Denim Doves

written by Adrienne Dawes
lyrics by Cyndi Williams
original Music and Arrangements by Ellen Warkentine
including adaptations of music by Erik Secrest
directed by Rosie Glen-Lambert

JANUARY 19 - FEBRUARY 17, 2018
EXTENDED THROUGH FEBRUARY 24, 2018
Fridays & Saturdays @ 8pm, Sundays @ 7pm
(no performance Sunday, Feb. 18)
Previews: Sun, Jan. 14 @ 7pm & Thurs, Jan. 18 @ 8pm
Understudy performance: Sunday, Feb. 4 @ 7pm

Tickets: $15 (Previews: $10)
Fri, Jan. 26: Donate What You Can (see below)
Buy Tickets Now

WEST COAST PREMIERE! In a not-too-distant future, nestled deep in the woods of what was once a small Midwestern town, a modest compound is home to five denim-clad sister wives and their naive husband, "Penis." When a mysterious sixth wife arrives to join the sisterly Braid, clad in scandalous acid-wash and singing forbidden songs of ancient riot grrls, will she compromise the security of this pious sect? And who, if anyone, will produce a long-awaited heir from the night of The Seedling, their semi-annual procreation ritual?

Performing on the Broadwater Mainstage (Entrance at 1076 Lillian Way).

Reviews

"It is a scrumptious, in-your-face satire that might make its ancestors, Beyond the Fringe and Monty Python, green with envy. Denim Doves is spiced with rudeness and a fearless use of language, all powered by an extraordinarily dedicated cast of players who, under the demanding direction of Rosie Glen-Lambert, throw caution to the wind, playing with balls-to-the-wall foolhardiness in a damn-the-torpedoes, swing-for-the-fences dedication." -Paul Myrvold's Theatre Notes

More

Friday, January 26: DONATE WHAT YOU CAN. It's "Pay What You Can" with a twist! Half of all proceeds for this performance will be donated to ProjectQ, a non-profit organization founded by Madin Lopez to help LGBTQIA and homeless youth combat bullying, develop self esteem and find an identity for themselves through hair styling. For the past five years, they have been working with different organizations to help realize this goal. Purchase tickets now!

Quiz

Welcome to the Denim Doves compound. Now, who are you? Everyone has a special role to play in this crazy post-apocalyptic world. Are you a sister-wife in subjugation or an object of devotion? Take the quiz to find out!

Video

Photos

Cast

Janellen Steininger as First Wife
Meg Cashel as Second Wife
Jennie Kwan as Third Wife
Lana Rae Jarvis as Fourth Wife
Teri Gamble as Fifth Wife
Evangeline Crittenden as Sixth Wife
Miss Barbie-Q as Prophet/Interpreter 1
Angelique Maurnae as Joan/Interpreter 2
Corey Walter Johnson as Penis
Tyler Bremer as First Son

Understudies

Joanna Churgin as First Wife
Angela Cristantello as Second Wife
Jennifer Christina DeRosa as Third Wife
Sequoia Rhian as Fourth Wife
Muriel Montgomery as Fifth Wife
Stephanie Brait as Sixth Wife
Victoria Ortiz as Prophet/Interpreter 1
Taylor Bennett as Joan/Interpreter 2
Brandon Blum as Penis / First Son

Crew

Produced for Sacred Fools by Tifanie McQueen & Amir Levi
Associate Producer - Richard Levinson
Stage Manager - Shawna Voragen
Musical Director - Ellen Warkentine
Choreographer - Darla MacDonald
Fight Choreographer - Laura Napoli
Assistant Director - Lindsey Newell
Dramaturg - Lisa Dring
Scenic Designer - Lex Gernon
Lighting Designer - Joey Guthman
Costume Designer - Rebecca Carr
Sound Designer - Lily Sorenson
Prop Designer - Lisa Anne Nicolai
Projection Designer - David Murakami
Assistant Projection Designer - Sam Clevenger
Hair and Makeup Artist - Angela Santori Merritt
Photographer - Jessica Sherman Photography
Graphic Design
- Katelyn Schiller

Reviews

Paul Myrvold's Theatre Notes

Denim Doves, written by Adrienne Dawes, is billed in the Sacred Fools press release as a "feminist farce (with music)," an apt enough description, but the show goes wildly beyond that. It is a scrumptious, in-your-face satire that might make its ancestors, Beyond the Fringe and Monty Python, green with envy. Denim Doves is spiced with rudeness and a fearless use of language, all powered by an extraordinarily dedicated cast of players who, under the demanding direction of Rosie Glen-Lambert, throw caution to the wind, playing with balls-to-the-wall foolhardiness in a damn-the-torpedoes, swing-for-the-fences dedication.

