Written and Directed by Tara Brooke Watkins
Produced by Eastern Nazarene College
Part of the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival
Off Off Broadway, Play
Runs through 8.24.16
VENUE #15: SoHo Playhouse, 15 Vandam Street
by Catherine Luckenbach on 8.17.16
Standing: Kayla Kish, Allison Tucker, Athena Horton. On floor: Becky Malas, Leahnora Anderson, Sherryl Shively, Hillary Sunberg-Detwiler, Kelsie Griffes, Juanita Cox, Lisabeth Almeida, Danielle Bacon, Micah Hobson, and Amber Ervin
in The Bible Women's Project. Photo by Tara Brooke Watkins.
BOTTOM LINE: The Bible Women’s Project gives a new, outspoken voice to the women of the Bible, and explores how those women give meaning to those living today.
At Eastern Nazarene College, a group of ladies sat down to ask questions about women in the Bible. The Bible Women’s Project is their answer. This piece tells the stories of the women in the Bible along with telling the stories of the women on stage. Some of the topics are hard to swallow and other topics are hilarious, but the entire show has a powerful message.
The performance begins with the cast playing themselves while talking about different women from the Bible. Some of the lessons are inspirational, and others are confusing and shameful. Each account is told in a new format. For example, the tale of Sarai and Hagar is told through a Jerry Springer-type talk show, while Ester and Vashti’s struggle is presented as a beauty pageant, and Jephthah’s daughter’s life is portrayed through powerful spoken word poetry.
The cast goes through sixteen Bible lessons in the first act alone, all while including incredibly personal anecdotes from the cast. They compose mini musicals, play theatre games, and create support groups in order to portray the lives of Bible women. At almost three hours, the show is on the long side; clearly, it was crucial for the cast to represent as many of the untold stories as possible. The cast is so committed to these women that they even include a “Pokémon-style rap” in order to include every single female in the Bible.
The Bible Women’s Project certainly provides a new perspective to the unspoken heroines of the Bible. Many religions, Christianity included, focus on men, and the importance of women is pushed into the background. In response, The Bible Women’s Project shines a spotlight on the power and strength of women. The twelve diverse and dynamic actresses on stage bring life to tales that are often forgotten or shoved away. The cast breaks the fourth wall to remind the audience of the “safe space” that has been created in the theatre—a space where we are all encouraged to shed our preconceived ideas about religion.
(The Bible Women's Project plays at VENUE #15: SoHo Playhouse, 15 Vandam Street, through August 24, 2016. The running time is 2 hours 45 minutes with an intermission. Performances are Fri 8/12 at 9; Mon 8/15 at 3:30; Wed 8/17 at 8:30; Sat 8/20 at 12:15; and Wed 8/24 at 2. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $18 and are available at fringenyc.org. For more information visit enc.edu/bwp.)
The Bible Women’s Project is written and directed by Tara Brooke Watkins. Stage Manager is Sarah Kifer. Music from Jamie Brown and Sarah Troxler. Graphic Design is by Susan Ramey.
The cast is Kayla Rearick Kish, Frankie Bruny, Shelly Greaves, Michelle Orellana, Michaelin Thomas, Becky Malas, Hillary Sunberg-Detwiler, Roodlyne Altidor, Raijene Murchison, Emily Holecy, Allison Nicole Tucker, Kayla Peterson.