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      WHAT'S UP WITH TOUGH AS WOODPECKER LIPS? By Barbara Biddison

      B6 8Strong and resilient writers and performers and directors. Not necessarily experienced, but willing to try something new, and to work at it, and to offer feedback to others along the way. This describes the 2021 HG Women's Project. This is a group of committed women, each currently working on a final draft of her monologue to be produced in November. I sat in, observed, and read one of the monologues on Saturday, June 5, as we heard the original pieces being work-shopped. Six monologues for this Saturday session, each read by a person who did NOT write it. The person who DID write it could watch and listen to her monologue. The goal here is to see and hear it staged.

      The rest of us, all monologue writers except me, also watched and listened. The small platform to the back of the Warehouse Gallery had on it a chair and a table and served as the stage for all six original monologues. Lilace set up the stage for each one and provided sound effects, and Jessie timed each. After each reading the writers were offered suggestions and asked questions. And then all in the room were able to comment, seek clarification, question motivation, and praise anything that seemed especially effective. And the writer had the opportunity to ask questions too. The spirit in the room was wonderful. The cooperation, the efforts to question without ever finding fault, the appreciation of little bits here and there, the laughter, the admiration for one reader who "handled the French" bits really well in the monologue she read.

      To write something and then be willing to hand it over to others who critique "your" work. To be willing to see it through the voice and expression of another, even if that does not match your original vision. To listen to questions about something that you think is perfectly clear! And then to know what comes next after this writing workshop. It's time to let go. An actor who may be someone that you don't even know could create a character not exactly like what you thought of when you wrote. A director might see something in your monologue that you didn't even know was there. This is where the "strong and resilient" woodpecker lips come to the rescue

      When I first heard this whole concept I thought, "This is genius!" Let's just arbitrarily say that we have different women for all possible positions. We probably won't, but let's just look at what we'd have. if we did. If we had 10 writers, and 10 actors, and 10 directors we could have 30 different women actively involved in this 2021 HGWP. Or we could have 12 writers and 6 directors and 12 actors. And so on. A writer might also audition for a monologue that she did not write and be cast in that one. The possibilities are endless and the opportunities abound. Workshops are scheduled for two more groups of monologues.. Jessie will conduct a director's workshop in late June. Auditions will be held in August/September. And the entire show goes on the stage in November. We must keep our eyes and ears open for the woodpecker!

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