That Takes Ovaries: Bold Females and Their Brazen Acts
Bobbi Ausubel & Rivka Solomon
Re-Posted July 9, 2007
Editor's note: This approach seems to me to be partly in the spirit of sommunity-building and Playback Theatre; partly in the spirit of Women's Empowerment; and partly in the spirit of Theatre-inEducation. It shows how different approaches may reflect mixtures of themes and techniques.
That Takes Ovaries is a book, a play, an open mike movement, and an organizing tool for women and girls' empowerment. The book and play are a collection of true stories of occasions when women acted courageously. A variation of interactive theatre, our work
involves putting on a performance to warm up and inspire the audience, somewhat in the spirit of Theatre-in-Education, and then encouraging interactivity with the audience. The underlying method is storytelling. The audience-participatory story sharing is a joyous celebration of women's courage, and it takes place followig a reading of excerpts from the That Takes Ovaries book, or following the performance of the full play. Since 2002, we have used
this format at hundreds of venues around the globe,
organized and led by our staff leaders or by local women from the
We believe courage is contagious and risk-taking is infectious: We become more courageous ourselves as we hear about others’ bold acts. And the more risks we take individually, the bolder we become---and the bigger challenges we take both for ourselves and for others in our communities. That Takes Ovaries believes that each woman has been bold at some time in her life and sharing these true stories inspires the storyteller and the listeners to take new risks and to recognize the courageous acts that they have already done.
Website and Video
Details about our work may be found on our website www.thattakesovaries.org, which also offers a short video that shows our audience participatory event.
That Takes Ovaries!:
Bold Females and Their Brazen Acts, edited by Rivka Solomon and
published by Three Rivers/Random House, is an exciting
collection of real-life stories from women and girls about the gutsy,
outrageous, courageous things they have done. The book is jam-packed
with 64 multicultural, fun, sassy, touching true tales of
estrogen-powered deeds that range from playful to political, including
women fighting for their human rights. The book is coupled with an open
mike movement for women and girls' empowerment.
The play, That Takes Ovaries, adapted from the book by Rivka Solomon and Bobbi Ausubel, is based on the book. Full productions and staged readings have been done in theaters and at university campuses in the US, Canada, Australia, and India. Often following the play, the audience participates by coming on stage to the microphone, and, in the spirit of the play, sharing their own personal "ovarian" stories. The audience applauds and cheers them on, sometimes crying with them if the stories are triumphant but sad.
The Open Mike Movement
That Takes Ovaries is a unique initiative (and a nonprofit organization) that mixes the arts with activism for women and girls' empowerment. Since 2002, hundreds of That Takes Ovaries open mikes have been held around the globe, either led by our staff or organized and led by local women in their own community -- women like you! At an Ovaries open mike a few selected stories from the book or the play are read and/or enacted rather than the whole play being performed. Following these inspiring tales, gutsy gals from the audience are ready to share stories about times they acted boldly. Guys brag about the "ovaries" in their lives (i.e., their mothers, sisters, daughters, wives). Everyone who shares gets a chocolate egg wrapped in gold foil -- a Golden Ovary award. Many events are fundraisers for local girls' groups and groups working to end human rights abuses against girls. The open mike Guidelines and Registration (registration is required) are found at http://www.thattakesovaries.org/ . To invite our staff to speak at or lead an event contact Info@thattakesovaries.org. There is a small fee to hold your own That Takes Ovaries Open Mike. Reminder: You must register first!
Participants' Quotes from our Open Mike Sessions
Ankeny, IOWA At our open mike, we had a woman who came who stopped a moving car that her kids were inside, and a woman who at age nine not only outwitted a rapist, but designed a plot so that the police could catch him! It was a great evening, and we awarded each other a Golden Ovaries award -- round gold-wrapped Rocher candies
Gilroy, farm belt of CA, "Garlic Capital of the World” I attended this event which was organized and run by a restaurant owner and held in her restaurant. About fifty women came, most Latina farm workers. In Spanish, Chicana women came up to the front to tell their stories of courage: raising kids on their own, staying with and then leaving abusive fathers, the hardship of coming to the U.S. from their homelands. Women laughed and several had red-stained eyes from crying. It went on one hour longer than it was supposed to. Women just kept coming up and coming up to share their stories.
Calcutta, INDIA The Ovaries event finally happened tonight in Calcutta, India. As people walked in they saw on the walls the colorful banners with the ovaries adjectives that I had made: "gutsy," "brazen," "outrageous," "unstoppable." Our next open mike, next week, will be part of the annual Fortnight Protesting Violence Against Women and Girls. It is a public event and sponsored/hosted by some key organizations in Calcutta that work to empower women. Good news! Calcutta's leading confectioner agreed to make, even donate, twenty special Golden Ovaries – large, chocolate eggs covered with golden foil. We shall present all those who share stories with one Golden Ovary award.
Washington DC A local conservation leader MC-ed and sixty-eight women and men shared stories that celebrated Jewish women's chutzpah. Two actresses from the Jewish theater read stories. A younger woman talked about stopping homophobia in her Jewish summer camp. A wildlife biologist unexpectedly met up with the most poisonous snake in the region she was visiting. Her first thought? Cooooooool!
Seattle, WA One Lebanese women told how she left Lebanon when she was fourteen, sneaking out all alone, leaving her mother a letter under her bed, and going off to England where she got a job. A man said it was so encouraging and inspiring to know what wonderful, brave things these women had done. He shared that he was a victim of sexual abuse as a young child: "I was obligated to get up there and share and let all these women know how much their stories and courage meant to me."
San Francisco, CA A sixteen year old shared a story about talking back to catcallers. Another told one of thwarting a robbery! Someone told how she sprayed paint over swastikas in Assisi, Italy after several requests asking the town to remove them did not materialize. A crowd of men watched her and clapped when she finished spray painting.
Boston, MA It was the teens' graduation ceremony from the Teen Voices mentoring/leadership/editing the magazine program. As part of the graduation ceremony, three teens read stories from the book. The teens, all African American and Latinas were thirteen to fifteen years old.