The storyline merits the term farce with a plotline that has a whiff of The Handmaid's Tale. It features many silly rituals hilariously taken very seriously by the characters. Its comic religiosity may very well offend some people. In a time not-now, in a "modest compound nestled in the woods," five sister wives (Janellen Steininger, Meg Cashel, Jennie Kwan, Lana Rae Jarvis, and Teri Gamble), all garbed entirely in denim down to their skivvies and with hairdos braided down their backs, perform ceremonies centered around their male leader, Penis (Corey Walter Johnson), a feckless man-child who has no notion of the actual function of sexual congress, even though he is supposed to get children by each one of his wives. His nephew, First Son (Tyler Bremer) is even more of an infant than his uncle, his "room" consisting of a giant crib. He is demanding and whiney, clinging to his mother, First Wife (Ms. Steininger), demanding food and crawling into bed with her. The little compound is under the rule of the Prophet (Miss Barbie-Q, who also serves as Interpreter 1 for the audience), a demanding, unseen ruler who keeps tabs on the various flocks with electronic snoopers that monitor the activities of the innately unruly females. Screens that hang above the stage display instructions and report any non-compliance. Eventually an infant does come into the compound. She grows up to be Joan (Angelique Maurnae, who doubles as Interpreter 2).

A wild card shows up in the person of Sixth Wife (Evangeline Crittenden). Tall, with punkish blond hair, she upsets whatever tranquility prevailed in the cloister leading to Prophet intervention, crisis, climax and denoument.

There is quite a lot of music in the show with lyrics by Cyndi Williams, original music and arrangements by Ellen Warkentine (including adaptations of music by Erik Seacrest). Each audience member is given a kind of hymnal or prayer book and is encouraged to participate in some of the early songs. Indeed, there is quite a bit of audience/cast interaction, with the players roaming up the stairs and engaging individuals with banter and more. I myself had to put down my pencil and shake hands with a character. I felt blessed in an odd way. And there is a lot of vigorous, hilarious dancing choreographed by Darla MacDonald. Denim Doves is well served by a creative staff that includes scenic designer Lex Gernon, lighting designer Joey Guthman, costume designer Rebecca Carr, sound designer Lily Sorenson, projection designer David Murakami and assistant projection designer Sam Clevenger, prop designer Lisa Anne Nicolai, fight choreographer Laura Napoli and hair and makeup artist Angela Santori Merritt.

--Paul Myrvold
Ⓒ 2018 Paul Myrvold's Theatre Notes

Interview

Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative

The FPI Files: "Fiery Feminism" and Comedy Collaborate in DENIM DOVES

In our current political climate, we need theatre more than ever. Theatre can reflect the challenges of our current reality or it can invite audiences to escape it.

Let's hear from artists who seem to find a way to do both, like playwright Adrienne Dawes and director Rosie Glen-Lambert, in Denim Doves produced by Sacred Fools, playing January 19 - February 17, 2018 at the Broadwater Mainstage.

LA FPI: What inspired this piece?

Adrienne Dawes: Denim Doves began as a devised piece with Salvage Vanguard Theater in Austin, TX. We started building the play around the summer of 2013, around the time of the Wendy Davis filibuster. It was a gross sort of spectator sport to watch Democratic senators try for nearly 13 hours to block a bill that would have implemented some of the most stringent abortion restrictions in the country. My friends and I felt so incredibly angry... We poured all those feelings, all that "fiery feminist rage," into creating a new piece.

We knew we couldn't just scream at an audience for 75 minutes, so very early in the process, we played within comedic structures. How could we sneak very serious conversations into very silly premises? Dick jokes became the sort of "Trojan Horse" into talking about intersectional feminism, fluid identities and an oppressive government that considers female bodies as a commodity. We drew inspiration from Margaret Atwood's novel "The Handmaid's Tale", Suzette Haden Elgin's novel "Native Tongue" (specifically for her use of the feminist language Laadan), YouTube videos of hand bell choirs, and finger tutting choreography.

LA FPI: Rosie, what attracted you to directing this play?

