I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday than to perform “Silence Is Violence” at RIT’s annual “Take Back The Night” rally with Julia Child and Edith Evans. Yes, the morning I turned none-of-your-business (as Julia would say) I was boarding a US airways flight to the beautiful and chilly city of Rochester with my two BGF’s (best guerrilla friends). After checking into our hotel and singing a few musical theatre medleys we head off to the RIT campus – a huge sprawling brick conglomerate of gianormous buildings and winding roads. We find the theatre and meet our fabulous hostess, Susanne, who greets us with veggie wraps and coffee…the sure fire quick way into our hearts. After a tech rehearsal that was interrupted by a constant changeover of the tech crew we go over our posters, DV stats and improvisations on date rape and bystander intervention. We meet our fearless student volunteer, Nevin, who takes the name of Frida Kahlo as an honorary member of Guerrilla Girls On Tour for a day. Backstage it’s all warm ups we recently learned at Upright Citizens Brigade (yes, we are all trained in long form improv techniques) and we’re off on the first show of the season.
A few hilarious mishaps both planned (Obama dances al la Saturday Night Fever) and not planned (Julia’s wig flies off) later Julia and Edith surprise me when the audience sings a loud “Happy Birthday” to me at the end of the show. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Yes, we had the audience practicing chanting all though the performance so that by the end and the beginning of the “Take Back The Night” rally we’d all be in fine voice for our march around the gym. As a survivor of domestic violence it was particularly poignant and touching for me to be doing this on my birthday…god knows there was many a chance that I would not have made it past my 27th! A fine Q and A ended our two-hour show and we headed off to the nearby coffee shop which is also a bar for some celebratory cocktails to end the night. I got carded….no longer flattering, just plain ridiculous at my age, and the nice barkeep bought me a birthday pint. Now that’s hospitality Rochester style. I fell asleep like a baby in my heavenly bed dreaming of tours to come.
October 1, 2009
Edith Evans here, just back from upstate New York, Rochester to be exact, where the leaves are all ready turning, the temperature is all ready dropping, and the students are all ready involved, chanting and marching, for ‘Take Back the Night.‘
For those of you like me who skipped the college culture and went directly into bohemian artistic employment – ‘Take Back the Night’ started in the late 1970’s as a way to raise awareness to sexual violence and support those who have been victimized. The goal of these gatherings is to help women achieve a feeling of safety and empowerment. Many events are women only, but now men are also standing up as survivors and some events are becoming co ed. (takebackthenight.org)
Julia Child, Aphra Behn and I started our day together at the airport drinking coffee and eating delicate, beautiful, little cupcakes in honor of Aphra’s birthday. What a nice treat!
Aphra and I also got to experience a little culture shock while buying some disposable camera’s in the local Rite Aid. The cashier was so friendly. We had a long lengthy discussion with her about heat and our new friend wanted so much to continue the conversation she walked us to the door on the way out. Being from NYC we confessed to being afraid she wouldn’t leave us but would follow us right into our car.
Off to campus. It is a big campus. Once again though, a friendly security guard drew us a map of where we needed to go. And he was right!
Susanne was there to greet us and set us up (and got us some much needed coffee too, thanks Susanne!) and tech began. And many hours later tech ended. Show time!
The audience was really responsive. There was almost no need for Julia to encourage them to get into the spirit and rock the house out with their voices. Our student volunteer Nevin did a fine job as a chest bumping, subway sub eating male student. And after marching around the campus ‘Sentinel’ the students came back for a Q & A.
Afterwards, we went to a local bar (and got carded, would you believe!) and had a beer once again in honor of Aphra’s birthday. We slept on the delightful heavenly rest mattress, and came home on time thanks to the most efficient flight attendant ever. Yeah baby.
It’s nice to be back on tour,