Beyond Broadway

Calling All Feminists: 6 Reasons To Step Inside The Theater Of Gloria Steinem’s Mind

12.21.18

BY: JULIET MAZER-SCHMIDT

Bingeing Michelle Obama’s Becoming and Mrs. Maisel’s marvelous new season, ready to take on 2019?

Gloria: A Life beams like a feminist Bat Signal off Union Square, putting out the call to anyone looking to challenge the status quo – and see a stimulating show. Featuring chapters from Steinem’s storied life, there’s a new kind of magic emerging from the Daryl Roth Theatre each night – yours. (Read all the way to the bottom to access our special Holiday offer… or just click here!)

 

Photo by Juliet Mazer-Schmidt

1. Gloria Steinem remains a role model and a resource – one you may not know as well as you think.

A writer with a curious mind, Steinem found the spotlight by circumstance. By her own admission, she overcame palpable public speaking fears to amplify her activism, hiding behind big hair and aviator sunglasses. These days, audiences learn of Steinem less so from her speeches and books, more often from a Drunk History segment on Comedy Central, or a clever line in the musical adaptation of Legally Blonde – references that zero in on the more salacious highlights. (Not everyone’s lucky to have a college professor send them home with Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem.)

In Gloria: A Life, Academy Award-winner Christine Lahti recreates – and clarifies – some of history’s most famous Steinem-centered anecdotes, braided into a collection of her lesser-known moments lived outside the media. Get to know the girl who grew-up on the road, entered her first classroom after age 10, became primary caregiver to her mother at age 11 – and, when alone, tap dances in elevators.

Steinem and longtime speaking partner Dorothy Pitman-Hughes / Photos by Dan Wynn.

2. No matter how you identify, Gloria IS for you.

Even in 2018, feminism continues to be controversial in some circles. The core of the feminist movement is simply equality – it benefits men, freeing them up to pursue a broader range of experiences and opportunities. In Steinem’s own words: “Feminism starts out being very simple: it starts out being the instinct of a little child who says, ‘It’s not fair. And you are not the boss of me.’ There’s something in us that knows that, right? And it ends up being a worldview that questions hierarchy altogether.” In an aspirational moment, Steinem remarked, “it shouldn’t need a name. And one day it won’t.” We are ALL born feminists – and that’s a good thing.

3. Steinem’s contemporaries are a real-world Justice League worth knowing.

Bella Abzug, Florynce Kennedy, Wilma Mankiller: but a sample of the wonder-women walking the same path as Steinem, dedicating their lives to help ladies of all colors and classes tap into their power. Abzug was a Congresswoman in the 1970s, one of the first defenders of gay rights, and mastermind behind the 1977 National Women’s Conference – (she’s also a cited heroine of Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope). Flo Kennedy fought her way into Columbia Law School back in the late-40s and dedicated her life and career to feminism and bold civil rights activism: nothing seemed to intimidate Kennedy, who took on giants like Coca-Cola and Harvard – once organizing a mass urination on Harvard’s campus to protest a lack of female bathrooms. Mankiller was the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, in addition to working as a social worker, economic stimulus coordinator, and fundraiser. Worthy of a civil rights-based superhero series, their legacies find new life on-stage in Gloria.

4. When it comes to organizing a successful movement, Gloria Steinem and her crew are tried-and-true OGs: Original Girlbosses

1977 National Women’s Conference / Photo by Jo Freeman

Millennials can be forgiven for missing the 1977 National Women’s Conference; they weren’t alive. But the lessons learned through that conference continue to be invaluable in today’s political climate – and Gloria provides an avenue to download the highlights in a succinct, entertaining way. The two years of travel and caucuses that led to the Conference solidified Steinem’s belief in talking circles – a format recreated in the Daryl Roth Theatre for the play.

Photo by Juliet Mazer-Schmidt

5. Experience a Steinem-style talking circle in-action.

The play itself is a one-act, followed by a brief (20-minute) talking circle: this is not your typical theatre-talkback – and there is ZERO pressure to participate. Based on the format Steinem swore by in her own investigative life, moderated by the cast, and led by a special guest (including names like Christine Amanpour, Lena Dunham – even Steinem herself!), audience members are invited to share everything from personal stories to podcast recommendations. While no two second-acts are the same, each offers an opportunity to connect, screen-free, eye-contact included.

Repeating for emphasis: ZERO pressure to speak, ZERO pressure if you do (recall Steinem herself struggled with public speaking). The information shared is worth a listen: from this writer’s show (led brilliantly by Lahti’s understudy, Liz Wisan), special guest John Feinblatt of Everytown for Gun Safety shared words (on the six-year anniversary of Sandy Hook), which evolved into audience members sharing their own stories about Steinem, a plug for podcast Hysteria, and an opportunity to volunteer with aspiring young female leaders at The Bella Abzug Leadership Academy.

Diane Paulus / Photo by Susan Lapides

6. Gloria Director Diane Paulus is a name You Oughta Know.

An activist in her own right, Paulus spent the year, pre-Gloria, developing new works alongside badass ladies including Claudia Rankine (The White Card) and Alanis Morrisette (Jagged Little Pill). The Artistic Director of the American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T.) at Harvard, Paulus made the 2014 TIME100: TIME Magazine’s annual assemblage of the 100 most influential people in the world. Paulus’s creative mind and Steinem’s story are a natural combination: there is no better captain for this circle.

Gloria: A Life / Photo by Joan Marcus

Ready to ignite – right here, right now?

Gloria reminds that the future is female…but so was the past. We’ve been here before, and women like Steinem helped move the needle, slowly but surely, in the direction of equality. If you’re a Steinem expert already, consider sending someone who could benefit from the education and experience through Hope-Aholics, a tax-deductible donation-based program to send students to the show ($30 per student ticket, but any donation amount welcome).

Gloria: A Life plays through March 31: join the conversation – every voice is welcome.

Juliet Mazer-Schmidt is a Detroit-born performer, turned DC-based litigator, turned Chicago-based theatre developer – turned NYC-based all-of-the-above… and in case it’s not obvious, she is also a writer (who, like Steinem, dances in elevators – albeit usually ballet).


To access our special Holiday offer for Gloria: A Life, follow this link (or click on the photo below!) and type in the code: GLP65

This offer is valid on performances from 12/01/18-02/10/19. Blackout dates may apply. Not valid in combination with any other discounts or other offers or previously purchased tickets. Internet orders are subject to standard services fees. Offer subject to change at any time. All sales final. No refunds or exchanges. Other restrictions may apply.