This article was written by Amy Strumpfl and was originally printed in the Tennessean.
Nashville’s leading ladies lend talents to ‘GRRRLS Night Out’
Over the past decade, Actors Bridge Artistic Director Vali Forrister has been empowering young women through Act Like a GRRRL (ALAG). An autobiographical writing and performance program for teenage girls, ALAG offers an inspiring celebration of personal truth and authenticity.
And on April 17 and 18, some of Nashville’s most talented leading ladies will gather for another kind of celebration — “GRRRLS Night Out.”
“We usually stage ‘The Vagina Monologues’ as a fundraiser for Act Like a GRRRL scholarships,” explains Forrister. “But when these dates became available at Darkhorse Theater, I started thinking about another kind of event.”
Actually, Forrister had been thinking about it since Superbowl Sunday.
“During this year’s Super Bowl, there was a compelling ad campaign that asked what it means to do something ‘like a girl.’ Run like a girl, throw like a girl — it’s never meant as a good thing. Of course, that’s what we’re all about — helping these girls to step beyond society’s expectations and limitations to become strong, confident GRRRLs.”
In the spirit of that movement, Forrister decided to invite some of Nashville’s best and brightest writers, actors, musicians and dancers to share what it means to them to do life “like a GRRRL.” Directed by Forrister — along with Actors Bridge company liaison Rachel Agee — the cast for “GRRRLS Night Out” includes Kim Bretton, Amanda Card, Wendi Dalby, Caroline Davis, Michele Flynn, Cassie Hamilton, Cynthia Harris, Gabrielle Saliba, Annie Sellick, Tasneem Grace Tewogbola, Abby White and Alicia Williams.
“It’s an amazing lineup, with everyone presenting original works created just for this event,” Forrister says. “And all proceeds go to scholarships for the Act Like a GRRRL program in June.”
For Saliba, a dancer, choreographer, educator and longtime ALAG leader, “GRRRLS Night Out” provides a natural extension of her work with ALAG Nashville and its satellite program in Washington, D.C.
“A big component of the program is bringing in guest artists — strong adult women from all walks of life who share their own stories and demonstrate what it looks like to pursue your dreams,” Saliba says. “It’s powerful because the girls carry these stories with them and draw from their wisdom long after the program ends.
“I feel lucky to be involved in ‘GRRRLS Night Out,’ and I’m excited to share my story,” she adds. “But I’m even more excited to hear from all of the other performers. There’s so much talent and so much passion for this program. I think these stories will resonate with everyone, both on stage and in the audience.”
If you go
What: Actors Bridge Ensemble presents “GRRRLS Night Out”
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: Darkhorse Theater, 4610 Charlotte Ave.
Tickets: $20 in advance via http://grrrls-night-out.eventbrite.com; $25 at the door
Actors Bridge Ensemble presents GRRRLS NIGHT OUT – an All-Star Performance of Original Stories, Dances and Songs
to Raise Money for Act Like a GRRRL Scholarships
Two Nights Only at the Darkhorse Theater 4/17 & 4/18!
This year’s GRRRL Scholarship fundraiser was inspired by an advertisement during this year’s Super Bowl, which asked 100 million viewers across the nation to consider, “What does it mean to do something like a girl?” Run like a girl. Throw like a girl. Fight like a girl. Every example revealed one startling reality — “like a girl” was never a good thing.
Healing Waters Productions (HWP) is honored to support Act Like a GRRRL* (ALAG), Actors Bridge’s autobiographical writing and performance program, where teenage girls write about their lives and transform their thoughts into public performance. ALAG has spent the last decade exploding the box that traps young women into a constricted and destructive definition of what it means to be a girl in our society and empowering them with the tools to live bold, authentic lives. HWP Founder, Cynthia C Harris, has been supporting ALAG as audience member, ally, and guest artist since its creation in 2005 by Vali Forrister. HWP supports ALAG’s mission to empower teenage girls to explode the box in which our society can limit them. If you’re wondering about the effectiveness of the program, to date, 100 percent of our graduates have gone to college. There is no reported truancy, unwanted pregnancy or drug abuse among participants. In short, this program works!
The fundraiser is directed by Actors Bridge Company Liaison Rachel Agee and Artistic Director/ALAG Founder Vali Forrister. The performance will feature a high-profile collection of musicians, actors, writers and cultural observers to define what it means to them to do life “like a GRRRL.” For two nights only, on April 17 and 18, they will speak, sing, dance, and shape-shift their stories to life as part of GRRRLS NIGHT OUT: an all star fundraising performance for GRRRL scholarships at the Darkhorse Theater, 4610 Charlotte Avenue in Nashville.
