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Wanted: stories of Midwestern women

By |2018-01-16T11:38:28-05:00September 27th, 2007|Entertainment|

An original production under development for this coming spring by the Williamston Theatre will tell stories by and of women in the Midwest, but there’s one important ingredient that’s needed before the project can come to fruition: your stories.
“There’s a whole bunch of people in this part of the world who are often not given a chance to have their voices heard,” explained Williamston Theatre’s artistic director Tony Caselli. “And this project will get these people heard.”
“Maidens, Mothers and Crones” is the first of three annual productions designed to explore life in – and the people of – America’s Midwest. “So we came up with the idea of doing ‘Voices of the Midwest,” with the first one focusing on women in the 21st century, and what life is like for them,” Caselli said. “Then, in 2009, we’ll do a similar thing exploring the lives of men, and in 2010 we’ll create a play all about family life – and all the different things that that means.”
The initial production is a collaborative effort by Caselli, director Suzi Regan and playwright Annie Martin, whose new comedy “Flap” was the final production of Williamston’s recently concluded inaugural season. Although the series meets a goal established for the theater through its mission statement – to create moving, entertaining, professional theater for and about this part of the world – its development also fills a thematic void that exists throughout the greater theater community. “The Midwest gets overlooked a lot of times. We’re the ‘fly-over’ part of the country, and that annoys me to no end, because there’s a huge, rich world here that we want to share,” Caselli said.
And he hopes that women will want to share their stories, as well. So thanks to a survey that’s now available online, women of all ages and backgrounds have an opportunity to share their stories, thoughts, poems and songs about life here in Middle America. “It’s a fun survey,” Caselli said. “It has eight open-ended questions that are designed to get people thinking about themselves, their lives and their experiences growing up.”
One asks, “What will your legacy be? What would you LIKE it to be?” Another asks the respondent to talk about her hair. “I don’t remember which came up with that one, Suzy or Annie, but for them, from their experiences being women and knowing women, that launches a whole range of discussion – from ‘my hair is brown’ to stories about how it was treated while they were little girls.”
Once Caselli, Regan and Martin sort through the surveys, the three will begin shaping the show. “We’re looking at it more as a theatrical evening than a play,” Caselli said. “So what we’re expecting to create is an evening of theater that’s full of dialogue and songs, storytelling and poetry – and dealing directly with the audience in sort of a collage/pastiche format.”
Participation is not limited to Michigan women, as theaters, women’s groups and others in nearby Midwestern states have been solicited to distribute the survey. And completed surveys are already trickling in to the theater. “We were afraid no one was going to fill it out,” Caselli laughed. “And then we started getting feedback from people who loved the idea.”
It’s an exciting project, the artistic director concluded. “It gives people a chance to look at the world around them a little differently.”

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