|Chapter Eleven: Chance Meeting|
In July of 1993, I attended
a California Arts Council Touring Roster Conference in Pasadena, California.
Little did I know then that attending that conference would open a new
chapter in my life.
conference, I happened upon Miriam Reed.
What we quickly discovered was that we had several things in common.
We were both actors, we were both solo artists and what connected us most
was the fact that we both portray historical women in our solo work. Miriam
portrays women that include birth control advocate Margaret Sanger and
suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton while I portray women that include
abolitionist Harriet Tubman and political activist Angela Davis.
found kinship that day.
Miriam and I attended some of
the same workshops over that weekend and barely came up for air as we talked
throughout the conference.
conference came to an end, all participants were asked to assemble together
in one large room to pow wow one last time as we gained closure. When asked
if there were any announcements from the floor, Miriam voiced out loud,
“What if I went up and asked all women solo artists to meet us in the back
of the room.”
did not take me long to respond, “I think that is a great idea.”
question sprang from the idea of summoning all of the women solo artists to see how we
might collectively support each other. She identified me at the microphone
as the point person in the rear of the wood-paneled room. I raised me hand
to identify myself.
to our surprise, we were bombarded with a number of culturally-diverse women
from such disciplines as theatre, dance, storytelling, performance poetry,
music, and performance art. If nothing more than out of curiosity, these
multicultural and multi-disciplined women huddled together with us to find
out what was going on.
We knew were
on to something.
much forethought, we informed these women that we were also performers and
wanted to identify other solo artists who were in our midst. Helene McCardle
was one of two women who identified themselves as having a space at the
Burbank Little Theatre. They
offered their space for our first meeting. Many came back and joined us at
the Burbank Little Theatre for our very first meeting to figure out where we
would go next.
By the end of that July night in 1993, the Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival (LAWTF) was born.