Origin Stories: Women’s Voices Theater Project launches podcast for Mother’s Day
To hear the first episode of the Women’s Voices Theater Project podcast “Origin Stories,” visit http://www.voicesrfv.org or @voicesrfv on Facebook and Instagram on Mother’s Day, May 9.
A new podcast series is providing a platform for Roaring Fork Valley women to share the vivid and diverse stories of their beginnings and their mothers.
Titled “Origin Stories,” the show will feature 10 local women telling their stories.
The first episode, launching Sunday for Mother’s Day, includes stories by, and Amy Kimberly, Trary Maddalone LaMee and MinTze Wu.
In sharp tactile and emotional detail, Lamee’s story conjures old Aspen in vivid tactile and emotional detail, recounting how she and her grandmother bonded in 1976 as her parents and grandparents both split up at the same time. She recalls how her grandfather, a Grand Poobah of sorts at the Elk’s Lodge and the friendly face of the family’s Main Street gas station, shacked up with another woman in the Smuggler trailer park and ended her grandparents’ 38-year marriage. At the same time, the pre-teen Trary showed up on her grandma’s doorstep fleeing her own parents’ ugly divorce.
“Grandma and I had each been abandoned and betrayed and we were stuck with each other,” LaMee says in the story.
The feisty pair, she recalls, support one another through this dark time and find their way forward, bonding over dance and Trary’s dream of being an actor.
“My origin story is about each of us rising up when our family was broken,” she says. “Life presents us with these occasional watershed opportunities when we are suddenly pioneering through uncharted territory seeking a new beginning. I have a secret superpower for those times because I remember who I came from.”
These first-person stories are artfully told by the actors and performers who are members of the Women’s Voices Theater Project, which for the second year in a row has canceled its live production due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The women’s theater project, run by the Carbondale-based nonprofit Voices, aims to provide a platform for plays written by women. Voices launched the initiative in response to the gross underrepresentation of non-male playwrights on the American stage. The group now plans to stage a production in May 2022.
Women’s Voices produced it with Writ Large – Alya Howe’s long-running local storytelling series – aiming to get listeners to pause and engage with this timeless art.
Howe, herself featured in a later episode, hopes the podcast will connect people emerging from the isolation of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Having been separated during COVID, the power of a true story is connection, belonging and unity,” she said. “Stories bridge divisions and bring us into a common humanity.”
Last spring, during the lockdown of the early pandemic, the Women’s Voices Project produced its first podcast, “Collective Pause.” As it became clear the group would not be producing in-person theater again this spring, member Julie Comins Pickrell pitched the idea for “Origin Stories.”
“I wanted to explore the stories that we have heard from as far back as we can remember about who we are, the fundamental stories around which we may have built an identity,” Pickrell said. “And also the stories we have created to define ourselves independent of, perhaps even in reaction to, the stories we were told about ourselves. Stories that explore not necessarily our birth but also our rebirth.”
Two more episodes will be released later this month and are expected to feature Comins Pickrell and Howe along with Gabriela Alvarez Espinoza, Suzie Brady, Kristin Carlson, Barbara Reese and Marcia Weese.
Amy Kimberly, the executive director of Carbondale Arts and the irrepressible force behind First Friday and Mountain Fair, in her story on episode one, recounts the wild yarns passed down on the Sicilian half of her family – stories of bootleggers, gangsters, “the black hand” and “Scarface Al.”
“My grandmother was full of them,” she recalls. “I loved siting on her lap listening to stories of the Old Country.”
Wu’s story distills a lifetime, from her birth in Taiwan through her childhood and the encouragement her parents offered for her intellectual and creative development, her move to the U.S. and her career as a violinist and multi-disciplinary producer. It lovingly and unsentimentally tracks the ups-and-downs of her relationship with her mom through it all.
“She is they’re always there, my mama,” the story opens. “Before there was applause, standing ovations and cheers. And after when all fell silent, she was there.”
To listen, visit voicesrfv.org or check @voicesrfv on Facebook and Instagram on Mother’s Day.
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Theatre Aspen’s Solo Flights one-person play festival returns to the Hurst Theatre this summer Aug. 25-31with double the programming compared to its inaugural four-play festival in 2019.