Tag Archives: women’s

KRASS joins Bartell Theatre groups

The performance companies sharing Madison’s Bartell Theatre have a new companion set to join them in 2016: Kathie Rasmussen Women’s Theatre, a formerly itinerant company that will likely use its new home to enhance its reputation in Madison’s theater community.

“Short of our actual founding this is the next important step for us, being at the Bartell,” says cofounder and artistic director Jan Levine Thal. “It’s great to be with other companies whose work we admire.”

The troupe was founded in 2009 as “a theater for smart women” and is commonly referred to by its followers by the portmanteau “KRASS.” There’s nothing “crass” about KRASS, though, according to playwright Marcia Jablonski, whose world-premiere play Rumors of Truth will be the company’s first production as a Bartell member theater. 

“(KRASS) is an extremely professional group of dedicated theater creators,” says Jablonski. “At the first production meeting, Sarah Whelan (the director of Rumors of Truth) would express an opinion that I was thinking — as if she was reading my mind. It’s been a collaborative experience that I’ve enjoyed.”

The group’s namesake, Kathie Rasmussen, was a performer and playwright who was a veteran of Madison’s Mercury Players and Broom Street Theater. Rasmussen met Levine Thal when the two worked for the now-defunct Feminist Voices newspaper, and helped her lay the groundwork for the company along with Heather Renkin and Ben Emerich. (Rasmussen was unable to see the company come to fruition, dying in 2007, but the company now memorializes her in its name.)

Levine Thal says the company was designed to be informed by the feminist movement of the 1960s and ’70s, but not defined by it — instead choosing which works to produce with an implicit and organic mindset.

“Kathie and I both went through our bra-burning stage,” she recalls. At the time, “we felt there was a lot of pressure on women to write material that would be appropriate for consciousness-raising. It’s not that we don’t want to do that, but we don’t demand that women have to write about a certain theme, and we don’t demand that women have to direct a certain way.”

It can be a delicate balance, and KRASS’ dramatic imperative is perhaps best made clear by contrast. For example, Levine Thal says, “If you are a male playwright and you bring your work to a contest or a workshop or something, nobody says, ‘Well, it has to have a certain kind of content or we aren’t going to take it.’” In the same fashion, she says, KRASS doesn’t look for a certain kind of work from female writers. “Today I feel that it’s a feminist project when women write about anything they god damn well want to.”

KRASS takes a step forward at a time when the gender disparity in the theater world is more apparent. Nationwide, she says, women represent about 15 percent of the playwrights whose works are produced and, excluding children’s theater, only 15 percent of directors are women.

Levine Thal attributes the company’s survival to the support of fellow theater artists and advocates in the area. For the first few years, TAPIT/new works Ensemble Theater shared its space with KRASS for both rehearsals and performances. “We wouldn’t exist without them,” she says. The company also received support from Arts Wisconsin, a statewide nonprofit, and their new Bartell neighbors Mercury Players Theatre.

“To be able to draw on that, to pick people’s brains and offer what we have to offer in return, feels like true artistic collaboration,” says Levine Thal. “Everyone’s doing their own project, but you find that people are still willing to help you.”

Playwright Jablonski agrees. “Jan is great at getting together a team of people who are serious at making the best theater experience,” she says.

Jablonski’s team for Rumors of Truth will have to take on a mix of funny and heavy material. The play portrays three sisters who meet at their mother’s grave on her 50th birthday, and the reminiscences that turn quickly into confrontations.

The story was partly inspired, she says, by studies that show “the clearer you remember something, the less chance it happened that way.”

Rumors of Truth comically explores the complications of the relationships between three sisters caused by unspoken truths and downright lies that occurred within their family,” Jablonski explains. “Through the revelations discovered during the course of the play, they each have to ultimately decide what’s more important: to hang on to old beliefs or to forge ahead and take the risk of forgiveness.”

A veteran of the Second City Players’ Workshop, Jablonski is based in Mineral Point. Her works have been produced and had readings regionally and off-Broadway, where Rumors of Truth enjoyed a staged reading at Urban Stages Theater in 2013.


Rumors of Truth will be presented Jan. 29 to Feb. 6 at the Bartell Theatre, 113 E. Mifflin St. Tickets are $20 with discounts available Feb. 3 and at “Sisters Night,” Feb. 4, which also includes a prize drawing. To order tickets, call 608-661-9696 or visit either bartelltheatre.org or krasstheatre.com.

Federal court blocks enforcement of Louisiana anti-abortion law

A Louisiana state law intended to close abortion clinics across the state will not be enforced on Sept. 1, according to a federal district court ruling issued over the weekend.

