The female presence in the War on Terror is — if you’ll forgive me — surging. Salon recently reported that women now make up 15 percent of active-duty forces. Yet there have been few public female faces to the anti-war movement, and we have just lost our most definitive, mother-for-peace Cindy Sheehan. Feminist perspectives on the war are not a regular part of the public debate. So it’s exciting to report that our acclaimed local voice of feminist activism, playwright and performer Carolyn Gage, is mounting a double-header of her own theatrical critique. Two Evenings of Women’s Anti-War Plays, presented on June 29 and 30 at the St. Lawrence, will show a woman’s take on American culture’s tendencies to violence.
First on the evening’s bill is Gage’s drama The Rules of the Playground, in which six mothers — played by Stephanie Hughes, Valerie Jones, Andrea-Myles-Hunkin, Jackie Oliveri, Elizabeth Phipps, and Denise Poirer — gather in a classroom to be briefed on the vicissitudes of playground violence. In the process, they demonstrate a disturbing phenomenon: how women collude with men, either advertently or inadvertently, to enable violent behavior.
The second production is an internationally acclaimed one-woman show that will feature Gage herself as a famous martyr, in The Second Coming of Joan of Arc. Portrayed as a lesbian, Joan returns from the dead to speak her mind about all she went through with war, patriarchy, and religion. This play has been featured on NPR, awarded an Oregon Book Award, and performed around the world. Gage’s impetus in producing both Joan and Rules is to propose anti-war perspectives that are fresh, jarring, and “outside the ‘war is bad’ box.”
Also on exhibit at the St. Lawrence, during both evenings, will be art by local cartoonist and activist Katie Diamond. Get your advance tickets ($15) at Bull Moose or online at www.stlawrencearts.org, or call 207.775.5568.