This afternooon I told my new hour-long story Pushing Boundaries for a Women's Studies class at American University and asked their feed-back as I prep it for the first public performance February 15.
The students were a wonderful audience - attentive, and interested during the story and then direct and inquiring during the Q and A session at the end. Their questions about the content were probing and opened the door for me to understand what I need to do to tell the story more completely.
Remembering - telling my stories about the old days of the ERA campaign and the Women's Artists Movement was fun. Talking about my lobbying on Capitol Hill and testifying before an NEA Budget Committee as though it happened just yesterday. I loved recapturing the excitment, the challenges and the terror of it all. That's where I did my first storytelling - telling the story of the unequal treatment for women artists in a male favoring career environment. I heard my self saying the familiar phrases I thought I had forgotten - women were the first fired - last hired in academia not to mention lowest paid. I wonder if it is still true?
Later this evening as I read the survey questions the students answered in writing I was surprised how few had ever heard of the women's aritsts movement or realized the need for an organized effort to over-come a male favoring art world in order to be a professional, to have a real career in the arts - not just a hobby?
Goes to show - if you don't keep telling the story - there is no story.
The young women in the class were impressive - posing thoughtful and insightful questions. Some of their questions surprised me - did my family object to my activism? Was it hard to balance going back to college with children - how did I do it? They pushed me deeper into the story - asking for the personal as well as the historical. Tell us more about you - how hard was it for you to do these tihngs?
Are they telling me that I have reached an age where I have something to tell them from my experience that they need to know - so they can do what they need to?
This was on an invitation card I picked up somewhere in the 1980s. I have hung onto it since then. Don't know who made it - but whoever did - nailed it!
Posted by ELLOUISESTORY