feminism

A Fiery, Absurdist “Chamber Music” Now Playing at St. John’s

Members of the “Chamber Music” cast at St. John’s

“The chair recognizes Joan of Arc.”

It’s hard not to recognize her, in the theatrical sense — like the Joans we’ve seen, this one’s armor-clad, cross-bearing, and all-powerful. But is this Joan? Well, of course not; it’s merely a depiction.

But is the performer (a marvelously focused Bre Northrup) playing Joan, or a character who believes they are Joan? This is one of the central questions in Arthur Kopit’s Chamber Music, now playing through September 16 in the basement of St. John’s Lutheran Church (155 Milton Street).

Director Emily Moler makes dynamic use of her staging Kopit’s absurdist play, setting it in the round and utilizing the subterranean locale’s low-budget though ample space. In fact a church basement may be the unlikely, appropriate setting for Chamber Music: the play actually takes place in a mental institution, so a church (with its rigid mores) lends itself winningly to this story’s strict asylum. The “Joan of Arc” and other lady icons, from Osa Johnson to Pearl White, inhabit this jail, and their meeting of the minds feels echoed in the opening of Top Girls, Caryl Churchill’s feminist anthem. Continue reading

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Madame Gandhi Dropping Electronic Drum Beats for Oxfam Jam at Knitting Factory Monday, March 7

Madame Gandhi LPR
C/O Sonya Patel. Kiran Gandhi and Alexia Riner of Madame Gandhi, two of the electronic drums and vocals trio.

Lights blaze and flash. Smoke rises. “We are Madame Gandhi and we need your attention for the next half hour so we can calm your mind.” Kiran Gandhi’s District Drum Company light-up drum pulses as she and Alexia Riner deliver a kinetic and elevating performance during Madame Gandhi’s debut at (le) Poisson Rouge (LPR) last Tuesday night.

Madame Gandhi is the LA-based “electronic drums and vocals project that celebrates female leadership and explores themes of feminism, gender equality and liberation.” It is the project of MIA drummer, feminist activist, and Harvard Business School grad, Kiran Gandhi. She confidently moves back and forth across the stage, dancing, shaking her body to the beat, either one she has created herself through beatboxing and looping or that has been triggered by Alexia on her Ableton Push. It is catalyzing to watch and listen.

Over the last week, Gandhi has played for Sofar Sounds and at Tom Tom Magazine’s Oral History of Female Drummers event at the Brooklyn Museum, where she also spoke. Tonight, Monday, March 7, Madame Gandhi performs at the Knitting Factory (361 Metropolitan Avenue) at 7:30pm ($10 advance / $12 doors) as part of the “third annual Oxfam Jam Benefit Concert raising funds to support Oxfam America’s mission for creating solutions to poverty, hunger, and injustice.” This performance will include Madame Gandhi’s third member, DJ Ayes Cold (Ayesha Chugh).

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Sometimes It’s Hard to be a Woman // Heather Marie Scholl on Fashion, Feminism & Domestic Violence

© Heather Marie Scholl

“A woman is not a potted plant
her roots bound
to the confines
of her house…”

“A Woman Is Not A Potted Plant” by Alice Walker

We all have stories. What does it mean to be a woman? Sometimes it’s beautiful, engaging, and wondrous. Sometimes it’s violent, traumatic, and oppressive. Hobby Lobby wants to rule out birth control. A young woman was stabbed for eschewing a prom date because she already had a boyfriend. #yestoallwomen surges through social media after a tragedy where women — and men, too — were brutally murdered because of oppressive thoughts brought down on women. Heather Marie Scholl conjures a poignant and powerful commentary on what it means to be a woman by sharing stories.

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Permanent Wave 2012 Music Festival This Weekend!!!

Last night I was really excited to meet a dynamic duo, Kiri and Heidi, who are leaders of a huge network of pro-feminist musicians, artists and activists called Permanent Wave. Earlier this year I attended a show booked by these gals at Death By Audio, a DIY all ages venue in Williamsburg. The show was a benefit for Right Rides, which offers women and LGBTQ individuals a free, safe, late night ride home on weekends. Talented local bands fronted by lady musicians jammed in the packed space with an upbeat and positive crowd.

It’s all about collaboration. According to their mission statement, Permanent Wave seeks “to challenge gender inequality as it manifests itself in art, politics, and our personal lives” with the belief that, “women should see each other as collaborators and inspirations, not rivals.” Right on, ladies! This plays itself out when booking as an organization, explained Kiri, rather than just trying to book your own band at a venue. Strength in numbers. Continue reading

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