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Celebrating the members of the League of Professional Theatre Women

Archive for the tag “Margaret Edson”

Lorca Peress

Lorca Peress, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenTheatre Director, Artistic Director, Producer
New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration?
I am inspired by everything around us.  As an artist (visual as well as theatre), I believe in merging disciplines to create exciting new works. The work that inspires me is a fusion of art forms ranging from the language of a play or poem to the visual and stylized physical elements we create in collaboration. I am stimulated by vision and transformation, the unknown, the unexpected. Ideas abound, and art emerges. As a woman of mixed cultures, I have always been drawn to the stories and perceptions of others. I seek out new voices and worlds to bring to the stage, and aim to challenge the audience and the artists involved. I founded MultiStages as a means to explore this work.

What play or production changed your life?
I was introduced to theatre, music and literature through my family: my grandmother was a performer, mother is a poet, and my father is a music conductor.  As a child, I was onstage in various operas. I watched my father conduct Bernstein’s MASS at the Kennedy Center, and Candide with Madeline Kahn; both productions changed my life. There have been many straight plays that have inspired me. One that stands out is Athol Fugard’s Sizwe Bansi Is Dead, which I saw in London as a girl. I found Margaret Edson’s W;t (WIT) riveting with the amazing Kathleen Chalfant, who I was fortunate to direct a few years ago for the LPTW New Play Festival. Both these plays brought nudity onto the stage that was human and visceral. Angels in America also made a huge impact on me, as did Jane Wagner’s Search for Intelligent Signs of Life… with Lily Tomlin, and led me to create my own one-woman show, Women Under Glass.

What is your best escape?
The NY Times crossword puzzles.

Lorca Peress is Co-President of LPTW and MultiStages Founder/Artistic Director, where she has developed multicultural and multidisciplinary new works since 1997. Awards: La MaMa Inky, MCAF (LMCC DOCA), Dramatists Guild Fund, et al. Bennington College and NTI graduate; Teacher at NYU Strasberg Studio and Strasberg Institute. AFTRA, SAG, AEA, SDC. www.eljallartsannex.com/multistages.htm

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Mũmbi Kaigwa

Mumbi Kaigwa, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenActor, writer and theatre producer
Nairobi, KENYA

LPTW’s 30th anniversary coincides with my 50th (in April). The received wisdom is that women don’t reveal their age, but in my part of the world, I once read a statistic that said on average, woman here don’t live past 40, so for me, it is something to celebrate. In times gone by, it was also a source of pride to grow older, as you could pass on your wisdom to a younger generation. I try to do this through the work I choose.

Eleven years ago I began on this journey of full-time acting, followed some years later with writing, producing and more recently directing, mostly because I wanted my work to be more relevant to my environment. Even when I produce or perform the published works of others, it’s important to me that my audience can find themselves in the work and that the production asks meaningful questions.

I began to write in 2001, and though I didn’t know it then the question I was interested in showed up in all my plays, which have become a trilogy of musical performances (in the sense that they include live performances of traditional African music), with dance and narration. The three “plays” deal with dreams and what happens when a dream is deferred, and more importantly what happens when you allow your dream to take shape within this lifetime; the fear and the elation.

I’m celebrating my half centenary with a revival of some of my favourites. Beginning in November 2011 with Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden, the season includes some Alan Bennett, some short plays from the Humana Festival, some Margaret Edson, some Ntozake Shange. All this is subject to getting the rights, of course. The year will end with the third play in the trilogy mentioned above, They Call Me Wanjikũ, a semi-autobiographical journey.

I join my fellow family members in the LPTW in celebrating 30 years of increased visibility and opportunities for women in theatre. Mubarikiwe (Blessings).

Born in Kenya, Mũmbi Kaigwa began acting at age 10, appearing in school productions and on local television with her uncle. Theatre remained a close companion all through high school and college. In 1999, Mũmbi left her “proper” job with the United Nations to devote her life to performance. http://theartscanvas.com

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