The Wheaton Experience of PeaceWomen
Wow is the first word that comes to me from our PeaceWomen experience at Wheaton. Wow, was it fun! Wow, did we learn! Wow, we can’t wait to do it again!
My friend Clinton O’Dell sponsored us at Wheaton College in Norton, MA. That’s Clinton and me watching auditions above. Wheaton is a small, beautiful college. We were given lovely living quarters in Austin House, a Bauhaus design, sprawling and gorgeous house. In the middle of a lush forest, we were surrounded by full-length glass walls giving us a soothing view. We were totally comfortable.
The first day we tore off to campus to do all the photocopying needed to prepare for our auditions. That Monday was the first day after Spring Break ended. Students were just getting back into the swing of things and we ended up with one student for our auditions! A little scary, but he seeded the process. Lesson learned: don’t go right after break!
We were generously invited to teach in Intermediate Acting by Elise Morrison, the visiting Brown graduate student who was covering the class for their usual professor who was out on maternity leave. Elise was so enthusiastic. Sheriden opened the 80 minute class with a Viewpoints exercise, got the students moving, and then we waltzed into the Cold Readings instruction we’d planned.
The newbie actors took to it like ducks to water. Eventually, we handed out the scripts for PeaceWomen. The students read just the first few paragraphs of each and they were hooked! Couldn’t wait to sign up and be in the reading. Saved … or so we thought, but we still didn’t have the full complement of peace women we needed.
I asked Professor David Fox who is directing The Pillowman if he’d play Jody Williams. It meant he had to cancel his rehearsal—which he did!! That freed up two more actors and we were cast. Whew. One of the coolest things about the show is that we cast it color-, gender-, and age-blind.
One major bit of learning: plan, oh yes, plan, and then let go, let go, let go. Spirit had something much better in mind than we did. Besides, we love to have undergrads as well as professors, staff and grad students participate in PeaceWomen.
That afternoon we saw as many of the cast as we could for 20 minute rehearsals. Then we blew home to change and come to do our evening presentations. Sheriden was going to teach Viewpoints more in depth. I was going to speak on Rhetoric and the Practice of Peace. We were reeling we were so tired.
So what happened? No one came, and were we relieved! Clinton said it best the next day. “What’s important is the reading.” He was right. The more people who are touched by a peace dialogue the better. Lesson learned—we’ll not be offering additional classes again. The work is PeaceWomen in itself.
The next day we all met for a group rehearsal and it went like clockwork. They’d all worked on their monologues the night before. They took direction beautifully. The audience loved it, and I did a swell talk-back afterward (so I got to give a mini-version of my lecture from the night before.)
We also found out that the Evelyn Danzig Haas ’39 Visiting Artists Program is quite the lah-di-dah! Guess who’s coming to Wheaton after PeaceWomen? Suzan-Lori Parks!
Not only that but I think we’ve got two more invitations to present PeaceWomen. How cool is that! If PeaceWomen belongs in your community, beloved, get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For spiritual nourishment, visit Dr. Susan Corso’s website and blog, Seeds for Sanctuary. Follow her on Twitter @PeaceCorso and Friend her on Facebook. And discover your own Inner Peace at, To Me Peace Is … What is Peace to You?