Compared to men, women have a different type of truth to tell, according to Pam Burris, a member of the less than year-old sheworXX. Women pay attention to different things. But women's voices have been suppressed for so long that getting to the point where those voices can be heard requires some hard work in an environment different from the typical one.
"That's what we were looking for. A group committed to giving visibility and support for women developing plays. We wanted an opportunity to present our work in an environment where we could have our voice and be heard."
The "we" she refers to is about 20 women in Tucson who are serious about writing plays. They all resonate with Burris' statement, and so they began to speak with each other about how to get what they needed. The result is sheworXX.
The second showcase of the group, "Gnawing the Bone" will be presented next weekend. It's a group show featuring seven short plays presented in seven different locations spread throughout the YWCA campus, where the group has found a home. The 10-minute plays incorporate themes found in fairy tales, folk tales and myths.
The audience will be divided into small groups and they will rotate between the seven plays.
"It's a different way for audience and actors to meet each other, creating a different relationship." The audience will feel like they discover each show, she says.
There is not an obvious relationship between the plays, she says. "It's not variations of Cinderella in seven ways. But the title, 'Gnawing the Bone,' indicates these plays are fairy tales with adult content."
They explore the darker, more serious side of life.
"'Gnawing the Bone' means getting to the marrow," says Zoey Watson, who with Meagan Jones is producing the event. "Other choices were 'They All Fall Down' and 'Feeding the Wolf.' 'Gnawing the Bone' appealed more to sheworXX members."
I asked Watson by email what her experience has been like so far.
"'Gnawing the Bone' is seven plays, seven sets, eight playwrights (one play with two writers), etc. With a production like 'Gnawing the Bone' the most difficult aspect is managing all the little pieces times seven. I'm also a first-time producer, so I'm also learning as I go."
In addition, she thinks that the roving audience concept will give attendees a really different theater-going experience.
"We hope to have a more active, engaged audience. 'Gnawing the Bone' is not only a performance or production, but a journey. Audience experience is an aspect of this journey. Having the audience split up into groups also means that the experience will be unique to each group. Hopefully, this will make 'Gnawing the Bone' more memorable and appeal to people who may not ordinarily attend theatre events."
Burris provides the list of the shows that comprise the "Gnawing the Bone" buffet.
• The Fix by Eugenia Woods: Sleeping Beauty as a homeless addict
• Prince William (the snowman) and Rapunzel by Esther Almazan and Catfish Baruni: Can the princely snowman rescue Rapunzel?
• Which Witch, Wrong Note by Kim Lowry: Hansel and Gretel from the witch's point of view
• The Betrothal by Germaine Shames: A young girl weaves a fairy tale among the rubble of a bombed Palestinian village
• Many Times Upon a Time by Klara Wojtkowska: It's every fairy tale wrapped in one
• Night Life by Milta Ortiz: Condemned to roam the streets, one woman seeks revenge, based on La Siguanaba
• Hansei and Weimin by Shel Chapman: The witch turns the table on Hansei and Weimin (Hansel and Gretel)...or does she?
The chief question at the heart of sheworXX, Burris says, is "How can we bring everybody's work to a point of satisfaction that the writer is getting what she needs to continue her process to a product?" She points out that only 27 percent of plays produced are written by women, although women go to plays much more often than men. But, she adds, the group does not exclude men.
"It's really about voice. How can we be creative and heard in an environment that makes sense so the writer keeps writing? Maybe we'll be able to do this, maybe we won't. We'll see. We're still searching for a real grounding."