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Women’s Center looks for brave, bold actors

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Photo: Bo Anderson / Lanthorn

GVL/Bo Anderson

Dionna Cheatham speaks during the That Takes Ovaries! open mic and sneak peak

Talking about brave, bold acts can be difficult for some people, but the Grand Valley State University Women’s Center is giving student, faculty, staff and community members a chance to share their stories.

“That Takes Ovaries: Bold Women, Brazen Acts,” is back at GVSU for it’s second year, featuring stories of bravery, courage and strength that tackle a range of emotions.

Performances aren’t until March 22 in the Kirkhof Center and March 23 at the Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids, but the Women’s Center tried to get people excited with the Jan. 22 event, “Leading A Bold Life: Reading and Open Mic Night,” and is hosting auditions Jan. 25 from 3-7 p.m. and Jan. 27 from 2-5 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center, room 1104.

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GVL/Jessica Hollenbeck Dionna Cheatham speaks during the That Takes Ovaries! open mic and sneak peak as Kira Smith-Butland and Jacqui Bernhardt look on.

The reading and open mic night was a preview of the main performance in March. The three production chairs read a story from the play, followed by the open mic, where audience members were able to get up and share stories of a time when they were brave.

Karen Libman, co-founder of the Vagina Monologues at GVSU and associate professor of theatre, was the master of ceremonies for the event.

“I’m a cheerleader for the event and a big supporter of the Women’s Center and the wonderful work that they do,” Libman said.

Before last year, GVSU held the “Vagina Monologues” for more than a decade, Libman said. But unlike the set script of the “Vagina Monologues,” Brittany Dernberger, assistant director of the Women’s Center, said with “That Takes Ovaries: Bold Women, Brazen Acts,” anyone from the GVSU community can submit their stories. The submissions provide the play with a variety of different stories each year.

Kira Smith-Butland, the advertising and public relations chair for the event, got involved because of the gender issue at hand.

“Gender justice in general is very important to me, for myself and for my family history so that was a big reason why, but also I love theatre,” Smith-Butland said.

She said that half of the scenes from this year’s play were submitted from the GVSU community, with the other half coming from the “That Takes Ovaries” book.

“People who audition are just, they’re just showing up to audition,” Butland-Smith said. “They don’t have to have any theatre experience, any acting experience, they don’t have to have written anything, it’s just a matter of showing up and either wanting to get involved because they want to try out theatre maybe, or maybe they want to become more involved with gender justice or specifically the Women’s Center here at GVSU.”

She also said if students are afraid of not being able to memorize their lines, there will be a lot of “behind-the-scenes” people to help them practice, and not to worry.

“The people auditioning, they probably won’t be professional actors, but over the course of, you know, the six weeks between auditions and the play, they will have memorized all of their things,” Smith-Butland said. “We have a team of directors already selected and they’ve committed to working with our actors a hundred percent along the way.”

Dernberger hopes people will attend the event in March, which raises money for local organizations, such as the YMCA in Grand Rapids, and the Center for Women in Transition in Holland, Mich. to support their anti-violence programs.

For more information on the performance or auditions, email ThatTakesOvariesGVSU@gmail.com.

ssabaitis@lanthorn.com



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