Other Ovarian Acts

Looking for a centerpiece for your upcoming fundraiser? Interested in the transformative power of activist art?

Look no further: That Takes Ovaries, by Rivka Solomon and Bobbi Ausubel, is powerful theater. As previously reported by the Ms. Blog, this collection of 22 first-person rebellion narratives is culturally diverse, fun and touching. From the pure adventure of sky-diving to the danger of crossing the border from Mexico in search of a better life, the stories in this play recount times when women have fought back, when they have resisted oppression, stopped violence or otherwise acted up.

To accompany a reading of the play last Sunday at the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Project, director Vesna Hocevar created a slideshow of city streets, garden fountains and pastoral sunsets that complimented the ever-changing locations, identities and adventures told in the stories. Even while immersed in the fiction of the performance, the audience could not forget the actual danger and bravery of the real-life women’s acts. Three actors performed all the roles, but the audience saw in them the experiences of multifarious women who take risks to improve their lives and the lives of women everywhere.

That Takes Ovaries has been performed over 700 times around the globe, usually as a fundraiser for women’s causes. The 90-minute play, adapted from the book of the same name, is available for production with minimal royalty fees and can be acted by anywhere from three to twenty actors. As Solomon puts it [PDF],

The audience for the play are those eager for examples of women and girls acting outside the stereotype of passivity and niceness, including women and men of all ages who want to see their sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts and friends leading empowered lives; mothers and fathers who care about their daughters growing up self-assured and confident; and girls eager to be a part of the girl power movement.

Ausubel and Solomon are eagerly seeking their first professional production and tirelessly promoting the play to colleges, non-profits and theater companies. They provide coaching for groups without theater experience, and every performance is followed by an open mike that allows audience members to tell their own stories of acts of ovarian bravery. On Sunday, I heard from audience members who overcame cancer, beat alcoholism and reunited with estranged children. Judging from the chatter at the reception afterward, the stories just kept coming.

Activist art aims to empower audience members to change their own lives and the conditions of their society, but transforming the passive experience of watching into the active experience of doing is not easy. By literally handing the stage over to the audience, That Takes Ovaries rewards individual audience members for their own ovarian acts, encourages future ones and ultimately changes culture for the better. To organize a reading or full production in your community, contact the authors via their website, www.ThatTakesOvaries.org.

TOP: Author Rivka Solomon


Holly L. Derr is the Head of Graduate Directing at the University of Memphis and a feminist media critic who uses the analytical tools of theater to reflect upon broader issues of culture, race and gender. Follow her @hld6oddblend.