Tomei, Swados, Ensler, Etc. Set for Women Center Stage Fest

Culture Project has announced the schedule for its upcoming 2007 Women Center Stage Festival festival (WCS), the annual multi-disciplinary event featuring women artists whose work calls attention to human struggles globally, running June 25 through­ July 17, 2007. The three-week festival, with more than 25 events, will take place at Culture Project's new SoHo home (55 Mercer Street) as well as The Knitting Factory and P.S. 122.

"Currently in its 11th year, WCS will gather artists, activists, thinkers and other crucial voices to share stories and ideas, and challenge one another to act and react.  Among those scheduled to participate are Eve Ensler, Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei, Samantha Power, Staceyann Chin, Elizabeth Swados, Azar Nafisi, Olivia Wilde, Patricia Foulkrod, Julie Goldman and Letty Cotton Pogrebin, among many others," as described in press materials.

"The festival's theater component will feature the premiere of Lear deBessonet's re-working of Brecht's St. Joan of the Stockyards (a collaboration with P.S. 122); Elizabeth Swados' funny and edgy cabaret, Political Subversities; a workshop production of Marisa Tomei and David Strathairn in scholar and psychologist Carol Gilligan's adaptation of The Scarlet Letter, directed by Leigh Silverman; and the festival return of poet Staceyann Chin.

The festival film component will include a sneak peak of Kamp Katrina, Ashley Sabin and David Redmon's film about Ms. Pearl, a New Orleans native who converts her backyard into a tent city; The Ground Truth, Patricia Foulkrod's acclaimed film that follows ordinary men and women who enlisted military service in Iraq; and Town Bloody Hall, the wry 1979 documentary by Chris Hegedus and DA Pennebaker that chronicles the 1971 evening when local literati and feminists packed Town Hall to watch Norman Mailer grapple with a panel of passionate feminists.

WCS will also present the EMANCIPATE concert series at The Knitting Factory, featuring women artists who are activists in their communities around the world, including Cris Williamson, Eisa Davis, and Alix Olson.  On the morning of each concert, the artists will gather at the McNally Robinson Bookstore on Prince Street to meet with grassroots activists based in NYC for an open-to-the-public breakfast conversation about the integration of art and activism.  Partner organizations include Make the Road by Walking, New York Jobs with Justice and the Third Wave Foundation.

Lizz Winstead will headline a hilarious all-women comedian concert and comedian Julie Goldman will premiere new work.

As a cornerstone of the festival WCS will feature Conversations ­ part of an ongoing new series at Culture Project that offers audiences a weekly arena to hear pioneering and expert thinkers speaking about today's most relevant issues.  Conversations participants include changemakers like Samantha Power and Azar Nafisi, Barbara Ehrenreich and Carol Gilligan, Laura Flanders and many more."

According to WCS festival director, Olivia Greer, "The festival takes women out of the ghetto of 'women's issues' and brings focus to all human issues.  We are very excited by the performances, and the ultimate artistic and intellectual exchange that will take place during these three summer weeks."

The advisors to WCS include Kim Brizzolara, Hampton's International Film Festival and Films of Conflict and Resolution Co-Chair; Eve Ensler, Playwright, V-Day Founder and Artistic Director; Carol Gilligan, Author and Psychologist; Lekha Singh, Photographer and Aidmatrix Foundation Founder; and Olivia Wilde, Actress and Activist.

Culture Project Artistic Director Allan Buchman introduced Woman Center Stage in 1996 to address the starkly consistent under-representation of women artists.  "I felt it was important to create a destination to celebrate women artists, to acknowledge the crucial impact of this work, and to offer space to continue to generate it."

"For more than a decade, Culture Project has presented award-winning theatre at the intersection between politics and culture, bringing essential social, political and moral issues to life on a national stage. The Exonerated, Sarah Jones' Bridge & Tunnel, Guantanamo, AMAJUBA: Like Doves We Rise, many works through the IMPACT festival 2006 and, most recently, Lawrence Wright's My Trip To Al-Qaeda received their national premieres at Culture Project. 

Tickets for all WCS events are available through the Culture Project box office at www.cultureproject.org and (212) 925-1900.  For further information, access the WCS site  For a complete schedule of WCS events, as well as event descriptions, visit this link.

Photo - Marisa Tomei



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