Starting Over…Again

Starting over is terrifying.  But women walk through the doors of change over and over again.  We meet ourselves at the crossroads and make a decision.  We walk forward uncertain of the path before us, but being no less sure of the triumphant end.  We exercise our deepest hope and patience into the late hours, waiting for the dawn.

We enter this place by force or by our own will.


Citizen: An American Lyric

Actors Bridge Ensemble Presents the Nashville premiere of
by Claudia Rankine
adapted for the stage by Stephen Sachs

March 22-24 and March 26-31
Actors Bridge Studio at Darkhorse Chapel (4610 Charlotte Avenue)

Citizen with Hurston Quote

CITIZEN: AN AMERICAN LYRIC  is a searing, poetic riff on race in America, fusing prose, poetry, movement, music, and the visual image. Snapshots, vignettes, on the acts of everyday racism. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams, online, on TV—everywhere, all the time. Those “did-that-really-just-happen-did-they-really-just-say-that” slurs that happen every day and enrage in the moment and later steep poisonously in the mind. And, of course, those larger incidents that become national or international firestorms. As Rankine writes, “This is how you are a citizen.”


Cast: Brianna Booker, Alicia Haymer, DéYonté Jenkins, Shawn Whitsell, Jack Chambers, and Nettie Kraft
Directed by Jon Royal

Produced by Cynthia Harris and Vali Forrister

Stage Management by Kat Tierney-Smith
Lighting Design by Richard Davis, Ardee Design Group

Projection Design by Alex Drinnen
Sound Design by Jack E. Chambers
Costume Design by Colleen Garatoni

Videography by Eden Gerlock and Evan Mattingly
Photography by Rick Malkin

“Emotional…always engaging and exceptionally timely…The work, in short, has gotten under my skin, which is a testament to its power.” —LA Times

Performance Schedule:
FRIDAY, MARCH 22 at 7:30 P.M.
SATURDAY, MARCH 23 at 7:30 P.M.
SUNDAY, MARCH 24 at 6 P.M.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27 at 7:30 P.M.
THURSDAY, MARCH 28 at 7:30 P.M.
FRIDAY, MARCH 29 at T 7:30 P.M.
SATURDAY, MARCH 30 at 7:30 P.M.
SUNDAY, MARCH 31 at 6 P.M.

Venue Information:
Actors Bridge Studio at Darkhorse Chapel
4610 Charlotte Ave (entrance on 47th)
Nashville, TN 37209

Ticket Prices:
General Admission – $25 in advance; $30 at the door
Students w/valid ID – $20

Ticketing Site: https://citizen-nashville.eventbrite.com/

Parking Information:
Free parking is available on 47th Avenue, in the lower lot behind McDonald’s at 47th and Alabama Avenue, in the SunTrust lot at 46th and Charlotte Avenue and in Richland Park.

Actors Bridge Ensemble strives to make our performances and facilities accessible to all our patrons. Due to the intimate size of our venues, we have a limited number of accessible seats; please indicate any special needs when purchasing tickets. You can reach us by phone at 615-498-4077 or email at vali@actorsbridge.org



Cynthia to Facilitate Act Like a Big Grrrl Fall 2018

Act Like a Big GRRRL

Opening Retreat: Saturday, September 29, noon-8 p.m.

Writing/Sharing Meetings: Tuesdays, 6:30-9:30 p.m. (see specific schedule below)

Facilitator: Cynthia Harris, MPH

Fee: $450

We hear it all the time: “I wish that I could have experienced something like Act Like a GRRRL when I was a teenager.” Believing it’s never too late to begin the process of self-discovery and transformation, we created Act Like a Big GRRRL.

Act Like a BIG GRRRL is a writing and performance program modeled after Act Like a GRRRL. It is for female-identifying participants 18 and older. The group gathers twice a month to share writing, gain feedback and step boldly into a new version of themselves. The work culminates in a public performance at the Actors Bridge Studio at Darkhorse Chapel.