HWP’s Founder, Cynthia C Harris, joins the cast including Kim Bretton, Amanda Card, Wendi Dalby, Caroline Davis, Cassie Hamilton, Gabrielle Saliba, Annie Sellick, Tasneem Grace Tewogbola, Abby White and Alicia Williams.
4610 Charlotte Avenue
Nashville, TN 37209
Advanced Tickets (General Admission ): $20 available at http://grrrls-night-out.eventbrite.com
Door Tickets (General Admission): $25. | Cash, check and credit cards accepted.
*The Act Like a GRRRL summer session runs June 13-26, 2015. Performances are June 25 and 26 at the Belmont Black Box Theater, where Actors Bridge is a professional theater in residence. Tuition is $1250. Some need-based scholarships are available.
Two Critically Acclaimed Playwrights Collaborate to Tell the Stories of Women Re-Creating Themselves
Thanks to a Metro Arts Creation Grant, Actors Bridge Ensemble has commissioned Artistic Director Vali Forrister and well-known local playwright Cynthia Harris to create a new play based on oral histories of women who have come to Nashville to reinvent themselves. The two are currently recruiting women interested in being interviewed as part of the project.
In-person oral history interviews will last approximately 90 minutes and will be conducted between January and May, 2015. Interviews can be de-identified for those who wish to remain anonymous.
The script that is created from these interviews will receive its world premiere production as part of Actors Bridge Ensemble’s 20th Anniversary Season in 2016.
Through the generous support of Nashville Public Library, the oral histories collected through this project will be preserved in NPL’s Special Collections Center.
Community partners in this project include Casa Azafrán, Conexión Américas and the Nashville Public Library.
We are excited to announce that Healing Waters Productions will participate in this year’s Sideshow Fringe Festival, an annual event celebrating progressive performing artists in Nashville, TN.
On Sunday, August 3rd at 4:30 pm, Healing Waters presents “Why Won’t She Leave?” – a salon style evening of participatory theater and dialogue. The audience members choose roles as we collectively tell the story of a young woman navigating the complexities of an intimate relationship. The performance contains some adult language and references to gender based violence.
Sideshow Fringe Festival presents Why Won’t She Leave?
Sunday, August 3, 2014
Purchase tickets here ( http://www.eventbrite.com/e/sideshow-fringe-festival-2014-tickets-12202844035).
The space inside Actors Bridge studio is immediately intimate. Cushioned benches line the walls, blankets are strewn about, pillows make each corner cozy, and hand-painted blue-purple walls complement a golden fabric ceiling.
Community educator and local playwright Cynthia Harris sits nestled among a group of girls ages 12-18. They lean on one another as Harris delves into some of her past hardships and tells the girls, “Ask for the help you need when you need it. You don’t get extra points for doing it the hard way.”
Harris was a guest speaker for local program Act Like a GRRRL, which aims to provide a safe space and community for girls to form their own voice and learn how to navigate being a woman through friendship, mentorship and the art of writing.
“I think anywhere women gather, there is storytelling and healing going on,” Harris said. Her mother was a hairdresser, and she spent much of her childhood sitting in the beauty parlor and listening to women share their stories.
Act Like a GRRRL provides a similar environment to girls who are existing in a world where cyber-bullying and Queen B culture are the norm. Over the course of June, they create an original performance, including monologues, dances and a co-written song. This year marks the program’s 10th anniversary. Guest artists like Harris are brought in over the course of the program to show the girls that women can accomplish amazing things.
“These young girls, and girls in general, are a precious resource. It is true that you can judge the health of a community and a nation by the health of the women and girls. I am just as educated and blessed by them as I hope that they can be by participating in this process.”
Reach Journalist Paige Pfleger at email@example.com| 615-259-8072 | Twitter @PaigePfleger.
Photo: John Partipilo / The Tennessean
Go to a GRRRL show
What: A performance that combines original, student-created theater, music and dance through the Act Like a GRRRL program.
When: 7:30 p.m. June 26 and 27
Where: Belmont University’s Black Box Theater (1575 Compton Ave., Nashville)
Cost: $15 adults, $10 students
Info: To learn more, volunteer for the program or make a donation, visit http://actlikeagrrrl.org