By Sally Deering
“I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint – and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you.” – Oprah Winfrey.
Oprah epitomizes the achievements one woman can make after facing extreme personal and professional challenges; and here in Hudson, many women follow in Oprah’s successful footsteps.
March is Women’s History Month, and to celebrate, the Hudson County Office of Cultural Affairs and Art House Productions in Jersey City are planning two events that pay tribute to women and their achievements.
The National Women’s History Project celebrates its 35th anniversary with WEAVING THE STORIES OF WOMEN’S LIVES, a theme taken on locally by the Hudson County Executive Thomas A. DeGise, the Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Office of Cultural Affairs.
On Wed, Mar. 25 at 6 pm, DeGise and Committee Chairwoman and Freeholder Caridad Rodriguez will honor local women making a difference in their communities in an awards ceremony at the majestic Theodore Conrad Rotunda on the first floor of the Justice William Brennan Court House in Jersey City.
That same week, on Thurs, Sat and Sun, Mar. 26, 28 and 29, Art House Productions and 68 Productions in Jersey City team up for IN FULL COLOR, A Night of Theater Celebrating Women’s History Month with monologues, poetry and music by 13 writers and actresses who offer a glimpse into their lives as women of color. A portion of ticket proceeds will be donated to the local non-profit WomenRising.
“This night of theater will show people there is this whole spectrum of talented actresses and writers who have hilarious, witty, touching, and inspiring things to say and who are really good at saying them,” director Summer Dawn Hortillosa says.
Hortillosa and Liliane Wolf founded the non-profit theater company 68 Productions to produce works by and for ethnically diverse people. Art House Productions, also a non-profit in Jersey City is committed to the development and presentation of performing and visual arts programs in Jersey City, and presents original theater, music events, visual arts, experimental performance, classes, video/new media and the quarterly citywide arts festival, JC Fridays.
WOMEN OF COLOR SHARE A PEEK INTO THEIR LIVES
IN FULL COLOR presents 13 women of color sharing their stories like dealing with curly hair; men with “yellow fever”; and being mistaken for a terrorist. Writers and actors include Jennifer Cendaña Armas, Karen Eilbacher, Samille Ganges (reading a piece by Alicia Wright), Inés García, Yvonne Hernandez, Amanda Levie, Nicole Miranda (reading a piece by Grisel Acosta), wendelin, Nerissa Tutiven, Shirin Terhune Vazir and Hortillosa, the show’s director.
“Summer Dawn Hortillosa has curated a vibrant evening of stories from women we are proud to celebrate,” Art House Productions’ Executive Director Christine Goodman says. “IN FULL COLOR gives voice to women of diverse backgrounds and covers topics from the hilarious to the inspiring.”
A sampling from the show includes Shirin Terhune Vazir of Jersey City’s APPLE PIE & BAKLAVA; Samille Ganges’ performance of Alicia Wright’s piece MY CURLY HAIR – Wright is a founding member of Art House Productions’ Board of Trustees. Yvonne Hernandez of Newark, who recently performed her one-woman show on romance at Symphony Hall in New York City will perform an excerpt from her piece, MY PUERTO RICAN MOTHER.
“My mother was a comedian who didn’t know it,” Hernandez says. “It’s a tribute to her as a Puerto Rican woman who came here at the age of 18 and went through a lot. She had four children and she raised her children on her own because she was a widow. Everything she had to go through, people will get a glimpse into that. Shows like this are a good way for women to get their stories out.”
Inés Garcia’s THE INTERVIEW and THE EXCEPTION by Hortillosa are also on the program with THAT MORNING by wendelin; HARDCORE LATINA PUNK BIRTH FRAGMENTS by Grisel Y. Acosta, performed by Nicole Miranda; and UNTITLED by Amanda Levie of Jersey City who is founder of No Peeking LLC, a blind live arts company.
Actress and director Karen Eilbacher of Brooklyn who holds a BFA with honors from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, will perform her piece HOWLS. Eilbacher’s credits include the Academy Award winning short film CURFEW where she was a dancer in a bowling alley. Eilbacher, whose piece HOWLS is about the changing relationship between a young woman and her ailing grandmother, says events like IN FULL COLOR, and the audience feedback they provide can be helpful to her as a writer.
“This show will help me get my work out there and give me the chance to see how people react to it,” Eilbacher says. “It could also help me find new avenues for my full-length script.”
Seeing performances by these women may inspire projects and opportunities for these women, Hortillosa says, both in New York and here in Jersey City.
“We’re in the most diverse city in America,” Hortillosa says. “I think it’s really important for people to understand the people of other cultures around them. Cultures exist in different shades. I hope this show encourages tolerance, understanding and interest.”
CELEBRATING HUDSON WOMEN
2015 marks the 35th anniversary of the National Women’s History Project and Hudson County’s tribute on Wed, March 25th, WEAVING THE STORIES OF WOMEN’S LIVES, follows the national model. Previous themes were Celebrating Women of Character, Courage and Commitment in 2014; Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in 2013; and women’s Art, Women’s Vision in 2008.
“We will be honoring women from Hudson County, in a variety of categories, whose courage, strength and spirit in their respective fields and endeavors are special,” Cultural Affairs’ Program Development Specialist Meredith Lippman says.
Lippman, along with William La Rosa, Administrator for the Hudson County Cultural & Heritage Affairs/Tourism department and the rest of the cultural affairs staff curate and sponsor the annual event along with the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders and Hudson County Executive Thomas A. DeGise.
“This event is a celebration of the outstanding achievements of women in our community,” County Executive DeGise says. “We are honored to have the opportunity each year to tell their stories, each one of them a vital thread within the tapestry of our shared local history.”
The women to be honored at the Mar. 25th tribute all have a sense of commitment to community, Lippman says. (At press time, the honorees were still to be confirmed. Go to www.riverviewobserver.net for the complete list.)
At the ceremony, DeGise and Chairwoman Rodriguez will give out medals and certificates to the honorees. There will also be performances by vocalists from St. Dominic Academy’s choir and a poetry reading by Alia Oliver, a winner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts’ Poetry-Out-Loud contest.
“We want to support our younger women,” Lippman says.
If you go:
Wed, Mar. 25, 6 pm
WEAVING THE STORIES OF WOMEN’S LIVES
Hudson County’s Tribute to Women in the Arts
Justice William Brennan Court House/Theodore Conrad Rotunda
583 Newark Ave, JC
For more info: (201) 459-2070
Thurs, and Sat, Mar. 26, 28 at 8 pm; Sun, Mar. 29 at 3 p.m.
IN FULL COLOR: A Night of Theater Celebrating Women’s History Month
Art House Productions
136 Magnolia, JC
Tix: $8 in advance at www.InFullColor.brownpapertickets.com; $10 at the door.
For more info: www.arthouseproductions.org, or www.summerization.com.