can be found in many Black households. It’s a generational braiding photo with about four Black women seated and are grooming each other. And I wondered, what is the conversation? What’s happening that we can’t see? What if this is the only place where they feel safe? That’s where I birthed the characters and this world. I decided to take a chance on this play. It’s rhythmic in nature and is accompanied by djembe music, and it’s not something I’ve ever experienced in theatre.
Ani Maderosian (she/her, director of Bismillah, or In the Name of God): The dream for every director is to see things finally come to life, in the flesh. I did a radio play version of this [play] about two years ago. At that time, we needed that rendition, and it was creatively fulfilling and wonderful, but I sat there and thought, “Oh, God, this would be so great if we could get this on stage with people who can connect with it on such a deep and personal level and bring it to the community.” So it’s exciting. My process includes blocking organically, so a lot of the creative work is on the actors in following their own instincts and bringing out their own truth. Being able to work with this unique set of talented actors and tell this story from their perspective is my joy.
Carolina: Is there anything the audience should know before seeing your piece?
Maddie: There’s heavy language. It’s not recommended for children.
Margaret: Maybe bring tissue. Trigger warnings would be that there’s simulated surgery and there is a little violence, domestic quarrels. The play does mention the timely usage of neurodivergent terms of the 1930s and 40s.
Natalie: There are pop culture references, but I think I do a good job of taking people by the hand so you don’t have to know them to know what it means to the main character. And it [the play] won’t be in order, but I promise I will reorient you as to what’s going on.
Sarahjeen: They should know that this is an invitation – they’re being invited to a space that is sacred for these sisters. And to be prepared to go on a journey with these bombastic sisters who take risks and live life.
Ani: I love this play so much because it encapsulates what we as artists do in this industry. I think we both agree that we have a civic duty to the public to tell stories and this story will educate, instill empathy, and the hope is that it will get people talking and create a little bit of change when they leave the theater.
Carolina: What would you like audiences to take away after the performances?
Sarah: Something I’ve been talking a lot about with Maddie & the cast is what qualifies or even quantifies a friendship? How do we define relationships that can feel fleeting or deep, lasting, and meaningful – is it the time that we’ve known someone or is it how deep our knowledge of them runs? I guess I want audiences to be more open to that definition.
Margaret: People may know of Teddy, and of Eunice, and they certainly know of Jack, but they don’t know all the work they did because of RoseMarie. We’re lucky that she came into this family that had so much power and money. By being in that family, she changed the world because rights for people with disabilities are better because of the Kennedys.
Dean: I want people to walk away with the feeling of complexity, and the acceptance around complexity. Because nobody is just good or bad. And I want people to walk away knowing they have options. There is no one way to deal with trauma or to reconcile with yourself or your family. That is something to exquisite that I so rarely see – the idea that there is no lesson other than figuring out what’s right for you and holding that complexity tenderly.
Sarahjeen: I want them to feel the absolute joy amongst these Black women. Second, I want them to go home and do a little bit of research after seeing the play. And the last thing is I want them to make space for grace as it comes to the complexities of being a woman of color in America.
Nakisa: Fundamentally, we’re all the same. We have stories to tell. When we were casting, it was important for us to cast people of color – Middle Eastern actors. Even though we can take this story and put another family into it or imagine people that you know who are like these characters, we’re fundamentally the same and we come from the same stock. And we all have stories to tell.
Carolina: Is there any other play in the Festival you’re particularly excited to see?
Maddie: I really want to see Sister, Braid My Hair. Every time I see the title, it just strikes me. The description, portrait, and title feel very intimate so I think that’s the one I’m most excited for.
Sarah: I got to talk to most of the production members of There is Evil in This House. Talking to the dramaturg, I asked her what her favorite part is about that piece and she said how healing and transformative it is as a witness and as someone who is working on it. So I want to see that one for sure.
Margaret: I would love to see them all. I like the idea of Sister, Braid My Hair.
Natalie: I spent a great deal of time talking with Sarah [the director of the moon play], and I’m fascinated. It sounds like a fairytale book come to life and if that’s not a good time at the theatre, I don’t know what is.
Dean: I’m excited for Bismillah, or In the Name of God. I’m really glad we have representation of queer stories of color in this festival. I know Nakisa and I haven’t seen her work before so I’m really excited.
Sarahjeen: I’m really excited to see all of them, but Bismillah is snatching my soul with interest. But I really want to see them all, and I’m going to, so it’s going to be tasty.
Nakisa: One of my friends was saying that RoseMarie is absolutely phenomenal and will probably go very far.
Ani: The great thing about this festival is that it’s always vastly different stories, genre, and styles, so I’d like to see all of them!
For more tickets and information on the five plays – and playwrights – featured in the 2023 SheLA Arts Summer Theater Festival July 11-16 at the Zephyr Theatre, visit shenycarts.org/she-la.