New Play Aims To Transform Stigmas Around Menstruation

Lady M, an ensemble-devised show inspired by the witches and powerful women of Shakespeare's Macbeth and based on interviews with DC residents about menstruation, will start previews on July 9 at Joe's Movement Emporium in Mt. Rainier, MD. The penultimate production of the second generation of The Welders playwrights' collective will feature the collective creative prowess of Rachel Hynes, Anastasia Wilson, Francesca Chilcote, Vanita Kalra, Claudia Rosales-Waters and Deidre Staples. LadyM gives space to Rachel Hynes' vision of aesthetically excellent collaborative creation with real social impact.

Rachel Hynes and her devising collaborators Francesca Chilcote, Anastasia Wilson, and Vanita Kalra have been developing the production for two years. With the help of a grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities they were able to interview more than 300 menstruators. "We saw themes of silence, shame, isolation and lack of knowledge-sharing," reflects Rachel, "We wanted LadyM to reflect what we saw and heard, but also wanted to transform the silence, stigma and lack of knowledge-sharing into open conversation and education."

The learning, listening, and educating has shaped every element of the process. Over the last year, The Welders developed partnerships with a variety of local communities to have "Period Circles." These informal meet-ups were knowledge-sharing, community conversations on the theme of menstruation from physical, spiritual, emotional and political perspectives. Conversations ranged from talks with peri-menopausal women about dealing with explosive periods; meetings with DC Diaper Bank about period poverty and increasing access to menstrual products and; virtual meetings about societal shame with menstrual scholar, Rosanna Stevens. "'When we talk about periods," says Stevens, "we're really talking about being healthy, confident, connected, and educated."

As reproductive rights are put on the line nationally it is time to speak loudly about the role that menstrual stigma plays in our lives, beyond the bathroom. LadyM is part incantation, part mystery, and part interactive comedy show. The poetic and absurdist lives of women and menstruators are pitted against the Shakespearean themes of of ambition, sorcery as power, and violence.

LadyM moves through three acts, starting with a gallery of silent performances, moving into a transformative, spell-casting, absurdist comedy and ends with a participatory pop-up market that allows audience members to experience, educate, and actively choose their own path towards a new relationship with menstruation.

The play invites all audiences to explore the deep, dark, and bloody history of stigmatized bodies in society through the lens of grotesque comedy. Accessible for menstruators and non-menstruators alike, audiences will have a chance to re-contextualize how we relate to blood, bodies, and our community.


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