Tonight Venus Theatre begins rehearsal on woman empowering-script number 56! Script 56 is Jayme Kilburn’s, “Garbage Kids”. It’s the story of Belly and Scuzzy, two throwaway kids who manage to find each other and their way to adulthood. It’s a three person cast. Venus will be working with Jay Hardee for the first time ever, and we’re so excited about that. And I’ll be jumping on stage in the role of Scuzzy. Amy Rhodes will be playing three different characters, all adults as seen through the eyes of Belly and Scuzzy.
The last play we produced by Jayme was “Ding, or Bye Bye Dad”. Jayme has this magical way of capturing humor even as she deals with very dark subject. I can’t wait to get started tonight! This show will open on May 19 and run through June 12. It will run Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 3.
Venus began this calendar year, “Sweet 16: Groovy Young Things” with “Fur” by Migdalia Cruz. Migdalia wrote “Fur” under the guidance of Maria Irene Fornes. Migdalia was here to see our final Saturday evening performance at Venus. It was magical to have her in the house-that-love-built. Personally, I have been a fan of hers since the mid-90’s. Venus produced “Cigarettes and Moby Dick” 13 years ago and we’re so proud to have our production mentioned in the published Anthology of that play. To produce “Fur” was a homecoming of sorts.
The only downside in terms of the Venus-journey has been a low turnout. So, we thought blogging a bit may widen the awareness and understanding of the work at Venus. When it comes to the work of women we seem to be in a white-out situation.
A white-out situation is when a culture creates white noise and blizzard conditions in order to avoid coming to terms with real feelings. They stock up on snow shovels and road salt and hunker down with coffee and sandwiches under a thick blanket of denial. There are many tactics applied to attain this result but the objective is the same: keep women small and their voices muted.
At Venus, we want women to come into their size and power. Like many of the great playwrights such at Beckett or Strindberg, not all plays are written as realism. Some writers capture a certain poetry, or establish a convention around their form that has its own set of rules. As an Artistic Director these style choices are what pull me in more than anything else.
In the case of Jayme, there’s a playfulness. Something childlike in the poetry of the language but also something crushing. This duality Jayme is able to lay down no doubt comes from her experience in starting the Strand Theatre in Baltimore. It, no doubt, comes from her studies at NYU. And, it’s certainly informed now by her graduate work in upstate NY. But, it’s also pure talent and extreme courage. There’s no way to describe the courage it takes to lay down a world on paper. You feel naked. Revealed. Completely isolated and entirely exposed.
I make these points because I know from doing this work for 30 years that the playwright is the first to be attacked. And the female playwright is especially a target because of the white-out conditions in our field.
Any woman who ventures out to lay it down on the page is a soldier. She will be attacked and her work will be criticised beyond anything Neil Simon ever experienced. I’m not saying male writers don’t have struggles and don’t get these same attacks. I’m saying that with women, unless you are Wendy Wasserstein, writing about the privilege of your sweater set, you will take a hit. Probably in the press. Possibly from other places.
And because of this, these women become even larger heroes to me.
I ask you to experience these plays. Because no two are ever the same. I ask you to see what women are really saying about themselves, their lives, each other, the world. Not as seen through the made-for-tv processor but as they have written it.
Venus is an incredibly rare opportunity to witness first hand the diverse voices of women. We are an anomaly and we fight every month to stay alive financially.
By purchasing your tickets to Venus, you are investing in the courage of women to tell the story. More than that, you are investing in talent that usually goes ignored or un-noticed in the white out of our culture.
Our house seats 28 people. I’ve created a business model that becomes self-sustaining if we sell half of those tickets at every show.
So, I’m asking you to invest. Invest $20 to see a play you may or may not like but a play that will definitely take you on a journey. Invest $20 to see what the next woman has to say because you believe that women should be heard. Invest the $20 and if that’s too cheap make it $40 and purchase a pending ticket for the person who can’t afford $20.
I’ve structured my business model this way because I believe theatre should be accessible and self-sustaining. It needs to be seen by as many people as possible. Not because it’s perfect, not because it’s a template of that thing you saw last week with different costumes, not because it’s a classic but this time set in a bowling alley.
Because, purchasing a ticket to see a show at Venus Theatre is a rare opportunity to invest directly in the female story as told by women. It’s a chance to support professional artists who believe in the work so deeply, they work for pennies on the dollar. I’d like to change that. I’d like to confront the white out conditions and invest in a model that pays a living wage.
Please invest in Venus. We will always take the big risks.
Leap with us.
The box office is open.