Rosie Glen-Lambert: I am always on the hunt to direct work that gives a voice to women, queer folk, non-binary folk, people of color and anyone who feels like their "type" isn't typically represented in casting ads.

But beyond providing a platform to diverse performers, I have a particular attraction to plays that allow anyone besides white men to be "the funny one." I believe wholeheartedly in the power of comedy. I think it's a great way to unpack an issue that is challenging or to permeate a hard, un-listening exterior.

LA FPI: How does music play a role in this piece?

Adrienne: Denim Doves is more of a "play with music" than musical. There are specific musical moments that scratch the surface and reveal the darker, more sinister aspects of this world. Cyndi Williams is an amazing performer, playwright and lyricist who was part of the original devising team (she originated the role of First Wife). Cyndi's writing is incredibly rich and unique. She brings a very serious, Southern Gothic quality that gives us a nice contrast to the lighter, bawdy stuff I bring. Erik Secrest composed the original score (and originated the role of First Son) that was performed by the original cast with church hand bells, the electric guitar and a drum kit that was hidden in plain sight onstage.

For the LA production, Sacred Fools collaborated with composer Ellen Warkentine to develop new music. It was wild to hear those old songs in a completely different way. I hope to find more opportunities to collaborate with female composers in the future.

LA FPI: We love supporting femme-centric projects. What has this experience been like, working with a female majority including writer, director, cast and crew?

Rosie: An unbelievable privilege. Here's the thing: I believe wholeheartedly that gender is a construct. I believe that men can be soft and compassionate and women can be strong and authoritative. I believe that anyone, regardless of where they fall on the gender spectrum, has the ability to behave in any manner they choose; that how you identify or what you were assigned at birth is not the determining factor in your behavior.

With that being said, many women and femmes are socialized in such a way where they are often allowed to be softer and more empathetic, where men tend to be socialized to disconnect from emotion and consider those qualities as weak. This means that a rehearsal room that is full of women and femmes is often a room that is full of people who are willing to tap into emotion and create a space that is safe and welcoming. A room where someone can say "actually I don't think my body is capable of doing what you are describing" and rather than a room of people rolling their eyes and a caff'd up male director yelling "just do it," the team is able to slow down, consider this person's perspective, and enthusiastically find a solution.

I think that we as humans are all capable of working in this manner, and I believe that by allowing women and femmes to lead by example men are changing their perspective on what a theatrical process should look like.

Adrienne: I was absent for much of the rehearsal process (I'm currently living in Tulsa, OK for a writing residency) but I can say that the rehearsal rooms and processes where I felt I made the most sense have always been led by women+ and people of color. Those are the rooms where I feel like I belong, where I feel like all my differences (all the many ways I am different) are seen as strengths. It's a huge relief to feel safe and like my voice can be heard without having to yell over another person. In most rooms, it feels like a fight for survival, a fight to belong or to prove yourself. I prefer a room where I feel like my voice is needed and valued.

LA FPI: Amidst today's politics, what would you like audiences to take away with them?

Rosie: The art that has come out of this past year reflects our national desire to unpack and discuss this past election, and our political climate. This desire is constant, and yet it is exhausting. People who are protected by privilege are able to, at times, disconnect from the insanity and say "I feel overwhelmed, I don't want to be sad anymore." And while that is a natural inclination, not everyone is able to make the choice to tap out. Those whose bodies are inherently politicized are never allowed a day off; they are never able to just not be black, or trans, or latinx, or a woman for the day. I believe that this play in particular - which begins farcically, raucously, and which, full disclosure, is just plain riddled with dick jokes - has the potential to trick someone who would never seek out something as serious as the "Handmaid's Tale" and make them reflect on their privilege and invigorate them to recommitting themselves to a more active dedication to social change. I want people to get in their cars, drive home, kick off their shoes, and wonder if what they are doing is enough.

Adrienne: I hope we can make audiences laugh. I hope to give audiences some relief, some escape from the trash fire that is our current political climate. I also hope that even inside this extremely absurd world, audiences recognize how harmful misogyny and strict gender-based rules/expectations are for everyone. Everyone is hurt, everyone is affected. We imagine a future rebellion that mirrors past resistance movements, one that is led by people of color and trans/queer/non-binary people.

--Desireé York
Ⓒ 2018 Los Angleles FPI

- Sacred Fools Company Member