Tell Us Your Story of Re-Invention!


HWP to Join Actors Bridge Ensembles’ GRRRLS NIGHT OUT Fundraiser

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.

Performance Schedule: Friday, April 17 at 7:30 p.m.  |  Saturday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m.

Darkhorse Theater
4610 Charlotte Avenue
Nashville, TN 37209

Advanced Tickets (General Admission ): $20 available at

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


Photo Credit: Rick King, RIK Photography

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.

 For more information about the project please visit our page!


Sideshow Fringe Festival presents Why Won’t She Leave Aug. 3rd

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.

Follow the links below to learn more about Healing Waters Productions or “Why Won’t She Leave?

Sideshow Fringe Festival presents Why Won’t She Leave?
Sunday, August 3, 2014
4:30 pm
Tickets $15.
Purchase tickets here (

Sideshow Fringe Festival July 31 - August 3rd, Nashville, TN

  Sideshow Fringe Festival
July 31 – August 3rd, Nashville, TN

Healing Waters Founder, Cynthia Harris, Featured in Tennessean


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.”

Photo: John Partipilo / The Tennessean

Photo: John Partipilo / The Tennessean

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| 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

The Weary Traveler

She has been called into transition after a major emotional event, something powerful enough to knock her off her feet and take her breath away.  She has been pushed beyond all limits, finding herself at the edge of familiar territory.  She knows that crossing the line at her feet may make her unknowable to her clan, to herself.  Yet she walks forward anyhow, with no knowledge of the rules governing this new land.  The next choices, while clear to her soul, break every rule, requiring new covenants with herself, more gradient in the measure, a louder voice, a decisive severing action.

Travelers hit the road when they can’t stay home, when standing still means drowning.  Travelers make extreme choices when there are no reasonable, pretty, quiet options available.  Travelers yell when silence serves their oppression.  The Traveler knows her happiness and sanity are more important than external opinions.  She has been attacked and offended and has no choice but to come out swinging.  She can no longer be pleasing.  She knows she risks being labeled unlovable. She knows the dangers,  raised on stories of unforgivable women, but the winds blow and the road calls.

The weary traveler may arrive angry, worn, and starving.  While she will be best served by rest, she is not sure yet if more battles will arise.  It takes so much energy to ready herself for battle; if she takes off her armor at the first resting post, will she be able to steady herself in time to meet the next blows? How does the weary traveler choose her resting place? She looks for her true kin.  More often than not, she will avoid family or at least parents, unless absolutely necessary.  Blood kin and the spaces they conduct are not hospitable, overflowing with need for the traveler to contain herself and quietly serve. The traveler is in a state of heightened awareness and sensitivity.  She only has room for her current vision, for the current version of herself, her now perspective.  It’s too distracting to interact with people who clearly expect her to act, behave, think, be, or feel a certain way.  It’s not just the expectation but the requirement of a certain interaction.  The weary traveler is exhausted and fleeing those kinds of toxic obligations.


I am no one’s secret treasure, nor property, nor honey pot of good fortune.  I am not toy nor play thing, nor source of amusement.  

I want flexibility and consideration.  I want the freedom to come and go as I please.  I want autonomy and support.  

I am no caretaker here to feed dangerously inflated egos.

She cannot tolerate hard boundaries and inflexibility.  She is in need of a soft place to land.  She is in need of “of course” and “my pleasure”, not “you shoulda”, “i told you”, and “well did you try…” The weary traveler knows that she will run as long as necessary.  She will run as long as her legs will carry her. She will run towards freedom, towards something sweeter, and she will crumble in the process if necessary.


A little bit of lightness snuck out, almost a giggle in its expanse – only registers as half a smile.  

I am grateful for being able to see, think, speak, move and act as I choose.  

I gladly sacrifice familiarity for freedom every time.

