I’m Not A Feminist, But…

(Former Devised Project with College Students)

Created & Directed by Leigh Strimbeck

Spring 2011 Tour – Bookings March 2011:

  • March 14, Monday 7PM, New Stage in Pittsfield, MA for Berkshire Women’s Writers Festival with WAM Theatre
  • March 30, Wednesday, 9:20AM Averill Park High School
  • March 31, Thursday, Noon, Berkshire Community College

Contact Leigh at: leigh@leighstrimbeck.com

Students in workshop: Stephanie Weber-Remmert, Sarah Anderson, Brittany Beyus, Ashley Brennan, Caitlynne Cash, Kyrie Ellison, Heather Guarni, Deneisha Martin, Marion Pingree, Anna Shields, Kaitlin Stewart, Raysheea Turner

Audience comments from the workshop:

“Until this workshop, I hadn’t realized that I often deny my feminism because I don’t like the stereotype that it holds, even though I am a women’s studies minor, and plan on possibly working to stand up for women’s rights as a part of my career. The piece, “Ghosts of feminists past,” made me realize that not only have we not come far pertaining to women’s rights, but we’ve also taken steps backwards in standing up for them. The longer we women deny our feminism, the longer it is going to take to get the rights we want. When I walked out of the theater that night, I felt incredibly empowered, because I realized that men aren’t holding women back from gaining equality with them; it’s our attitudes, our lack of determination as a group. This workshop made me feel proud of my feminism and want to unite with other women and stand up for the fact that we are feminists and demand equal rights.”

“I most thoroughly enjoyed the skit of the young girl who had so much placed “on” her. Sunglasses, calculator, hat, shoes and so on, but it never seemed to end. The things she “needed” continued to grow and more and more she had too many things to hold.”

“I did not know I was a feminist till after I watched the production. I thought feminists were “man-hating lesbians”, crazy about women’s rights, and actually wanted to be treated at a higher level than men.”

“When they acted out Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, the question about the ERA – I thought was a simple answer. Come to find out it wasn’t (ratified in) 1980 and it’s never been ratified. I had absolutely no idea, this took me back a little. Why is this not ratified in the world we live in today? How far have we really come?”

“Finally the most important thing that I learned from this play is, I am the future, the third wave of feminist, or the Wave of Humanism. I am, just like all of us are, responsible for making this world a better place for everyone and for equal opportunity for women. Like is said in the work shop, it is my responsibility… as a Feminist to make (the world) a better place and if not then it will remain (a place where we teach) ‘younger generations to fear and disrespect women’.” “I most thoroughly enjoyed the skit of the young girl who had so much placed “on” her. Sunglasses, calculator, hat, shoes and so on, but it never seemed to end. The things she “needed” continued to grow and more and more she had too many things to hold.”

In this photo, left to right: Anna Moscavic, Anna Shields, Sarah Huck, Kristie Wortman; singing “I’m not a feminist, NO!”

For another article on this show go to: https://www.sage.edu/publications/connections/spring10/ and click to pages 6 & 7

The Feminist Show, Metroland Blog by David Baecker, October 21, 2010

“I’m not a feminist, but…” are words that you hear often at Russell Sage College. I expected something different from a women’s institution, but you have to meet students where they are. My colleague Leigh Strimbeck handles issues like this well and with theatricality. Her “devised” theatre production (created by her and the cast) of MIRROR MIRROR looked at body image and the media and WAITING FOR JOE used Beckett’s framework to examine cyberbullying.

I just got back from a preview of her latest creation, appropriately titled “I’M NOT A FEMINIST, BUT…” The play looks at the question, why do young women reject feminism as a label, though desire equality with men on every level? It is a paradox that often leaves me shaking my head, though I have to remember that I am an approaching middle-aged white male who, statistically, makes more money than women and will probably deal with less gender discrimination in my career. So what do I know about this problem?

The evening is a vaudeville of songs, skits and dances that addresses different points of view on the same topic. A series of interviews with women ages 20 – 60 captures the ebb and flow of the feminist movement, a now-you-see-me, now-you-don’t panorama. The “Feminists Gone Wild” have a man-dog on a leash and a roving eye for straight girls. “Ghosts of Feminists Past” examines the three waves of the feminism and the spiritual linkage of Alice Paul and Betty Friedan to women of today. My personal favorite number is performed by a scowling troupe of tap dancers to “Mother of Pearl” by Nellie McKay. The comic lyric refrain of “feminists don’t have a sense of humor” plays dissonantly against the angry, frustrated dance that never blossoms into joy. It makes me feel sad to watch it.

I suppose that in-between place is where these students live, somewhere in the middle of being told what they should be and wanting just “to be”. We ask our students to be “Women of Influence” at Russell Sage College and maybe they struggle with not wanting to appear too assertive, too unladylike or maybe even, too bright. It is an understandable dilemma when our media floats words like man-hater, femi-Nazi and makes other gender distinctions daily about our female politicians, sports figures and business leaders. That is why I am proud that Leigh and our students are looking at the topic and deciding what to do with the word. How do we honor the past and move towards a non-issue?

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