Re-Invention Project

Two Critically Acclaimed Playwrights Collaborate to Tell the Stories of Women Re-Creating Themselves in Nashville, written and produced with the support of a Metro Arts Creation Grant

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. A pre-interview survey is available online at


The concept grew out of conversations between Harris and Forrister about how Nashville’s current “IT City” status attracts newcomers looking for a fresh start at life. They also realized how many women they knew who had grown up in Nashville who had amazing stories of self-transformation.


Forrister explains:  “You can tell from the popularity of makeover reality shows that our culture is obsessed with stories of change: physical change, psychological change and even residential change. The focus tends to be on Before Stories (‘I was so broken by life’) and After Stories (‘look how perfect I am now’) while ignoring the Process Stories (‘here’s how I got there’).  Process Stories are the ones that interest us because they provide the real roadmaps to personal transformation.”


Harris adds:  “We are interested stories all of kinds, the difficult as well as the happy endings. We want to know about the life events that required you to reconsider yourself in relationship to your world, your neighbors, your family.”


The team is focusing their lens specifically on women because they have well-established expertise in the academic scholarship surrounding the telling, scripting and performing of women’s stories.

Nashville is full of women who have compelling stories of re-invention: the immigrant who was a doctor in her country of origin and works as a housekeeper now because her medical degree is not recognized here; the stay-at-home-mom re-entering the workplace after 15 years and a brutal divorce; the small-town girl who became a country music superstar; the rape victim who became nationally recognized for her girls empowerment program; the elderly woman who left her abusive husband of 50 years and now lives alone for the first time in her life; the teenage girl who decided not to be a bully anymore; the former prostitute who is now a homeowner and business leader.

Woven together, these stories will create a rich tapestry of life experiences to inspire audiences of all backgrounds and help fulfill the Actors Bridge mission to create new work that encourages Nashville to care more about our neighbors and ourselves.

Harris and Forrister seek stories from women of all ages, races, faiths, cultures, sexual identities, gender expression, and socio-economic backgrounds.

Women interested in telling their story are encouraged to fill out a pre-interview brief survey found at

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.


About the Playwrights

Ms. Cynthia C Harris 

Vali Forrister 



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