You don’t have to have any acting or writing experience — just a desire for self-discovery and a willingness to “go deep within,” supported by this community. The only requirements are a commitment to the entire writing and performance process and a willingness to reach, stretch, grow.


The Fall 2018 Session will be facilitated by Cynthia Harris, MPH. Ms. Harris is a writer/performance artist, health educator, conjure woman and proud Southerner. Ms. Harris has been committed to the empowerment of women through art, education, research, and outreach over the past 15 years. Her original works: Phrases of Womanhood, Why Won’t She Leave?, and How to Catch a Flying Woman, explore issues of gender, identity, body image, personhood, spirituality, community and African heritage.

The Big GRRRL program is guided by Vali Forrister. This model is based on Vali’s graduate work in the performance of personal narratives for personal and social change. Vali has created a very successful 3 step process using intimate life texts for personal transformation. Read Vali’s bio.


Cynthia provides writing prompts that encourage personal interpretation. We meet twice a month to share our writing aloud and get feedback and insights from others in the circle.

In late November, we’ll select our favorite writing pieces to be edited into a script for a group performance. We will perform in April at the Actors Bridge Studio at Darkhorse Chapel.


Our next circle starts with a day-long retreat on Saturday, September 29, 2018, and continues with Tuesday evening meetings to follow. The full schedule is below.


Day-long Opening Retreat

Saturday, September 29th, noon to 8 p.m.

Actors Bridge Woodbine Studio and Vali Forrister’s Home

We will set our personal intentions for the process and work with some guest artists to learn new approaches to accessing our own creative spark. Then, we’ll transition to Vali’s home to share fire and food and drink.

Weekly Meetings – Sharing Writing – 6:30-9:30 p.m. at Actors Bridge Woodbine Studio

Every Other Tuesday:

Oct 2, 9, 23

Nov 6, 13, 27


Dec 1, 2

Performances at Actors Bridge Studio at Darkhorse Chapel

Saturday, December 8 at 7 p.m.

Sunday, December 9 at 3 p.m.

All told, it is:

  • 8-hour opening retreat
  • 6 3-hour writing sharing meetings
  • 2 rehearsals
  • 2 performances

30+ hours together

Act Like a GRRRL and Act Like a Big GRRRL are programs created by Vali Forrister and licensed for use by Actors Bridge Ensemble.

Actors Bridge Refund Policy: There are no cash refunds. Any student who withdraws after paying will be issued a transferable credit good for use on any class for up to one year.

RESERVE YOUR SPOT NOW: https://big-grrrl2018.eventbrite.com


HTCAFW – Nashville Scene Critic’s Pick

She Said/She Said: How to Catch a Flying Woman

Photo: Rick Malkin

This weekend, Actors Bridge presents a choreopoem — that is, a combination of poetry, dance and song — by Cynthia Harris called How to Catch a Flying Woman. The piece is about women who follow big ideas that go against the grain. These women take risks. They walk away from distractions. And sometimes, when soaring toward a big idea, they fall. Who will pick them up and carry them home?

Harris says she wanted to capture the way black women speak to each other and affirm one another’s humanity. The production will combine poetry, dance, movement and song in the style of Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf.

Harris, who stole the show in February’s production of The Vagina Monologues at City Winery, stars alongside OlaOmi Amoloku, Tasneem Grace Tewogbola, L. Opanike Shelton and Nailah Ajamu. This is the final show in Actors Bridge’s series She Said/She Said: A Summer of Women’s Stories. 



HTCAFW in the News

Actors Bridge showcases women’s voices with ‘She Said/She Said’ by Amy Strumpfl

Full article available here

At a time when so many important issues are impacting the lives of women, it seems only natural that women should be leading the conversation. And that’s exactly what Actors Bridge Ensemble has in mind with “She Said/She Said: A Summer of Women’s Stories.”

