PORTRAITS OF COURAGE: American Women Having It All focuses on relevant topics women are dealing with today through the perspective of women who were at the forefront of change within these issues. By revisiting the lives of historical women, present generations can celebrate the accomplishments of those who paved the way, and glean inspiration to start their own path. From trailblazers to pacifists, these women made a conscious decision to improve their lives and the lives of those around them.
By using the strength of theatre as a means for social change, this live presentation speaks directly to the audience with two female actors, enhanced by video segments that act as an adhesive to the subject matter. Entertaining, enlightening and educational, this is the most unique way to explore and discuss current issues and historical events which will no doubt spark the audience into lively discussions.
Helen Keller: Anne Sullivan may have worked miracles for the young Helen, but Helen the adult went on to move mountains as a political activist and co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Considered a radical in the 20th century, she was a confirmed Socialist who worked towards reform for the blind, condoned birth control, and wrote in support of controversial mystics and spirituality.
Sylvia Rivera: An excellent way to learn what defines a woman is to study the life of Sylvia. Born male and abandoned at three years old, she began living on the streets at age eleven in a community of drag queens. Battling substance abuse and depression, Sylvia has been called the Rosa Parks of the modern transgender movement. But her work wasn’t isolated to transgender issues. She also addressed questions of poverty and discrimination faced by people of color. Named in her honor, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project serves transgender, intersex and gender non- conforming people of New York City.
Mary Church Terrell: Elected class poet at Oberlin College in the 1880’s amidst a primarily white male population, “Mollie” was the first African-American woman to earn a college degree. She later became the first black woman to be appointed to the Board of Education, and due to her activism with the likes of Frederick Douglass, was the president of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs.
Sarah Winnemucca: Sarah was inducted to the Nevada Writers’ Hall of Fame in 1993, but while living in the mid 1800’s, faced criticism from both the Euro-American and Native American worlds. Belonging to the Paiute tribe in western Nevada, Sarah was educated in Carson City, became a school teacher and eventually a translator for the US Army: a position that meant she was not required to live on a reservation. Her observations insprired her to become a public speaker on the plight of her people, delivering nearly three hundred lectures on the east coast.
Margaret Sanger: Raised by a devout Catholic, Margaret’s work as a nurse led her to meet women killing themselves with self-induced abortions. Indicted for obscenity, she penned the newsletter “The Woman Rebel,” in which she coined the term “birth control.” Margaret opened the first birth control clinic in the US, founded the American Birth Control League and worked internationally to promote her core belief that each woman is the absolute mistress of her own body.
Body Image: No female (and recently male) can escape the obsession with body image in today’s world. Plagued by magazine images digitally manipulated to falsify perfection, anorexia, bulimia and addiction to plastic surgery have been borne. This character, created from interviews, is every young American woman facing the social pressures of being beautiful.
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