Louisiana health care providers filed a suit in federal district court in Baton Rouge last week seeking an immediate injunction against House Bill 388, which requires a doctor who provides abortion care to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital. With the federal decision, physicians providing abortion services will not be forced to comply with the law if they are in the process of applying for hospital admitting privileges.

Admitting privileges requirements were pushed around the country, including in Wisconsin, by anti-choice politicians. Yet, studies show that admitting privileges provide no increased benefits for the fewer than 1 percent of abortion patients who experience complications. Also, privileges can often be impossible to obtain due to individual hospital policies or biases toward abortion providers for reasons not related to the doctors’ qualifications.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the federal ruling “ensures Louisiana women are safe from an underhanded law that seeks to strip them of their health and rights. Politicians cannot be given free rein to lie about their motives without recourse, and expect women and their families to pay the consequences.”

She continued, “As the flimsy façade of these laws grows thinner by the day, we continue to look to the courts to uphold the Constitution and protect access to safe and legal abortion for all women regardless of where they happen to live.”

Ilene Jaroslaw of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Demme Doufekias of Morrison & Foerster and William E. Rittenberg of Rittenberg, Samuel, and Phillips, LLC represent Hope Medical Group for Women, Causeway Medical Clinic and Bossier City Medical Suite in the legal challenge to the Louisiana law.

If the law had been put into effect on Sept. 1, at least three of the state’s five clinics would have been forced to stop providing abortion services or close.

Cher gives shout-out to voters in Madison in political video with Kathy Griffin

Cher and Kathy Griffin have teamed up with Actually.org to make a video titled “Don’t let Mitt turn back time on women.” The video emphasizes outlandish GOP attitudes toward women and  the views of leading candidates about rape. It also addresses LGBT voters.

Cher gives a shout-out to voters in Madison and cities in other swing states, urging them to think about women’s health, safety and fairness when they go to the polls.

Sarah Silverman, Rosie Perez and other celebrities have participated in the project.

View the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqweEbPZzPE.

Thousands to protest in Charlotte before Democratic convention

Organizers of the March on Wall Street South expect thousands to participate in the demonstration on Sunday in Charlotte, N.C., just days before the start of the Democratic National Convention.

The march assembly begins at 11 a.m. in Charlotte’s Frazier Park on Sept. 2. The convention begins on Sept. 4, but delegates and press, along with the protesters, already are arriving.

Organizers with the Coalition to March on Wall Street South – Building People’s Power at the Democratic National Convention have been preparing for the march and other actions for about 10 months. The coalition involves more than 80 organizations. A news release said they “have united to form this unprecedented, grassroots coalition representing countless struggles – including labor, civil rights, immigrants rights, the student and youth movement, the women’s movement, the LGBTQ movement, the anti-war movement, the environmental movement, as well as the Occupy movement.”

The coalition’s demands, as stated on the Web, are:

• Good jobs. Economic justice. “Make the banks and corporations pay for their crisis!”

• Investment in education, health care, housing and “all human needs, not for war and incarceration!”

• Justice for immigrants and “all oppressed peoples! Stop the raids and deportations!”

Marchers will begin walking about 1 p.m., passing the headquarters for Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Duke Energy. They’ll also pass by the Time Warner Cable Arena, where the convention takes place on Sept. 4-5, and the Bank of America Stadium, where the convention concludes on Sept. 6 with Barack Obama’s speech.

Organizers secured permits for the march after eight months of work and a petition drive demanding the right to march.

A rally at Frazier Park will follow the march. Speakers include:

• Cindy Foster, president of the Southern Piedmont Central Labor Council.

• A representative of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee.

• Jaribu Hill of the Mississippi Workers Center.

• Saladin Muhammad of the Southern Workers Assembly and Black Workers for Justice.

• A representative from the Undocubus.

• John Heuer of Veterans for Peace.

• Monica Embrey of Greenpeace.

• Larry Hales of Peoples Power Assemblies.

• Jared Hamil of the Coalition to March on the RNC.

• The Rev. C.D. Witherspoon of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

• Victor Toro of the May 1 Coalition for Worker and Immigrants Rights.

• Marilyn Levin of the United National Antiwar Coalition.

The entertainment lineup for the rally includes Jasiri X and Rebel Diaz, the Fruit of Labor Singing Ensemble, Cameron Aviles, a step team and drum corps from the Grier Heights community in Charlotte, a samba-infused drum corps from Greensboro called Cakalak Thunder and the National Day Labor Organizing Network’s string band.