“Our mission at Actors Bridge is to tell the stories that matter,” says Actors Bridge artistic director Vali Forrister. “And to me, that means opening up space for the stories of women and girls. All of the issues that we’re facing right now — whether it’s the separation of families or the #MeToo movement — have women at their center. So I really wanted to tap into those stories and themes, while working with some of Nashville’s most incredible artists.”

Those stories will take shape through multiple productions, including: “Frozen Moment,” a performance piece inspired by the #MeToo movement; “Highness,” an original fairy tale twist that explores “survival in a hierarchical society”; “How To Catch a Flying Woman,” a dramatic meditation on “women in flight”; plus a staged reading of Patrick Hamilton’s “Gas Light,” the 1938 thriller that gave rise to the term “gaslighting.”

“One of the things I love most is collecting interesting people, and connecting them to one another,” Forrister says. “So as I reached out to these amazing women, the energy was electrifying. It quickly became clear that everyone wanted to create some sort of devised work that would shine a light on these important issues. What an honor it is for me to be able to engage with people of such immense talent and passion. To be able to put our resources behind them, to help them bring their visions to life is incredibly gratifying.”

Playwright/performance artist Cynthia C. Harris agrees, calling “She Said/She Said” a “bold and diverse collective of talented women artists.”

“Vali always finds a way to make space for other people to be creative — and especially the women in her life,” Harris says. “I’m so excited to be part of this work. There’s such beauty and power in these stories.”

Harris refers to “How To Catch a Flying Woman” as a “choreopoem” — much in the style of Ntozake Shange’s groundbreaking “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf.”

“A woman casting her vision and tending to her passion is a woman in flight,” Harris explains. “But flight is not consistent. At some point, you’re going to have to land — and sometimes those landings can be pretty rough. I believe we have a responsibility to support and care for all those fabulous flying women, offering a safe place for renewal and restoration. But the fact is that our beloved community doesn’t always know what to do with strong women in flight. There’s all sorts of cultural information out there about what we should or shouldn’t be doing, especially if we’re brown or poor or queer.

“But a flying woman inspires us and guides us all to our best and highest. Empowered women change neighborhoods and cities every day, and women of color do it with nothing. These are the revolutionaries, the activists, the storytellers, and we all benefit from what they do.”

Olaomi Amoloku, Tasneem Grace Tewogbola, L. Opanike Shelton and Nailah Ajamu will join Harris onstage for “Flying Woman,” which is directed by Helen Shute-Pettaway.

“As a writer, it’s so exciting to have these phenomenal women place their trust in me,” Harris says. “And I’m so thrilled to be working with Helen again. She directed the first piece I ever wrote, when I was about 21 or 22 years old. She approached that piece so professionally. She took me seriously and pushed me to do my best, and I’ve never forgotten the experience. To connect with her again in this way is such an honor. That’s what ‘Flying Woman’ is all about.”

If you go

What: Actors Bridge Ensemble presents “She Said/She Said: A Summer of Women’s Stories”
When: July 20-Aug. 5. (Visit website for complete performance schedule.)
Where: Belmont’s Black Box Theater, 1575 Compton Ave., in Nashville
Tickets: $15-$20


How to Catch a Flying Woman – Aug. 3-5

I am incredibly excited to debut my latest work, How to Catch a Flying Woman (HTCAFW).  It’s been a long time coming.  Here, I’ve written about my experiences in life, love and loss over the past decade.  In all my work, I try to get to the essential truth of a thing.  I need to understand the experiences that motivate human choices and set us on a certain course.  HTCAFW allows us to consider the experience of being a woman with a vision, one that may be challenged familial and cultural pressures to conform rather than soar.

As a beloved community, it is our responsibility to catch our flying women, should they fall from flight.  Flying women inspire and transform everything they touch.  Flying women are necessary.  Flying women will lead us into the future.

HTCAFW is a collection of meditations on flight, presented as a choreo-poem. Audience members are not only spectators, but participants in this community ritual of healing and transformation.

