The Gloves Come Off: Wilder Women with Stories on Stage
A preview by Jim Hunt
This time around, the gloves are really coming off.
After the success of Wild Women from a previous season, Anthony Powell, Artistic Director of Stories on Stage, felt that scheduling a sequel in 2020 was imperative. At a board meeting he asked, “What should we call it?” and a member, without a moment’s hesitation, called out, Wilder Women. Powell knew immediately he’d found his title.
Being a long-time fan of Stories on Stage myself, as well as a frequent performer, I’m delighted to get to write about Wilder Women. All three of the performers are friends as well as colleagues of mine, and I’m certain, in their capable hands, this year’s program will be spectacular.
Two of the previous show‘s “wild women” —Rhonda Lee Brown and Allison Watrous—will return as even “wilder women”, and completing the equation will be Jada Suzanne Dixon, a multi-talented actor and director (a two-time recipient of the True West Award).
I had the pleasure of talking with Allison about her experiences with Stories on Stage over the years. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and her passion for storytelling, fierce. When I asked her if she herself was a “wild woman,” she guffawed and said, “I’ve had some wild times in my life. Maybe I’m 20-30% “wild woman“. There are times I’d like to be a wild, black-boot-wearing, tiny-bit biker with bright red lipstick.”
She remembers fondly many of the stories she’s read, especially one in which she played a 50-foot woman who had a 6-foot husband. I asked her what was special about Wild—and now Wilder—Women. She said that a keen sense of empowerment comes from giving voice to women without the male “gaze.” She described the event as “sexy, political, heartfelt, emotional, alternative, and irreverent.”
Part of our conversation would have set Anthony Powell’s ears burning as we shared our deep respect and gratitude for his signature directing style. He invites us to a “rehearsal” of sorts, where he helps us score our stories—stories he has adapted impeccably and knows intimately. He directs from a place of complete positivity, encouraging us to take risks and rely on our skills and experience to honor our stories as we share them with audiences. I always look forward to my coaching sessions with Anthony and leave jazzed and ready to take my piece to the Stories-on-Stage world, in the imaginations of our wonderful audiences.
Allison continued, “Anytime you can be in the room with Anthony, you become a better performer. He’s a master storyteller, who unlocks the nuances and lifts the story from the page. It’s such a gift to benefit from his artistry and accept the challenge to us as actors to arc a twenty-minute narrative and to thread the energy throughout.” Her enthusiasm for Stories on Stage prompted this passionate statement: “With the resurgence of podcasts, what could be more wonderful than LIVE podcasts: come experience it LIVE!”
According to Anthony, Wilder Women will have “a lot of moving parts. It will be more goofy and fun and maybe not as political as last year. Maybe we just want to laugh.” He added, “There will also be some surprises.”
When I asked Rhonda Lee Brown to share her thoughts on Wild (and Wilder) Women, she said, “The Wild Women stories were so successful, and the audience was hungry for more. Stories about powerful women and their voices being heard. THE TIME FOR WOMEN IS NOW.”
In order to get a taste of this year’s offerings, I searched for and read “Glory” by Lesley Nneka Arimah, winner of an O.Henry Award in 2017, and now can hardly wait to hear Jada Dixon add her magic to it. If Arimah’s poignant story—about a woman, who has spent a lifetime making wrong decisions and feeling like a loser, and then coming into her power—is any indication, the entire event is going to be a knockout.
2020 marks the 20th anniversary of Stories on Stage, an auspicious achievement, indeed.
Performances are below, and ticket information is at: https://www.storiesonstage.org/2019-20-season.html
Saturday, March 7 | 7:30pm Nomad Playhouse, Boulder
Sunday, March 8 | 1:30 & 6:30pm Su Teatro, Denver
Please join Stories on Stage for a fabulous silent auction at both shows!