Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Poetry of Women on Fire

Every once in a while, the law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski invites their women clients to special events. So, last night I went to the Paramount Theatre here in Austin to see the one-woman show called Women on Fire, starring Judith Ivey.

Great show. Ms. Ivey did ten different characters, all unforgettable, all with wonderful stories to tell. She glided easily from one character to the next, no intermission. Each one had a unique voice and personality. Very few props. One chair on stage and a stool with a small case where she occasionally pulled out a hat or scarf to put on. Otherwise, it was just her, only you quickly forgot it was an actor as she became each woman.

That may have been it, end of story -- I went to the play and came home. But the reason I mentioned I went as a guest of F&J is because the evening was more than just a great show. Before the show, there was a reception with hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Then afterward, the 48 women who were guests went back upstairs to the reception area where Ms. Ivey joined us for questions, comments and her insights.

It was during this after-show time Ms. Ivey mentioned that, as believably as she seemed to inhabit the characters, she was not adlibbing at any point. Everything was memorized, and, no, she did not write the material. It was written by another woman, Irene O’Garden, and was, in fact material taken from a larger work involving words from thirty characters. What surprised me is that the material was written as poetry.

Ms. Ivey said that if you saw the pieces on paper you would see it as non-rhyming poems. I could see the poetry in each woman’s story, but had not thought of it as being written as poems. I thought it wonderful to know this little piece of information about the show, and about the writer, of course.

Today is the last day of the show. If you go, listen for the poetry. And take a friend with you. It’s a great show to share. And, yes, there were men in the audience.

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