From Frances…

As part of the follow-up report for the V-Day campaign, I asked the cast to detail how the project impacted their lives (if they wished to contribute). Once again, these women blew me away. Their testimonials were so heartfelt and beautiful, I asked if I could share them. It’s easy to understand the positive impact that our fundraising had on our beneficiary organization, but it’s hard to grasp how the making of the actual production greatly influenced the lives of those involved.

Over the next few days I’ll be posting some of the cast testimonials, I encourage you to leave a comment. We’d love to hear your feedback! -Andrea
Frances’ Testimonial:
This project has impacted my life in so many ways. First, as a woman approaching her 60’s it’s a tremendous validation that aging is what you make of it. We all have choices, and no matter what stage of your life you’re approaching, we all have the ability, the capability to contribute to our society. This project has inspired me to continue to raise awareness of violence against women; despite the reproachful remarks I received from family members for participating in this show, they were moved by its message when they attended the performance.
Another impact this project has had on my life is that I now have a group of women whose passion, promise, and pride have instilled in me a renewed sense of purpose and drive. All doubts about my ability to perform (as an actor) have faded away and I am willing and able to get out and DO IT!
Perhaps the biggest impact this project has had on my life is to once again, realize the beauty and joy theater brings to our world. How the arts are such a viable part of the human existence. How we can transform a person’s existence with a blink of an eye, a flicker of hope, a message of love. It truly can change the world. After Saturday’s encore performance, a 76-year-old woman approached me with her walker. Anne Cunningham told me how The Flood was a telling reflection of how older women perceive their sexuality; in fact, she commented how the entire production provided an overview of Women, Womyn, Woman. She said that she started the first women’s rescue center in Staten Island in 1973 which remains opened to this day. As past a NOW president, she said, “We need to do MORE of this.”
In the same week we performed our show, a Bosnian soldier who ordered the rape and murder of Muslim men, boys, and women was captured and brought to justice at the Hague. A woman was raped by two NYC police officers. They were acquitted; however, they were fired by the force with no pension. The woman spoke out and encouraged other victims to step forward because she felt that the love and support she received from people, strangers who sent her messages of love served as her justice. We must remain alert and aware that the human condition is what we make of it and that we must be steadfast in our mission to end the violence.
The entire performance process was carefully planned and organized. Communication was candid, clear, and concise. The entire staff, but particularly, its director was organized; it was her artistic vision that brought us to a satisfying- beyond- one’s- imagination completion.
Technical tools such as her website, calendar, and emails allowed communication to be swift and direct. Rehearsals were planned out ahead of time; objectives were clearly stated; time allotment was structured to allow feedback, questions, and concerns from all cast members. Those who might have felt embarrassed to speak in front of the group for whatever reason were encouraged to speak to the director privately.
Rehearsals included viable preparations that not only allowed experimental exploration, but also a clear sense of purpose to each exercise. Time was never wasted, but there was always a feeling that we could connect at any given moment to a cathartic aha! Clearly, the director pored over the script and knew exactly what she wanted; yet, she was always sensitive to each member’s need and had the know-how and empathy to move each and every one of us to be our best.
Perhaps the most useful time was spent with the director in her apartment rehearsing the monologues in one-on-one sessions. This allowed for individual undivided attention as well as a shared opportunity to tap into each and every playwriting insight. This was when I realized the full potential of not only my abilities as an actor, but also the depth of my character’s voice, her need to tell, and the urgency with which she needed to speak her message for that day, in that time, for that moment.
There is so much more I can say about Andrea Bertola as the director and organizer of this project, but perhaps the most important quality is her clear sense of purpose. Her passion and commitment and belief in the goodness of the world and in each and every human being was palpable and served as its beacon for the cast, its audience, and for those victims whose voices cannot be heard.

Respectfully submitted,
Frances L. McGarry, Ph.D.
Theater Education Consultant
June 6, 2011