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.

     At the 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.

     We 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.

As the 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.”

      It did not take me long to respond, “I think that is a great idea.”

      Miriam’s 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.

     Much 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.

     Without 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.


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