I am a big fan of the experience gift as a birthday present. Things are arbitrary and ephemeral and take up space, but experiences are satisfying, memorable, and life-enhancing. In the audience for the play Gloria: A Life, there were two friends who I gifted tickets to for their recent birthday celebrations.
Good choice by me as this is a play that needs to be experienced. It is a play that teaches, inspires, and satisfies. It would be impossible to sit in that cozy circle in the round theater perched on your deliberately inviting, colorful and dare I say, highly feminine, seat cushion with matching back pillow (custom ordered for this show) and not experience a cavalcade of emotions and life introspection as you learn about the courageous and kind Gloria Steinem.
Out of the gates we learn that our real-life heroine is a self-proclaimed “hope-aholic.” I love this term. This hope is such a necessary part of her life equation because lord and Gloria know there were enough folks that tried to snuff out that inner light and unwieldy cross that she carried and continues to carry so brightly. To be on the receiving end of such consistently loud, visceral and ill-placed vitriol must have been so exhausting, punch in the gut painful and hope snuffing. But she carried on! And how.
Another vital aspect of her survive, move forward and make things happen resilience toolkit were the countless strong, fiery and committed women woven into the tapestry of the movement. These female bastions of support were on display in force via the talented ensemble that assumed the roles of the various women that were woven into the tapestry of Gloria’s life. Fueled by hope and this gracious, spicy, and unwavering support system, Gloria went on to be Gloria and achieve all that she achieved.
Christine Lahti (a good friend of the real Gloria Steinem), with the help of some well-chosen accessories, easily and believably assumes her friend’s identity. The camera work where they fuse real-time coverage with news snippets of yore was interesting to watch. The play moves along at a quick and furious clip with Lahti animatedly narrating the array of elements that construct the life that was and remains to be Gloria Steinem.
And then… then they break for Act II. The story with this act II: after the telling of Gloria’s life each night the lights come up and a female of note comes out to lead the audience in a version of one of Gloria Steinem’s talking circles. There were rules. This audience, still comfortable, but now perched on the edge of our cushy theater seats, did not need these rules. However, I think they are a potent reminder as to how we should all approach every conversation we have. These rules would be particularly helpful for any person in a leadership role, elected or otherwise, to embrace (if you know what I mean). The rules are here…
This audience member in her heart of hearts wanted only one person to walk out on the stage for our Act II. This audience member got her wish. Hello Gloria Steinem. The besotted crowd went wild, in a good way. (I am guessing I was not supposed to take this picture. Couldn’t help myself. Sorry producers.I will take it down if you want).
The 84-year-young Gloria Steinem, tall and strong, stood at the center of our audience’s circle and talked with us. A lot was said and shared. Gloria herself, like us, must find these conversations wonderfully gratifying and “life” affirming. What struck me is just how sincere and unaffected she is. With each and every comment or question from the audience, she looked directly at the speaker, considered what was said and then went on to have a very personable and real conversation with that person.
She was funny and obviously articulate. I think we could have sat there all night and well into the next day sharing and conversing and basking in the glow that is Gloria Steinem. I am certain we are all glad we were there. You should Grab Your Group and GO too! The run was recently extended through March 31st. Such a special and important experience. I am going back. With my daughter. And my son. Especially my son. Let me know if you want me to bring yours. 🙂