The weary traveler is in need of warmth when greeted.  She needs to meet the eyes of someone who has traveled once herself.  She needs space to think, a very simple routine and food prepared with love. She is tired of having to explain the obvious, tired of having to soothe other people’s feelings about her current emotional, physical and financial state.  She is tired of other adults  devaluing her choices.  The weary traveler has already put herself through an inquisition and still has many questions of her own. She knows that sometimes things are impossible and walking off is necessary, at least for a while.  Sometimes tornadoes blow through and you have no choice but to follow the clearest path to the next safe place,  as unknowable and unnameable as that next space may be.


How can you not understand?  How can you know all the facts and still question the choices?

How can you ask “why?”

Why can’t it just be accepted that if a woman hits the road and arrives weary, she had good reason.  Help is needed not ridicule.

It is the arrogance of the questioner, the should-be kin, that is so painful – the stance taken, as though they have never faced the ego crushing that follows heartache, loss, transition and grief. The traveler is better served by affirming or at least respecting the choices made that send the traveler to the road. The questioner sits in their safe hiding place and let many choices and exit points pass them by, but judge the traveler for taking her leap into the unknown.    The questioner’s judgment is unfair and dangerous.


Work hard, be sweet, be likable and give them cues that you can be trusted.  Be ladylike and do everything to be chosen.  Do anything and everything to overcome the assumptions attached to your blackness, regional identity, level of education, southern speech pattern and dialect.

The traveler needs to be free from assaulting eyes and questions so she can gather herself and restore balance. Being on the road too long makes her forget civility, like a soldier too long at war searching for home.  A soldier so accustomed to fighting for survival, to hyper-vigilance that she forgets to nourish herself and take deep rest.  She will wander until its worth resting, until the terrain has signs of life and livability, until community appears. It can be confusing to the witness, looking upon the traveler they say ” I could never…”  The appearance of extremity of the wanderer’s choice allows the witness to believe “those kinds of choices aren’t required if…

…If you are a good girl, if you go to school, if you are chosen by the right man, if you are smart, if you are pretty, if you get a good job, if you worship the right god the right way.”

The weary traveler knows that it is but an illusion that any layers of identity might protect us from the uncertainties of life.  The weary traveler fears the uncertainties far less than the certainties.  She is fully aware of her status as unprotected human, vulnerable to any number of commonly accepted attacks on her body and mind.  The witness knows what seeds, animals and people need to grow and thrive, but pretends that poor or brown women and children don’t need food, shelter, love, human interaction, information as those humans who get to avoid the extreme decisions and choices ascribed to the weary traveler.

The weary traveler knows the truth, that this journey is sacred.  She knows that the truth is most important, even if there are no ears and hearts courageous enough to hear it but hers.  The traveler knows that how things look on the outside reflect her current feelings and experience, but are no indication of who she is or of how she will feel or what she will see and know to be true next.

The weary traveler’s journey is not hers alone.  The traveler electrifies those that witness her action,  those sparked by even a moment in her presence. It is inspiring to see a woman casting at the speed of light, calling a path to appear even in darkness.  She sparks desire and unasked questions. She gives the itch to wander, terrifying the witness.  Her electricity pulls, calling out to the brave wanderer within, inching us to that line we know if crossed, will offer up the chance to shake up and discard every piece of us that makes us feel safe and protected from the trials of the weary traveler’s path.

House Party Discussion Questions

1. What examples of physical, verbal, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological violence did you notice in the play?

2. How did the reading make you feel?

3. What insight has this reading of “Why Won’t She Leave” given you about intimate partner violence?

4. In your opinion, why won’t she leave?

5. Often victims, rather than the perpetrators,  lose their jobs, homes, churches, families, friends, routines, and activities as a result of violence or in an attempt to find safety.  In your opinion, what kind of support should be provided by friends, family, community, employers, churches etc. to make it safe for Woman in White to remain in her home and community?

6. What steps can you take as an individual or as part of a collective to prevent intimate violence in your community?

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