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Streaming the Powerful But Off-Balanced Matriarch in the Societal Backyard

Streaming the Powerful But Off-Balanced Matriarch in the Societal Backyard

Cristina Frias in Perfecta

Written by Jesse Bliss, Diane Rodriguez, Sigrid Gilmer,
Roger Q. Mason, Tamar Halpern, Taylor Lytle & Sheila Govindarajan
Created & Directed by Jesse Bliss

Drive or stroll in, but don’t stare. You might just get a talking to in this backyard ode to motherhood gathering where “time dropped to my feet like a single drop of water.” This stand-up poetry reading is a fascinating mixed bag of song, and the occasional awkward dance, co-executive produced by The Roots and Wings Project (Jesse Bliss and Gabriela López de Dennis, Co-Producers) alongside the Houston Coalition Against Hate (HCAH). It’s wildly uneven but mostly strong, with the scenes inside of Matriarch, the transformative theatre experience streaming out into the world until October 30th, dynamically starting out loudly, driven in with a sense of purpose, shifting its form to an outdoor poetry fest that attempts to explore the roles women play in our annoyingly patriarchal society. It breaths in and out with engagement, fire, and fury, filmed live on a small poorly lit stage, bringing forth the urgent need to transform the matriarchal dynamic within. Pre-recorded from live outdoor performances at the MKM Cultural Arts Center in Los Angeles, this powerfully uneven show premiered online Friday, October 8th, and was followed by a live panel discussion moderated by Marjorie Joseph (Executive Director of HCAH) featuring creator/director Jesse Bliss (Founder and Artistic Director of The Roots and Wings Project) and local domestic violence prevention advocates including Dr. Nusrat Ameen (Senior Director of Legal Services for Daya) and Barbie Brashear (Executive Director of the Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council). The performances are now available for free streaming online on The Roots and Wings Project’s Facebook Page October 15-30, Friday and Saturday at 7pm CT/8pm ET/5pm PT.

Gabriel Diamond in Gabriel’s Monologue

Speaking to the critical and desperate need for women in our society to be honored and respected, Matriarch digs deep, unpacking and resorting the “goddess of motherhood and fatherhood” in a succession of one-person monologue narratives, brought together and combined to form a larger stance and story in the name of “perfecta”. At a time when the patriarchy of our world oppresses the matriarchal roles across all color lines, this insistent work generally finds its solid footing, even when it stumbles off balance now and then. Presented and performed by a strong willed gang of talented female artists and their allies from around the world, inside and outside of prison, across all lines of race, class, background, sexual orientation and artistic discipline, Matriarch finds it’s centralized intersectional core within this united front and brings it forward for our enlightenment. 

The all-star lineup of artists and revolutionaries finds unbalanced intrigue that engages over half of the running time, presenting its theme within this individualistic storytelling moments that include: the powerful and poetic Perfecta, written by Diane Rodriguez (Living Large at Chicago’s Teatro Luna) and performed by the magnetic Cristina Frias (The Motherf*cker with the Hat with South Coast Rep); alongside The Formula, written by Taylor Lytle (California Coalition for Women Prisoners) and performed by Morgan Danielle Day (The Karens with The Muse Collective); Code, Decode, Recode, written and performed by Jesse Bliss (The Joy Ride); Age, Sex, Location, written by Roger Q. Mason (The Duat with Center Theatre Group) and performed by Ramy El-Etreby (The Ride at Hudson Guild, Hollywood Fringe Festival); the touching and deep Remember This, written by Sigrid Gilmer (“A Series of Unfortunate Events” on Netflix) and performed by Bahni Turpin (narrator of Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah audiobook); and lastly, the totally engaging and captivating Gabriel’s Monologue a eulogy, written by Tamar Halpern (Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life) and tenderly performed by the appealing Gabriel Diamond (co-creator of the Vulnerable Rally) for his mother. This imaginative and diverse theatrical work also includes an opening song written and performed by vocalist Sheila Govindarajan (Lady of the Lake). It finds its footing in singular moments that personally connect, digging into our collective heart when the internal triggers are unlocked. But, the formula also disengages that hold when the odd bit of fire misses its particularly personal mark and doesn’t connect to our internal flame. The pieces of the puzzle that work for me, might not be the stories that connects inside of you. That is the way with this kind of structure. But there is enough here, in this backyard setting surrounded by an audience of fans in folding chairs, to make this 90 minute exploration worthy of the outdoor visit online. Check it out, and see what hits your heart.

Bahni Turpin in Remember This

The recorded performance and panel conversation will stream FREE online on The Roots and Wings Project’s Facebook Page October 15-30, Friday and Saturday at 7pm CT/8pm ET/5pm PT after streaming live October 8th on HCAH’s Facebook pageand on YouTube. The performance will run approximately 90 minutes, with no intermission.

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Out of Town

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to

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