“The more you know of your history, the more liberated you are.” cited Poet-Laurette, Maya Angelou.
These words rung in the ears of Melissa Mowry and Jessica Fichter as they shepherded an original piece of theater. It’s more than that. It is a derived play. A new and exciting form of art that visionary companies are now creating.
If Women Rose Rooted, a new organic ensemble-created piece about the wisdom of women as old as time and as fresh as today. If Women Rose Rooted is set in both modern day and the “Otherworld (a mythical land of the fairy folk), this piece explores femininity and culture through the shared wisdom ancestors and our experiences today. Drawn from mythology and folklore, If Women Rose Rooted delves into the power and pain of femininity and reminds us all of those powerful women who came before us. What looks like a fantasy is a veiled parable of the true dawning of the Age of Aquarius.
The powerful all woman artistic ensemble behind the creation of this piece shared some of what it took to bring this emerging art-form to life.
Lucy Lewis gave us a most inspiring definition of a devised play, “A devised play is different because it is a complete collaboration and the traditional hierarchy is gone. It is a collection of every artist’s story and how we can all share a message through less narrative ways. The beauty of devising is that you just need to be open and ready to work. Everyone has a story to tell and devising is a great outlet as well as unifying force.”
She continued by praising her team, “I feel very connected to the cast. We all are working very hard to bring some peace of mind to the world as it can constantly feel overwhelming. It’s really nice to work with a group of women all on the same mission of collaborating and supporting.”
Marcella Adams agreed, “… the connection is on a deeper level. The piece, the production, the character speaks to me more on a spiritual level. This isn’t to say that other roles or productions have not, but this piece in particular is more of a birthright. It’s one of those roles/productions that come to you during a very specific time in your life and culminates all of your life experiences thus far and all of your creative projects thus far. I’ve personally have been on a life changing spiritual journey and this role/production has allowed me to marry my personal life, artistic life, AND spiritual life in a way that I never have before.
This gelled well with her personal philosophy, “I believe that, in today’s society, no one can stand on the sidelines anymore and blindly create art solely for escapism or create something that is not bigger than you as an artist. Art is the highest form of expression and should be very much used to express what you can’t. I am aiming to be a people’s artist and give a voice to those who feel like they can’t speak and occupy spaces they feel like they don’t belong.”
Titania Galliher began by giving us a suggested criteria for a devised play, “being able to improvise is important because none of the text is there to memorize at the beginning. And being open-minded helps– having one’s own opinions, of course!– but being flexible and available to listening and collaborating and trying someone else’s idea is essential.”
She then shared the most powerful difference between a devised work and a customary play, “The main difference is I don’t have existing text to work from to learn more about the character, their way of speaking, the beats. That has to happen almost entirely in rehearsal.”
Finally, Jessica Panora expressed the same exuberance for the play and her director, “A derived play for me is freedom, freedom to move, speak, act in a way that can mean something different for every person in the audience and that where I think it holds such power. I truly felt [this play] was God sent because I was being given the opportunity to be part of an incredible all female cast with a director who gave us every space to create our own work and every freedom to express ourselves openly. The space that [Melissa Mowry] created was uplifting, genuine, powerful and unapologetic. She created a welcoming process that allowed me to simultaneously learn and create from a variety of movement exercises, activities, various forms of text etc. This production both then and now has been far more than a play process, it’s been an empowerment of body, mind, and soul, as a woman and a continuous discovery of the journey that has made women the trailblazers we are today.”
She also looks at this experience as a way to connect with her culture as well, “I grew up seeing such a powerful representation of my Hispanic culture in the media and entertainment outlets that were presented to me (all Latino). As I got older, it was a pretty bizarre discovery to find that the same did not translate in the American market when I began to watch American television and film. This experience planted a seed of courage for me to become an artist who wears her culture with great pride, who seeks work that represents the Latino community…”
Marcella concluded by saying whatever her next moves are … “I will always carry my goddess with me.”
Directed by Melissa Mowry, assisted by Jessica Fichter, the women’s ensemble includes Marcella Adams, Titania Galliher, Jessica Panora, and Lucy Lewis. The special limited run will be Friday, September 6 @ 7pm; September 7 @ 3 and 7 pm; and Sunday, September 8 @ 3 and 7 pm at the cutting-edge arts incubator, The Tank, 312 W 36th Street, in New York. For More information, visit https://www.thetanknyc.org/calendar-1/2019/9/6/if-women-rose-rooted