February 6, 2013
TERRY BAUM TOURS SOUTH AFRICA
THURSDAY FEB. 7 @ 8 PM
Beaulah Bar, 1st Floor, 24 Somerset Road, Green Point
FRIDAY FEB. 22 @ 5:30 PM
Wits Amphitheatre ,University of the Witwatersrand.
Co-Presented by Wits Drama for Life and Writing Centre
A love-crazed lesbian on the loose…
A closeted butch woman at the bedside of her dying wife…
An old-time bar dyke and storyteller…
A feisty female candidate for Mayor of San Francisco…
These characters — and more — are brought to life by Terry Baum, pioneer lesbian playwright.
Terry has been creating theater in San Francisco since 1974.
Her plays have been published, translated into Dutch, French, Swedish, and Italian and produced all over the world.
She has toured North America, Europe and Israel as a solo performer of her own plays.
FOR MORE INFO: email@example.com
January 10, 2013
THE VERSION MARY
by Terry Baum
Our latest show, CRONES FOR THE HOLIDAYS, plays at at Stage Werx in San Francisco through December 30. We do sketch comedy and improv from a lesbian, feminist and generally subversive viewpoint. What better subject to subvert in a Christmas show than the actual birth of Jesus? Perhaps the most interesting part of our show, and the part that was the hardest to create, is “The Version Mary.”
Carolyn Myers, my croney, and I both felt driven to reshape the myth of the Virgin Mary — but in very different ways. Neither of us believe that a woman was impregnated by a god, and gave birth to a baby who founded a religion. Everyone is aware of this myth. But it’s almost never explored theatrically in a subversive way. Some of our friends were shocked by the project. Although they were non-believers, they felt uncomfortable with anyone messing with the Virgin Mary. Oh, goody!
My interest was in a real human being whose actions to save herself had given rise to the myth of the “immaculate conception.” I imagined a young girl who invented a fantastical story to explain her otherwise disastrous pregnancy. How could Mary have convinced everyone around her that she had never had sex with anyone when she was PREGNANT?
Carolyn, on the other hand, is a devotee of the Goddess. She considers the Virgin Mary a powerful manifestation of the Goddess that has been co-opted by Catholicism — as she wrote, “the face of compassion pasted on a brutal regime.” Carolyn wanted to reclaim Mary as the Goddess of Loving-Kindness.
And then there was Pussy Riot, the Russian punk band who occupied the altar of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow ten months ago, singing a song asking the Virgin Mary’s help to get rid of Vladimir Putin, who is fast making himself dictator-for-life in Russia. “Virgin Mary, become a feminist! Virgin Mary, put Putin away!” was the chorus of their radical song. Three of these amazing young women were sentenced to prison in Siberia for their flamboyant protest. We two Crones wanted to honor their courage.
How to combine these three visions? Carolyn volunteered to write the damn thing, and she struggled mightily. First, it was a solo for Mary. Then we added a young pregnant girl in the Soviet Union in 1962. Mary became a Russian icon that comes to life. One scene became two — the second in Russia in 2012, to allow for Pussy Riot. Carolyn brought in version after version — or Virgin after Virgin, you might say. She gave up in frustration. So I wrote a Virgin, which still wasn’t right. Carolyn took the scene back. I was having trouble playing the young girl, so we switched roles and now I’m the Virgin Mary — and loving it.
In the end, a scene we worried would never work has become one of the strongest parts of the show. And the Pussy Riot theme demanded a multi-media extravaganza that these two Luddite C rones could never have imagined. To see the results of our mighty labors, come see CRONES FOR THE HOLIDAYS.
November 28, 2012
LONG STORY SHORT: We were inspired and our acting got better — People loved our show — Our audiences started out small and got bigger — We met some amazing people — Younger performers treated us as honored elders — We had a great time.
We were in New York for most of August. We had five performances at the NY International Fringe Festival between Aug.10 and Aug. 25. We were very lucky to be at the renowned La Mama Theater in the East Village. Performing at the NY Fringe can be arduous. They produce around 280 (!?!) shows, so the Fringe is hyper-organized and all time slots are brief and defined. We had 15 minutes to set up and to strike after every performance. Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? But the fact is that we ended up doing it in a lot less than the allotted time. Oh, and then there was the matter of flame retardant. Do you want to hear about all of this? Probably not. The flame retardant saga was boring to US, even when we were in the middle of it.
Anyhow, we performed our classic pieces — EVE IN THERAPY and COMING-OUT TRANSFORMATIONS, our relatively new scene, MOM COMES OUT, my monolog on crashing the mayoral forums when I ran for mayor in 2011 (I don’t think I’ve done this in SF, actually), and 2 improvisations (Theresa Thesaurus and Plot Genie), which took precisely 1 1/2 hours, which was all the time we were given. We both felt inspired just by performing in the capital of theater in the United States, and our acting really took a leap. Then our acting took another leap because we were inspired by some of the other performers in the Fringe, when we went to see their work.
Actually, it was Carolyn who was inspired. She is a much more open person than I am. And then I had to really ramp up MY acting, just because of what SHE was doing. Kinda like playing tennis with someone who’s better than you — it’s the best possible thing for your own game.
We performed several times at late night cabarets where many theaters did very short scenes. Almost all the actors in the Fringe were much younger than us. They were so NICE to us. One young woman said to Carolyn: ”I want to be you when I grow up.” It felt really RIGHT to be treated as a honored elder. And we in turn were inspired by their acting. Two young women in particular who were really WILD — Carolyn felt we had untapped “wild” potential. It really was very exciting to feel ourselves pushed and challenged by the artists around us, at the same time that we were respected.
Below is a photo of us with renowned feminist activist Charlotte Bunch (between us), who came with friends to our first performance. We were so thrilled to meet her. We all went out afterwards and talked and talked. That’s one of the great things about NY. It really is a crossroads, and you encounter so many amazing people.
July 18, 2012
Carolyn and I are so excited about being in the NY International Fringe Festival! For one thing, we just love New York City — especially in the summer, when everyone’s on the street hanging out and there’s so much going on in Central Park. We’ll be staying with close friends on the Upper West Side.
There are lots of Fringe Festivals in the U.S., and most choose their plays by lottery. But New York is juried, so we strove mightily to make our case with videos, scripts, bios and an amusing (we hoped) cover letter. As we said in the letter, “Sure, you’ll get lots of applications from pioneer funny feminists. But are they as funny as the Crackpot Crones? We think not!” Apparently, the judges thought not, too. We’re very proud to have made the cut.
Our motto is “Never the Same Show Twice!” And of course that is true, simply because we improvise scenes. But it’s also true that we’re writing new scenes all the time. We probably have enough really good written material for several shows — and that’s without improvisations. We have this idea that we’re going to present ALL our written scenes in the five performances.