Gloria: A Life is currently playing at the Herstory Theater in downtown Saint Paul. This new play (in its regional premiere) takes a look at not only the life of Gloria Steinem, but at the feminist movement as a whole as well. The first act which is 80 minutes is centered around a talking circle, were Gloria from 2019, portrayed on stage by Charity Jones, tells a group of women about her life. This ensemble of women end up taking a part playing out vignettes from Gloria's life. Portraying both adversaries (usually men) who doubted her and her worth as a journalist, and mentors and partners in the struggle for equal rights (women like Belle Abzug, Flo Kennedy and Wilma Mankiller). The ensemble is diverse, and the show elevates the importance of women of color throughout the entire equal rights movement. Although Gloria Steinem is a white woman and this show is framed around her story, Gloria: A Life is successful in showing those who supported Gloria and not simply putting her on a pedestal as a pioneer of the movement.
The second act of the play is a short 15 minute talking circle in which the audience is invited to participate. Sharing comments or thoughts from their own lives that the play brought up. The comments shared at opening night were very thoughtful. And it was one of the best "post show talk backs" that I have ever attended. One of the themes that was highlighted in the talking circle is the hopeful feeling that this show gives, of how far we've come. While at the same time feeling slight disheartened that we still have so far to go, and many of the issues women were fighting for 50 years ago we are still fighting for today.
The scenic design by Joel Sass is centered around a round stage that is reminiscent of a living room, making us all feel like we are sitting around together listening to stories (and isn't that what theater is). But the backdrop is used extremely well, a brick wall with window that serve as screens on which are projected (video designer: Miko Simmons) the faces of the diverse women of the feminist movement, news clips from the past, and many other resources that aid in not only setting the scene but educating the audience.
Gloria: A Life is playing at the Herstory (also known as History) Theater through October 20th and is a great show for feminists of all ages. Click here for more information about the show and how to get tickets.
*Photo credit: Rick Spaulding