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Talking with ...

Women's voices get the spotlight with 11 illuminating monologues

Eleven women share their lives in Talking With ... . Photo credit: The Changing Scene Theatre Northwest

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There's a great, but little-seen movie called Nine Lives, which features nine short films about women. The hook of the movie is that each short film is shot in one long take, which might seem like a stunt, but it ultimately grants you more intimate access to the lives of the women being portrayed. By virtue of the fact that these shorts are all shot in one go, they end up feeling like stage plays. Every short, whether joyous or suffused with sadness, captures the most delicate moments of each of these women's lives, giving the viewer a look at these people at their most vulnerable.

Though Nine Lives was produced over 20 years later, another piece of monologic fiction came to theaters in the form of Talking With ..., a play that assembles 11 ten-minute monologues, each from the point of view of a woman. Just like with Nine Lives, though, Talking With ... balances heartbreaking, slice-of-life snapshots, and semi-comic explorations.

Written by Jane Martin - the pen name of a playwright whose true identity is still a mystery - Talking With ... is being put up by the Changing Scene Theatre Northwest, as part of a fringe extension of Tacoma Musical Playhouse. The shows will be performed at what TMP has dubbed The Spire, formerly the Epworth LeSourd United Methodist Church at 710 S. Anderson St. Staging Talking With ... in an ornate building like The Spire should lend a lofty weight to the personal lives of the women being highlighted.

These 11 monologues run the gamut of human experiences, exploring universal truths and incredibly specific struggles. The monologues are given life by a diverse group of actresses from around the Puget Sound, including Mary McDowell, Ashley Roy, Aya Hashiguchi-Clark, Madalyn Banouvong, Jill Heinecke, Pavlina Morris, Karen Hauser, Skye Gibbs, Liz Favreau, Mary Sheehan and Shawna Fancher, with Morris also directing.

It may go without saying that putting up Talking With ... at this time in our country is making a bit of a statement. Women's voices have always been aching for more of a spotlight, but there's a heightened need for it now, when the nation is on fire and resistance is hanging in the air. A fundamentally humane play like this one can function like a vaccine for intolerance and a plea for unity. Nothing brings people together like the very simple act of puncturing the membrane of separation and shining a light on the fact that we're all, at heart, the same.

The Changing Scene Theatre Northwest's brief, two-week run of Talking With ... is one that shouldn't be missed - if, for no other reason, than the unique joy of seeing a play in an offbeat setting like The Spire. Getting out of what can sometimes be the intimidating experience of seeing live theater is an invigorating thing, and it's one that everyone should have at least once. Fringe theater productions like this one are privileges that not every city gets to have, so come out in full force, Tacoma!

Talking With ..., 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, through May 27; 2 p.m., Sunday, May 21, The Spire, 710 S. Anderson St., $18 presale, $20 at the door, 253.565.6867, tmp.org

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