Babes With Blades Continues Season with the Chicago Premiere of THE GOOD FIGHT
Babes With Blades Theatre Company (BWBTC) continues its 20th Anniversary Season: "Origins" with the Chicago premiere of The Good Fight, playing at City Lit Theater, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., January 6 - February 17, 2018. Developed in 2011 through BWBTC's Fighting Words program under the title Deeds Not Words, the play is written by Anne Bertram, executive director of Theatre Unbound, a Minneapolis/St. Paul company devoted to work by and about women. Elizabeth Lovelady, a Jeff Award-winning artist based in Chicago, directs The Good Fight, which features combat by Violence Designer Gaby Labotka with Assistant Violence Designer Almanya Narula.
Preview performances are Saturday, Jan. 6 at 8 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 7 at 3 p.m., Friday, Jan. 12 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 13 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 14 at 3 p.m. Opening Night is Monday, Jan. 15 at 8 p.m. Regular performances are Thursdays - Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Preview tickets are $10, student and senior tickets are $15, early bird general admission (available online through January 15, 2018) are $20 and general admission (after January 15, 2018) are $25. To purchase tickets and for more information, please visit BabesWithBlades.org.
The Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), led by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel, was the primary militant group pushing for women's suffrage in the United Kingdom. Under the slogan "Deeds, not words," the WSPU advocated targeting property as a form of protest, from smashing shop windows to burning and bombing buildings. Imprisoned WSPU members - including Pankhurst - launched hunger strikes, which were initially countered by the authorities with force-feeding; later the government introduced the "Cat and Mouse Act," under which starving suffragettes were released, only to be re-imprisoned once regaining their health. To defend their leaders and comrades, the WSPU established "The Bodyguard" - a secret, all-female security team, trained in jiu-jitsu - and the good fight began.
So what do British women from the early 20th century have to say to today's audiences?
"They had to arrive at answers for questions that sound awfully familiar: When is it OK to use violence? What difference does it make if women are in power? If you believe a law is unjust, should you break it?" said Playwright Anne Bertram. "It's also good to remind ourselves about the price these women paid to secure women's voting rights. They were imprisoned, tortured, force-fed. Some died." Adds Director Elizabeth Lovelady, "The US has plenty of problems, but we have so many rights and comforts that women in other parts of the world don't enjoy. During our auditions, as an example of how 'this is still happening,' I frequently referenced the fact that women in Saudi Arabia aren't allowed to drive. But since our auditions took place, the law has changed - and the change was largely influenced by women who broke the law and drove, and posted videos of it online. I think there's a lesson there, that you have to resist, but you also have to publicize your resistance to really influence a change. And that's a thing the women in this play do really well."
Lovelady continues, "Lately there's so much discussion of white feminism (meaning white women who only care about moving themselves forward and don't recognize or try to address the unique issues that women of color face), which has been an issue with feminism since the get-go. So one way that I'm trying to bring this play out of the "history" department and into the "now" department is by casting a diverse array of women. To be clear, it's still set in the original time period, but we are populating the play with a group of women who don't look like you would expect. Instead they look like the people you'd ride the El with, making it speak more to the present. I hope that including women of color in this production will be a reminder that we are all in this together. And her rights are my rights. And if she's oppressed, we all need to stand up and fight."
The cast of The Good Fight includes Scottie Caldwell, "Gertrude Harding;" Elisabeth Del Toro, "Mary;" Alison Dornheggen*, "Christabel Pankhurst/Edith Garrud;" Delia Ford*, "Harriet Kerr;" David Kaplinsky, "Mr. Dickinson/Charlie/Inspector McBrien/Constable;" Jean Marie Koon, "Emmeline Pankhurst;" Jillian Leff, "Cicely;" Arielle Leverett, "Grace Roe;" C. Jaye Miller, "Hilda;" Taylor Raye, "Emily Wilding Davison/Wardess;" Joseff Stevenson, "Home Secretary McKenna/Constable/Inspector Gray/Prison Guard" and Richard Traub, "Mr. Hunt/Bill/Constable/jujitsu demonstrator" with Tina Arfaee and Catherine Dvorak*, understudies.
The production team for The Good Fight includes Anne Bertram, playwright and Elizabeth Lovelady, director with Samantha Barr, production manager; Lauren Brady, assistant stage manager; Kenya Hall, dramaturg; Rose Hamill, stage manager; Carrie Hardin, dialect coach; Gaby Labotka, violence design; Kimberly G. Morris*, costume design; Almanya Narula, assistant violence design; Patrick O'Brien, sound design; Rachel Rauscher, scenic design; Arielle Valene, properties design and Becca Venable, lighting design and technical director.
*denotes BWBTC ensemble member
The Good Fight SPECIAL EVENTS
Open Caption Weekend
January 25 - 28
All performances this weekend of The Good Fight feature open captioning by Caption Point, on a screen provided by the Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium (CCAC) Accessible Equipment Loan Program."Women's Suffrage: A Radical Difference in Tactics" - A Post-Show Talkback
Sunday, Jan. 28
Emily E. LB. Twarog, PhD (assistant professor of History and Labor Studies at the University of Illinois' School of Labor and Employment Relations - Labor Education Program; director of the Regina V. Polk Women's Labor Leadership Conference) and Tony Wolf (author of Edith Garrud: The Suffragette Who Knew Jujutsu, Suffrajitsu: Mrs. Pankhurst's Amazons; co-producer of No Man Shall Protect Us) compare and contrast the largely peaceful and law-abiding women's suffrage movement in the US with the radical militancy that characterized the UK movement between the years 1902-1914.
