Photo Flash: First Look at WOMEN BEYOND BORDERS
Rubicon Theatre continues the company's 21st "Coming of Age" season with the World Premiere of WOMEN BEYOND BORDERS, a play inspired by and loosely based on the remarkable journey of Lorraine Serena and a dynamic group of California-based artists who founded the non-profit Women Beyond Borders (WBB). Determined to "make art as if the world matters," Serena and her friends fell upon the idea of box as metaphor: hope chest, treasure chest, womb, coffin, etc. They replicated a miniature wooden box no bigger than the size of a human heart and sent the boxes to curators and friends in other countries with the goal of encouraging dialogue, collaboration and community among women and honoring creativity. The founders of WBB were astonished at what came back to them - eloquent expressions of the enormous depth and variety, but also the universality, of women's experiences throughout the world. The boxes were accompanied by equally astonishing artists' statements, in the form of letters, poems and stories asking about transcending barriers: geographical, social, racial, economic, emotional, gender-related, spiritual, etc.
For the upcoming Rubicon premiere, company members have created a play in which the journey of the organization is interwoven with excerpts from many of the artist's statements. Says Rubicon Artistic Director Karyl Lynn Burns, "We hope the play will provide serious and humorous insights into relationships between grandmothers, mothers and daughters, sisters, and friends; birth and the process of raising children; how women view their bodies; oppression and war; fairy tales, dreams and myths; and even our obsession with shoes.
Presented in the style of Love, Loss and What I Wore and The Vagina Monologues, Rubicon's production of WOMEN BEYOND BORDERS features a rotating cast of five actors of different ages and backgrounds who will read the script from seated positions on high-backed stools. Actors scheduled to date include Tony Award-winner Lillias White (The Life/Fela on Broadway, the title role in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom at the Music Center, and the premiere of The Best is Yet to Come at Rubicon which then transferred Off-Broadway), Emmy Award-winners Susan Clark ("Babe," "Webster"/ Rubicon's Collected Stories) and Michael Learned ("The Waltons," "Nurse," Rubicon's Driving Miss Daisy),
Golden Globe Award-winner Amanda McBroom (Rubicon's Other Desert Cities/Creator of "The Rose"), and five-time Emmy nominee Meredith Baxter ("Family" and "Family Ties"). Other announced artists are as follows: Kimiko Gelman ("The Hunger Games I & 2"/"CSI Miami"); Donna Simone Johnson (Noe: Element, Ugandan National Theatre/The Baby Dance: Mixed at Rubicon); actor, writer and radio personality Sandra Tsing Loh; Obie Award-winner Zilah Mendoza (premiere of Lisa Loomer's Living Out, also originated lead roles in The Clean House and Electricidad, among others). Ulka Simone Mohanty ("Needle in a Timestack,"/"Nina's World"); UCLA graduate and newcomer Joanne Nguyen in her Equity stage debut; and Jennifer Leigh Warren (Big River on Broadway/Rubicon's Lonesome Traveler Off-Broadway). Additional cast members will be announced next week.
The production of WOMEN BEYOND BORDERS is helmed by Rubicon Artistic Associate Jenny Sullivan, and written by Claire Bowman, Karyl Lynn Burns, Lauren Patten and Beverly Ward, with additional stories by Stephanie Coltrin and Sandra Tsing Loh. The production includes extensive use of video projection (including a number of the boxes). The multi-media is co-created by Yee Eun Nam and Eunnym Cho, who are also co-creating the scenic design. The international, all-female design team also includes Azra King-Abadi as Lighting Designer.
WOMEN BEYOND BORDERS opens Saturday, April 27 at 7:00 p.m., and continues through June 2, 2019. Low-priced tickets for previews are available Thursday, April 24 through Friday, April 26. The production continues Wednesdays through Sundays through May 12 (with two shows on Wednesdays and Saturdays), and Fridays through Sundays (with doubles on Saturday) from May 16 to June 2, 2019. All performances are at Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 E. Main Street, Ventura, CA 93001. For tickets, go to www.rubicontheatre.org or call (805) 667-2900.
Photo Credit: Jeanne Tanner