If you’re in Nashville August 3 – 5, please check us out.  Belmont’s Black Box Theater

Friday 8/3/2018 7:30 pm
Saturday 8/4/18 7:30 pm
**Sunday  8/5/2018 6:00 pm

Tickets are $20 and are available here.




She Said/She Said

Please join us this summer as Actors Bridge Ensemble celebrates women storytellers this summer!

by Cynthia Harris

Friday, Aug 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Aug 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Aug 5 at 6 p.m.
Belmont Black Box Theater

Tickets: https://she-said-she-said.eventbrite.com

A woman casting her vision and tending to her passion is a woman in flight.  Flight, however, is not consistent. A flying woman needs her beloved community to provide places for safety and restoration. A flying woman inspires us and guides us all to our best and highest.  When she falls, will we do more than witness?


Lilith, but Dark: An Afternoon with Nichole Perkins

Saturday, June 23, 1 p.m.
Actors Bridge Studio at Darkhorse Chapel
Donations to benefit Act Like a Grrrl

Tickets: https://she-said-she-said.eventbrite.com

Lilith, but Dark is a new collection of poetry which reveals a series of confessions and penances, exploring a southern black woman’s tour through lover’s lament. It explores intimacies from home to the schoolyard to the bedroom. It is a journey through tornado alley, a search for power and peace in the eye of a southern storm.


Act Like a GRRRL – Indian Creek Camp

Stories, dances, and songs from the GRRRLS returning from Indian Creek Camp, Act Like a GRRRL’s first completely sleep-away camp.

Saturday, July 28 at 2 p.m.
Belmont Black Box Theater

More Info: https://actorsbridge.org/act-like-a-grrrl/


TN Women’s March 2.0

Healing Waters Founder, Cynthia Harris, MPH, will be participating in the TN Women’s March 2.0’s Artivism Panel, representing Actors Bridge Ensemble and their autobiographical writing program, Act Like a Grrrl, Inc.  Ms. Harris is excited to talk about her ongoing work with the arts-based youth development program and the importance of women coming to voice.  The Artivism panel will “explore the convergence of arts and activism in breaking the silence, healing division, and reclaiming creative energy.”

Please see details below and visit https://tnpowertogether.org/ for more information.


Before the march,
Power Together TN will host a half-day conference focused on educating and empowering attendees to become engaged on local and state levels. Conference session topics are artivism, faith and spirituality, grassroots organizing, youth, legislative skills and issues, understanding elections, and a federal and gubernatorial candidate forum. Several prominent organizations will host the sessions, including Emerge Tennessee, American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, Planned Parenthood, the Tennessee Immigrants & Refugee Coalition, Showing Up for Racial Justice, and Black Lives Matter Memphis Chapter. “The success of this year’s march is vitally important to continuing the work we started last year,” said Francie Hunt, executive director of Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood. “We are transitioning from a time of simply resisting the bad policies of this administration to
proactively moving forward with our vision in which every woman, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status, disability or citizenship, is able to care for herself and nurture her family free from structural impediments.”

The conference and caucus luncheons will be held at Tennessee State University’s Avon
Williams Campus from 8 a.m.–2 p.m. Full registration details and tickets can be found at

About Power Together TN/Women’s March 2.0
Power Together Tennessee is the Tennessee chapter of the Women’s March, whose mission is to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change. Women’s March is a women-led movement providing intersectional education on a range of issues and creating entry points for new grassroots activists and organizers to engage in their local communities through trainings, outreach programs and events.


Vagina Monologues benefit for Act Like a GRRRL 2/16/18


Actors Bridge Ensemble presents the V-Day Nashville 2018 benefit performance of the award-winning The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler, directed by Vali Forrister, on Friday, February 16th. Doors open at 5 p.m. Show at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $25 – $40 and benefit Act Like a GRRRL scholarships.

For more information on Actors Bridge and Act Like a GRRRL visit www.actorsbridge.org