I saw *Gloria: A Life* off Broadway on 11/19/18.
It's a new play by Emily Mann about Gloria Steinem, starring Christine Lahti as Steinem. Steinem has been a hero of mine since I was a teenager, so I was excited to see this show. My excitement amped up even higher when I walked into the theater and heard this:
Oh yes, I am wise
But it's wisdom borne of pain
The theater was redone to have a more cozy, inclusive feeling - - we sat on benches with pillows at our backs. You can see it better in this photo:
Lahti was fantastic, she nailed all of the complexity, charisma, and brilliance of Steinem. The supporting cast of six actors played many roles throughout the show. It was a thrill to see a show written by a woman, directed by a woman (the great Diane Paulus), about women, with an all-female cast. My initial hunch is that this is the first time I've had this experience since seeing *The Vagina Monologues,* but on closer inspection, that show was directed by a man, Joe Mantello! So this might have been a first (and hopefully not the last).
The play led us through Steinem's life and development as a leader of the women's movement. The storytelling was fluid and engaging, but it had a little bit of what I call And Then This Happened Syndrome. It might have benefited from a little more variety in the narrative structure.
The play was inspiring, but it felt like a prelude to the real event, a talking circle. I was expecting it to be a variation on the standard Q and A after a show, but it was so much more than that. Members of the audience shared their reactions to the play (all of them positive) and shared their own personal stories. One woman spoke through tears about having survived sexual abuse in her family. The Kavanaugh hearings were disturbing for her but she was buoyed the heightened discussion and awareness of sexual violence. She was inspired by the play, by the feeling of community, hope, and empowerment in the room.
I hope this play runs for a long time. It was more than just another night at the theatre, it was a call to arms, a gathering of a strength, and a reminder that while things are bad now, they were worse in the past!