Pay What You Can Performances
Thursdays - Jan. 18, Jan. 25, Feb. 1, and Feb. 8
To reserve a PWYC seat, call 773-904-0391.
February 15 - 17
The Babes will be taking a post-show collection in honor of IMPACT Chicago at all performances this weekend. IMPACT is committed to ending violence and building a non-violent world in which all people can live safely and with dignity. By teaching self-defense, IMPACT provides women and girls with the tools they need to prevent, minimize, and stop violence. IMPACT Chicago is committed to making its programs accessible to people of all economic, racial/ethnic, and social groups. For more information on IMPACT Chicago, please go to www.impactchicago.org.
ABOUT ANNE BERTRAM, PLAYWRIGHT
Anne Bertram is a founding artistic associate of Theatre Unbound, a Minneapolis/St. Paul company devoted to work by and about women. She currently serves as its executive director. Her work as a playwright has been seen in venues from off-Off Broadway to middle-school classrooms in Fargo, as well as successful runs with Theatre Unbound, including Murderess (2011) and The Good Fight (2012). Awards and commissions include Northwestern University's Agnes Nixon Playwriting Award (lovehateforgive), The Playwrights' Center's Jones Commission (The Donner Gold), StudioZ's Playwright in Electronic Residence Commission (St. Luke's) and the Tennessee Williams One-Act Prize (Liability).
ABOUT ELIZABETH LOVELADY, DIRECTOR
Elizabeth Lovelady is a director, playwright, arts administrator and sometimes performer. She won the 2016 non-equity Jeff for Best Adaptation for D.O.A. with Strawdog Theatre, which she also directed. She is an artistic associate of Red Theater where she directed Prince Max's Trewly Awful Trip to the Desolat Interior and 20% Theatre where she directed Fanny's First Play and Photograph 51. Other favorite directing credits include Lone Star/Laundry and Bourbon, Crimes of the Heart, The Dining Room (Oil Lamp); The War to End War: Los Alamos (The Island) and Off the Spectrum, a devised piece she created as part of Red Tape Theatre's Fresh Eyes project. She also created and performed the one-woman show A Simple Lesson in Baking with Marie Antoinette.
ABOUT GABY LABOTKA, VIOLENCE DESIGNER
Gaby Labotka previously worked with BWBTC as assistant violence designer and Gloucester/Hartleur/John Bates for Henry V. Most recently, Labotka directed Wasteland Hero for the Reutan Collective and was the the violence director for Night in Alachua County presented by WildClaw Theatre. She is currently the fight choreographer/assistant director for 'Twas the Night Before Christmas presented by Emerald City Theatre. She is an advanced actor combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD) and is frequently a teaching assistant for stage combat classes at Movement and Combat Education (MACE), The Actors Gymnasium and regional stage combat workshops. She is a proud member of the Alliance of Latinx Theatre Artists (ALTA).
ABOUT Almanya Narula, ASSISTANT VIOLENCE DESIGNER
Almanya Narula is an actor, combatant, fight choreographer and voiceover artist from Bangkok, Thailand. She is affiliated with both the Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD) and the British Academy of Stage & Screen Combat (BASSC). Most recently she was the fight choreographer and lead actor in the music video for Nickelback's "Feed the Machine." In Chicago, she was recently featured in the Factory Theater's production of Fight City; she was also the fight choreographer for productions with Steep Theatre Company and Jackalope Theatre Company.
ABOUT BABES WITH BLADES THEATRE COMPANY
Gender parity is a hot topic, with news clip after article after report documenting how women, and women's stories, are still underrepresented. Babes With Blades Theatre Company's response - now, for the past 20 years, and moving forward - is to develop and present scripts focused on complex, dynamic (and often combative) female characters.
In each element of their programming, they embrace two key concepts:
1) Women are central to the story, driving the action rather than responding or submitting to it
2) Women are capable of a full emotional and physical range, up to and including violence and its consequences.
The company offers participants and patrons alike an unparalleled opportunity to experience women as heroes and villains; rescuers and rescuees; right, wrong, and everywhere in between: exciting, vivid, dynamic PEOPLE. It's as simple and as subversive as that.
Babes With Blades Theatre Company (BWBTC) continues its 20th Anniversary Season: "Origins" with the Chicago premiere of The Good Fight, playing at City Lit Theater, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., January 6 - February 17, 2018. Developed in 2011 through BWBTC's Fighting Words program under the title Deeds Not Words, the play is written by Anne Bertram, executive director of Theatre Unbound, a Minneapolis/St. Paul company devoted to work by and about women. Elizabeth Lovelady, a Jeff Award-winning artist based in Chicago, directs The Good Fight, which features combat by Violence Designer by Gaby Labotka with Assistant Violence Designer Almanya Narula. Preview performances are Saturday, Jan. 6 at 8 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 7 at 3 p.m., Friday, Jan. 12 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 13 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 14 at 3 p.m. Opening Night is Monday, Jan. 15 at 8 p.m. Regular performances are Thursdays - Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Preview tickets are $10, student and senior tickets are $15, early bird general admission (available online through January 15, 2018) are $20 and general admission (after January 15, 2018) are $25. To purchase tickets and for more information, please visit BabesWithBlades.org.