2023 LAWTF Festival Performer

  • Meg Lin; Writer, Performer

    Meg Lin, writer/performer of “What Am I, Chopped Suey?” on the inspiration for her show and identity struggles. 

    Usually, women’s solo performance work is intentional and often passionate. In speaking with Meg Lin, I wondered what incident, experience, or insight inspired her to create her show. 

    “The biggest influence in my life was my mom who struggled with paranoid schizophrenia. I grew up in a traditional Chinese-American family in the ‘80s and ‘90s when mental wellness was not talked about. There weren’t many resources back then, but a lot of public shame and unknowns. I struggled with trying to hide the trauma and yet survive and understand what was happening to my family. Why me? 

    “In the midst of it all, I was growing up not being white in America. I was raised in a Los Angeles suburb and a lot of people would think, ‘Oh, then you fit in.’ 

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  • Lynne Jassem; Writer, Performer

    Lynne Jassem, writer/performer of “Being Richard Greene” on gender identity.

    Lynne and I caught up on the phone recently while she was out walking her dog.

    I asked if there was a particular incident that inspired her show, “Being Richard Greene.” 

    In her robust New York accent, she said, “It wasn’t an incident, it was a way of being. I had gender confusion for a lot of my life. In 1949, when I was three years old walking with my mother down Main Street in Queens, I saw a woman dressed like a man. 

    “I said, ‘Mommy, mommy, that’s what I want to be!’ That’s how my show starts. From there we go through all the different decades and experiences, good and bad, centered around this issue. 

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  • Vannia Ibarguen; Choreographer, Performer

    Vannia Ibarguen, choreographer/performer of Andean Triptych, on speaking up, fitting in, and standing out

    Vannia and I had a conversation recently, and I asked her, “Solo pieces are often passionate. What inspired what you’re presenting?” 

    Vannia has a direct, simple way of communicating, and pulls her artistic inspiration from everyday heroes and those seeking to understand their identities more deeply. 

    She said, “Andean Triptych was originally three dance pieces that came together. The idea was to portray how different cultures clash, especially in South America.

    “I’ll be showcasing two of those three pieces at the Festival, but I’ll describe all of them. 

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  • Barbara Brownell; Writer, Performer

    Barbara Brownell, writer/performer of Finding My Light, Finding Me, on the family secret

    I asked Barbara what incident inspired her show.

    In her even, resonant voice, she said, “I was at my father Arnie Brownell’s funeral. My cousin came up to me and said that it was really nice of my dad to ‘adopt’ me. 

    “That was a complete shock. I wondered what in the world made him think that.

    “Then I remembered when I was just five years old, my grandmother had told me that my mom had cheated on my dad and that Arnie was not my father. 


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  • Joyful Raven; Writer, Performer

    Joyful Raven, writer/performer of “Breed or Bust,” on having a deeper conversation about motherhood and choice.

    I asked Joyful what inspired her piece.

    “My piece is about a woman’s right to choose. And to be honest it was the abortion I had that inspired me. It’s been percolating in my system for five years. 

    “I noticed how often in society as a grownup woman I was in the midst of people talking about their fertility, babies, and childbirth and I often fell silent. I was unable to speak about my experiences with pregnancy and fertility because it was a taboo subject.” 

    She confided, “I also have a strange compulsion as a closeted stand-up comedian to say the thing that shouldn’t be said. I wanted to know myself better and to understand why I’d made the decisions I’d made and how they were affected by the society I was in and the company that I kept.

    “Often times ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Both are completely entrenched in their perspective. 

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  • Alina Cenal; Writer, Performer

    Alina Cenal, writer/performer of “Cuba: My Return” on connection, disconnection, and what inspired her to create her piece

    “When you tell stories in the theatre, you go back into memory. You revisit your memories, not to live in the past but to keep memories alive. It gives the audience a heart-to-heart experience.

    “We’ve all got stories. We’ve got to voice them and keep telling them. Especially for the next generation. Know your roots. 

