We ask ourselves, “Why perform our work?” To have fun? Share? Raise money for benefits? Be discovered? Make a gift to the audience? Connect with a publisher, agent, promoter, or patron? Identify an audience? Build community? Create a happening? A salon? A media event? Raise consciousness, educate, politicize? Verbally publish? Get feedback, critiques, reviews? Test our reality? Set up a dialogue? Evoke? Analyze? Encourage others to write and perform their work? Express, communicate experience? Achieve synthesis of sensory and intellectual elements of work? Overcome stage fright? Indulge dramatic propensities? Create a new dramatic form? Have a sensual, aesthetic, literary experience? Provide a community experience among readers and audience? Give the work its best reading, interpretation, or performance? Change the world by giving flight to our voices, our experience, our lives? Many different ideals propel our work.
Having decided to perform, why do it the Mothertongue way? Why feminist? — Because we self-identify as women working for respect and equality for all women and consider feminist process the most powerful way to channel our rage, our values, and our creativity. Why theater? — Because the stories of our lives are inherently dramatic and easily lend themselves to expression and communication in a theater format. Why a collective and why open? — Because we believe in the authenticity .and importance of every woman’s life experience and choose to remain open to all self-defined feminists across class, color, racial, ethnic, age, sexual orientation, and cultural lines. Why readers’ theater? — because all of us can read or tell our stories with or without writing and acting abilities, so our grassroots process is one of skill-sharing, growth, and self-empowerment.
In response to the many times we had been asked, “Can you show us how to do Mothertongue?” Mothertongue decided to create a formal document composed of some of the materials we have developed over the years, some of our imagination, and a lot of hard work by the many members involved. The handbook covers the why and how of feminist readers theater, including process, product, visions and much more. It is available to view and download here.Download Handbook