Workshop led by Pooja Ru Prema and Cindy L. Parrish with Meg Agnew, Cynthia Atwood, Suzi Banks Baum, Sarah Nicholson, Nancy Rothman, Camille Roos, Gail Ryan and Gabrielle Senza
Whitney Center for The Arts, 42 Wendell Ave, Pittsfield, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Rites of Passage was a 21-room living museum/ performance which took place in June 2013 at Whitney Center for the Arts, celebrating the unique thresholds of women’s lives from girlhood through elderhood, directed by Pooja Ru Prema in collaboration with 65 women and men, ages 3 to 89. In this writing workshop, we will view film footage from a handful of select rooms taken by Cindy L. Parrish, and then break out into writing sessions led by artists, in the (now-empty) rooms they curated or performed in during the June show. Participants will be able to experience and visit three different rooms through the course of the workshop, as well as participate in larger group sharing over toast and tea. Bring a back-jack for comfort if you desire, and please plan to arrive at least 5 minutes ahead of time. We encourage you to bring your mothers & daughters (age 10 and up). Men are welcome!
Pooja Ru Prema is the founder and artistic director of Rogue Angel Theatre, and the director of Rites of Passage. She holds a BA from Bard College at Simon’s Rock and her explorations in theatre have always centered around ritual, community, and storytelling. Her credits include a solo clown tour on a bicycle through Kerala, India; co-producing the vintage-era Topple & Bottom Carnival; creating, directing and producing Isis-Chernobyl: A Tale of Uncertain Fruit; Solidao (her one woman show); and Dances in a Field. For Rites of Passage, she curated the rooms Sisterhood, The Wise Wound, and Our Fathers, and co-curated the Motherhood room. She is currently working on a radical interactive community performance called The Theatre of Freedom, to be offered in summer 2014. She is deeply honored to work with the phenomenal women of Rites of Passage, and to be part of the Berkshire Women Writers Festival.
Cindy L. Parrish filmed the Rites of Passage installation performance. She also curated the room Animus, and co-curated the room Motherhood, in Rites of Passage. She is the founding co-director of Heroic Productionz, an educational media, curriculum guide production, and consulting company, which has produced two award-winning educational projects: HEROIC GIRLZ (with Meg Agnew), and MAGIC PLANET. Cindy is also the author of a dozen screenplays and numerous stage plays for children, and the co-author, with Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez of the graphic novel, JOLIE ROUGE (the story of two real-life women pirates). Cindy is a founding member of the storytelling trio, The Snickering Witches, and is currently the artistic director of Act Now!
Meg Agnew has been a movement theater artist for most of her life. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Drama Department, she performed for many years in New York City and taught at NYU’s Experimental Theatre Wing and other venues in the United States and Europe. She is currently a dance and theater Teaching Artist in the Capital Region of New York and the Berkshires and is also a Licensed Massage Therapist practicing the Trager Method® of Psychophysical Integration. The co-founder, with Cindy Parrish, of the award-winning arts-based educational company, Heroic Productionz, she lives with her family in Canaan, NY. She was a member of the dance ensemble in Rites of Passage.
Cynthia Atwood earned a B.F.A. in Painting and Printmaking and an M.F.A. in Visual Arts/Sculpture and has spent the last 27 years in the Berkshires, running a sewing business and a studio practice. In 2000, she was awarded the Sculpture Prize in the Cambridge Art Association’s National Prize Show. She has taught and been involved with “The Body Project,” a project for women of all ages addressing body image and adornment with the Railroad St. Youth Project of Gt. Barrington, and IS 183 School for the Arts. She currently teaches in the Vermont College of Fine Arts Graduate Program. In Rites of Passage she curated the room Menopause, and co-curated the Re-Birth Canal.
Suzi Banks Baum defies description. At one moment she is writing about mothering and creativity and at another she is stirring jam. The next moment finds her producing events or making books. At all times Suzi is the proud mother of two, grateful glad partner to her husband, and descendant of a line of women who wrote letters, made things, taught others, and loved chickens. She recently published An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice, available on Amazon or at local Berkshire bookstores. Her mail art correspondence with Karen Arp-Sandel, called FeMail, keeps her making art wherever she goes. In Rites of Passage, Suzi co-curated the kitchen (Woman as Domestic Goddess), and the room Motherhood. You can keep up with seeing and celebrating the sacred in daily life with Suzi, her writing workshops and conference appearances at LaundryLineDivine.com.
Sarah Nicholson says: I AM blessed to have been born and raised in Antigua, West Indies. I AM grateful for my devoted husband of 23 years and the 3 children we have together. I AM honored to be a doula, earlier for birth and now for transition and end of life, serving elders and others in their homes. I AM passionate about choosing joy and sharing it with others through my photography. Sarah co-curated the Re-Birth Canal room in Rites of Passage.
Camille Roos grew up among sailboats and tipis with supportive parents who encouraged self-expression. From childhood onward, she would fight for her rights of poesy and paper, finding time to write and draw for loved ones and herself. Camille spent much of her time picnicking in graveyards and the forest, and went to Simon’s Rock to study philosophy and visual art at age 17. She recently finished her B.A. thesis, an interactive public art experiment titled ‘Evidence of Bridges,’ at Goddard College in Vermont, and curated the rooms Maidenhood and A Womb of Her Own (while pregnant with her first child) in Rites of Passage.
Nancy Rothman is a performing artist, actor, writer, painter, storyteller, educator, psychotherapist, consultant and activist. A graduate of Emerson College, a certified secondary level teacher of Speech and English in MA, she also studied at Harvard University, NYU in Paris and completed a four year post-graduate certification at the Helix Institute for Psychotherapy and the Healing Arts in New York City. Her work is informed by theatre, improvisation, a sense of humor and a deep respect for the power of the human imagination. She was a member of the dance ensemble in Rites of Passage.
Gail Ryan has worked Off Broadway as an actor and spent many years traveling and performing in Jean Erdman’s The Coach With the Six Insides, taken from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake. The production received several Obie’s and other awards and toured the world for six years. In 1989, she purchased an Inn in the Berkshires, where she produced Sunday Night Storytelling and Dinner. She has worked with Mixed Company; Berkshire Theatre Festival, Miniature Theatre of Chester; Castle Hill Theatre Company; The Mount, and Aglet Theatre Company. She was a member of the dance ensemble in Rites of Passage.
Gabrielle Senza is an internationally recognized multi-disciplinary artist. Her work has been included in solo and traveling group shows throughout the U.S. and abroad, and is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of Art, MoMA NYC, and numerous other corporate and private collections. With a burning desire for deeper expression, Senza has included dance, theater, art and music in her creative practice, recently finding opportunities to combine disciplines, as in her debut theater solo performance, I Tuoi Segreti, for the Berkshire Fringe 2011 Gala, and Terra Temporalis, a multi-disciplinary performance piece featuring solo cello, movement, drawing, dance and destruction. She is currently at work on her first feature-length one-woman show. She curated the room Hysteria in Rites of Passage.