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Ruthie Fierberg Launches New Podcast WHY WE THEATER

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Ruthie Fierberg Launches New Podcast WHY WE THEATER

Ruthie Fierberg has announced the debut of her new podcast Why We Theater. The premiere episode will be available July 15, with new episodes released every subsequent Thursday for a limited season, exclusively from the Broadway Podcast Network and wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Find it now at BPN.FM/WWT.

The intersection of theatre and social justice, Why We Theater digs into today's most thought-provoking and urgent onstage works with the artists who made them and real-world experts who advise us on how we can create impactful change in our offstage lives. "I like to think of 'theater' not just as a place or a presentation but as an action," Fierberg says. "'To theater' is to engage with art presented onstage. The curtain call of a play or musical is not the end of the experience; it's the beginning."

Each episode begins with a one-on-one discussion between host Ruthie Fierberg and the artist behind the theatrical piece at hand and then opens up to include real-world experts in that field to offer advice and steps to help us all take actions (re-wire a thought pattern, sign a petition, donate to a related charity, volunteer for a related organization, etc.) and manifest progress.

"In 2014, I saw the Broadway production of Ayad Akhtar's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Disgraced. The play rocked me," Fierberg explains. "That night at the theatre six years ago is when I realized: Artists start the conversation. We, as an audience, have a responsibility to do more than witness the reflection of society when artists hold up that proverbial mirror. It's time to continue the conversation.

"Over the past eight months, with the generous support of BPN, these theatre makers, and experts, my idea has finally come to fruition as Why We Theater."

In the premiere episode "School Girls... and Colorism, Beauty, and Self-Esteem in Women, Girls, and Femmes", Why We Theatre welcomes playwright Jocelyn Bioh and experts Afia Ofori-Mensa (Author, upcoming How to Win a Beauty Contest (Not an Instruction Manual)) and Maryann Jacob Macias (Senior director, National Crittenton) to discuss Bioh's breakout play School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play. In addition to dissecting the work itself, this group of women engage in a powerful discussion about the manifestations and consequences of colorism, who determines beauty ideals, and how to empower women, girls, and femmes. Plus, listeners learn the personal biases to reexamine, organizations to support, as well as how to demand change from beauty product companies and magazines that sell beauty.

"For me and colorism and my journey to kind of owning my beauty as a dark-skinned woman is kind of like a lifelong journey. The play does feel more show than tell. ... I wanted people to just experience what I experienced, see how I felt for literally 30 plus years of my life. Whatever I had to offer was immediately questioned. And I felt that in everything. I felt that hanging out with my girlfriends going out, you know, in college, going out to the club and like the guys who wanted to dance with my friends and never wanted to dance with me. I felt that when I would audition." - Jocelyn Bioh

"The images that we see every day have a real power over what we understand the world to be, over what we understand normalcy to be, over what we think we should look like. We look at images of other people a lot of times more often than we look at our own faces during the kind of reality of what we think ought to be." - Afia Ofori-Mensa

"There are girls all around the world doing incredible, wonderful, amazing things. If we can focus on that a little bit more than other toxic things, I think that'll make a huge difference in the conversation." - Maryann Jacob Macias

Future episodes include:

July 23: "The Lifespan of a Fact and Integrity in Journalism" with Leigh Silverman (Tony-nominated director), Ira Glass (This American Life), and Barbara Brandon-Croft (Research Director, The Parents Network; creator, Where I'm Coming From).

July 30: "Octet and Internet Addiction" with Annie Tippe (Drama Desk-nominated director), Mary Helen Immordino-Yang (Professor of Education, Neurology, Psychology US), Hilarie Cash (co-founder/Chief Clinical Director, reSTART), and Daphne Larose (Senior Software Engineer, Niantic Inc.).

August 6: "Soft Power and Democracy, Asian-American Culture, and Foreign Affairs" with David Henry Hwang (librettist, three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist), Leigh Silverman (Tony-nominated director), Jake Sullivan (Vice President Joe Biden's National Security Advisor, senior policy advisor to Hillary Clinton 2016), and Jeff Yang (author, SF Chronicle's "Asian Pop" columnist)

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