March 25th in Santa Monica

We were invited by the AAUW-CA to perform in Santa Monica at the YWCA. Unfortunately, it rained! When does it rain in Southern California? Like once a year, and that’s the day we had to drive 60 miles up the 405. We almost got hit by a sign being pushed by the rain and wind, and then another car started fishtailing in front of us. Driving on freeways in the rain in SoCal is no fun and dangerous because there is no drainage.

But what was fun was performing! We had two new cast members Nancy Klann and Mary Schmidt to replace Shirley (who moved to Massachusetts). It was their first performance and they were a little nervous. They did fine, as did everyone else.

Before the performance, we acknowledged Ginni for winning the Ms Senior Orange County contest. A friend of hers had gotten her into the contest and she was totally shocked that she won. We weren’t surprised at all. After all, she plays Mary Kay for us.

The AAUW-CA presidents were in the audience for our performance. They were very impressed by the show, even though it was the third time they were seeing it.

It still amazes me how we are doing this. Ten women, ranging in skills from first time performers to seasoned actors, ranging in age from 40 to — well, beyond. They gather their energy, they rehearse, they travel, they schmooze, and they sing and act no matter with whomever else is on the stage with them. We’re all doing it, yes, because it is fun, but more importantly, we believe in what we are doing.

When we started this two years ago, women weren’t equal to men, but there wasn’t the viscious attack on women the way there is today. Our doing this is growing in importance, not lessening. People tell us high school students need to hear this show, but it’s more and more important that voters here this message. Do we want a political climate that further subjagates women? Or should we be out there educating women about their political power as a block? More women in the US are voting than men. They have the power to change the political discourse of this country.

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Women’s History Month – March 2012

March is our busiest month. With our connection with the National Women’s History Project and word of mouth, we are getting more and more visibility. On March 6th, we had a “mini-tour” going to universities in two counties to perform the play.

First we drove out to Cal State San Bernardino. The student center has a beautiful theatre that the Women’s Resource Center rented in order to have our production on campus for the women students. But it wasn’t just women in the audience! We had quite a mixed showing. It’s always hard to tell what students think, they kind of internalize their reaction. But we got a lot of positive feedback and an invitation to return in the future.

We took ourselves out for a relaxing dinner afterwards at Rutabegourz, an incredible restaurant in Orange County. We had a bit of fun especially when I handed out awards to the cast. Marty got the “Who Am I Now Award” since she plays four roles.

Cal State Fullerton – we were welcomed by Dr. Renae Bredin of the Women and Gender Studies Program, along with her students. They were so glad to see us and made our visit with them great. The audience was packed with Women and Gender Studies students — both men and women — and they were very, very appreciative of the play. See just some of their comments on the “Student Responses” page.

It was a long day. We left Orange County at 8:30 am and returned at 10:30 pm. Very tired, but we were glad to do it.

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Play-reading workshops a big hit

It’s amazing. I give women a copy of the script and we spend three hours reading it and discussing it. I’ve done 6 workshops now, three in California and three in Massachusetts. There is something about this script that doesn’t wear off. I’ve written other plays and I know I couldn’t be doing this with some regular type of script where you want to see if a character in the foreground is going to succeed or not. These characters are all in the background but are telling compelling stories that one can listen to over and over again. Even if the readers cannot act. I love watching their faces as they take on these powerful stories.

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New idea – Play reading workshops

While traveling across the country, we came up with an idea to do play reading workshops. When I show people the script, they grab it and start reading it. So many people after our shows have told me they learned something, I started thinking why not meld all this interest into a reading workshop — then they can experience the play first-hand. Even my mom, who has seen the play now maybe 10 times wants to do a reading. I’ve been talking to people about doing these workshops and everyone loves the idea. I look forward to doing the first one.

Table read of the script

My belief is that doing a reading like this will really affect the participants, maybe even change their lives. Can you imagine freshmen in college doing this? Or senior citizens doing it and then sharing their own experiences from the ’40s and ’50s?

I’m very excited about this.

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How the play is affecting our cast members – Kristin’s story

Kristin Van Etten as Hillary Rodham Clinton

Kristin Van Etten (VIRGINIA WOOLF, GLORIA STEINEM, and HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON) has done film and stage work, including A Christmas Carol, Showoff!, and the Broken Badge at Camino Real Playhouse. She has studied at the NY Film Academy and the Lee Strasborg Acting and Film Institute. She likes to sing country and blues music.

“I had the opportunity to play three very diverse characters. It certainly wasn’t an easy task but it changed my life in various ways. I got to be part of a cause that supports women to overcome any obstacle that lands in their way. It teaches women to be brave and follow the dreams even if others disapprove. It was an eye-opening experience by having the privilege to meet such a strong group of highly educated and passionate women who are not afraid to speak their minds. It was very inspiring. After the Northern California tour, I thought long and hard about my future and decided to go back to school to became a Drama teacher. I look forward to seeing We Did It For You in high schools through out the country. I believe it will happen!”

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How the play is affecting our performers — Marty’s story

Marty Green as Betty Friedan

Marty Green (MARY YOUNG PICKERSGILL, SARAH GRIMKE, MARGARET SANGER, BETTY FRIEDAN) was a theatre major at UCSB and studied at HB Studios in NYC, danced in Vegas and NY where she marched in the Women’s Day Parade in 1971. She worked in the music industry managing Roy Ayers and Freddie Hubbard. She is active with WomenSage, the Southern Calif. Blues Society and the Newport Beach Film Society.

“Being in the play has been such a learning experience, a bit of deja-vu, frustration, and hope. A reminder of what we’ve gone through, and a reminder of what still lies ahead. I am most elated to have been in the Women’s March in the 70s, and then to speak Betty’s lines about it. Seeing it from her perspective; like she said, she didn’t know what to expect. Neither did I when I went over to the start. I do remember that I’d taken the time off from my job, and the men were standing in the crowd cheering me on when I walked by. That was thrilling, and a confirmation of my thoughts. I know we never foresaw some of the ways that women would take to their “freedom”, still using sex as a tool. That hurts me to this day, and the way the media still treats women. Too frustrating. But, we can never give up. To paraphrase Hillary Clinton, “Women’s rights truly are human rights”, and as soon as more men and women understand this, we’ll be closer to achieving equality for all.” – Marty Green

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Young Women’s Health Conference Performance

We drove out to Cal State San Bernardino for the Young Women’s Health Conference. I sort of expected it to be anti-climatic. We have a small dressing room to get ready and to have a quick lunch before we go on.

Kristin Van Etten preparing as Virginia Woolf with Pauli Merry preparing as Sojourner Truth

When we get onto the stage, we are greeted by 350 high schoolers very excited that we were there. They say it was their highlight of the conference. Our songs and speeches were drowned out in the cheering.  What a great way to end the tour.

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The drive home from the tour

It was a long day of driving back to southern California from South Lake Tahoe. The highlight of the trip was stopping at Manzanar, the internment camp that the United States government created during World War II to imprison some of its innocent citizens. Since we were driving right past it, I thought it was worth stopping. After all, our whole trip was about rights of citizens and their equality with others.

Everyone got home safely. What a trip. Can’t wait to do it again.

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South Lake Tahoe public performance

It was an almost soldout house. Ellen sold lots and lots of tickets.

Ellen Goldberg selling tickets

Our performance was electrifying. Afterwards, the characters talked with everyone. What an amazing night. More later.

Kristin Van Etten as Hillary Rodham Clinton

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Salmon spawning hike

Our hosts Ellen and Al Goldberg took us all on hike along a creek to see salmon spawning. It was amazing to watch the fish. More later.

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