    “I was raised here but born in Cuba. For my entire life, I was not allowed back. But my Cuban root was pulling me and I yearned to visit my motherland. Finally, in 2015 because of Obama, I was able to go. 

    “I found my people, my house, my nanny, and my motherland. I met the people of my country who’d never been to the US and saw how much we still have in common.

    “Now I also teach children’s theater, and I see disconnection showing up with the kids who are stuck on their phones. I have one grandson who’s gone down a bad route on the internet. It’s disturbing. Some of the damage is out of control. 

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  • Dee Freeman; Writer, Performer

    Dee Freeman, writer/performer of Poison Gun, on the incident that changed her life

    I asked Dee what inspired her piece.

    “At four years old, I had an idyllic life with five brothers and two sisters on a 100-acre farm in Louisiana. One and a half miles down the road was my best friend, my grandfather Archie, and his wife. My life was centered around our two farms. 

    “Now, my grandfather was a Moonshiner who hid his money on his farm. He’d noticed I was great at math. Archie was legally blind and at the age of four, I became my grandfather’s eyes. He didn’t trust banks or most people; he trusted a 4-year-old child. He prepared me to become his banker. 

    “The show deals with the incident that blew my whole world apart.”

    Almost as an aside, Dee said, “I didn’t want to tell this story. 

    “I saw that the actor/director Juliette Jeffers was offering a solo workshop. I thought, ‘Oh, I’ve got two kids who are biracial and my husband is white, so I’ll go in and do a piece about the fact that they ain’t got no rhythm.” I laughed. 

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  • Morgana Shaw, Performer

    Morgana Shaw, performer of “All About Bette Davis” on what inspired her performance.

    “When I walked into clubs during college, people used to play “She’s Got Bette Davis Eyes.” I loved it though I didn’t know at that time I was going to be an actress. I was dancing at a dance company. 

    “Camilla Carr wrote this fantastic one-woman show about Bette Davis while she was researching her. When I was doing regional theatre in Dallas, it was brought to me by that theatre’s director. He said, ‘I think this is a project you should look at.’ That was the beginning. 

    “When you’re offered a role that someone else wrote, you never know if you’re exactly what that writer was looking for. What if she didn’t think I was right to do Bette?

    “I met Camilla and we immediately fell in love with everything about each other. 

    “When I read the script, the hairs literally stood up on my arms. I knew it could be life-changing because it was that good. You just don’t get opportunities to go through all of the emotions – happy, sad, glorious, shocking – and it’s all here. 

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  • Bellina Logan; Writer, Performer

    Bellina Logan, writer/performer of “Confessions of A Mulatto Love Child” on the inspiration for her show.

    “I was raised by a very colorful, very English storytelling mother.

    “And then she got Alzheimer’s. After spending my whole life hearing her stories, I found myself becoming the storyteller for my mom. I kept her life alive for her and kept myself alive for her too.

    “When I was still taking care of her, I thought, ‘I would love to have a night off just to laugh and be irreverent and then not worry about what it means.”

    “When people would come and see my show, it would give me great happiness and pleasure. People going through exactly what I had gone through came up and said, ‘Thank you, I needed a night to not apologize for laughing at the ridiculousness of my heartache.’ Others have said, ‘I really want to meet your mother!’

    “What I’m showing at LAWTF is the first 30 minutes, just the beginning of the journey.

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  • Juliette Jeffers; Writer, Performer

    Juliette Jeffers, writer/performer of “Judgment Day” on black people, the police, and God

    “Does God have something against black people and what do we do about that? 

    “The idea for “Judgment Day” came to me a few years ago when Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were murdered by different policemen within the same week.

    “It angered me, it made me sad, and it made me ask, ‘OK, why does this keep happening? I don’t see it changing and it doesn’t look good.”

    “For those of us who believe in a higher being or the Universe, that question was my motivation. 

    “After George Floyd, what shifted was awareness. Black people have known that this has been happening in our communities all along. Others might not have. George Floyd’s murder really put it in everybody’s faces during a pandemic that forced us to be still. Then we were forced to pay attention. 

    “With this piece, I want to spark conversation and awareness just as George Floyd’s murder did.

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