Updated: Aug 14, 2022
In honor of Women's History Month, Laura Yumi Snell, SoHo Shakes' Executive Director & Producer, and Mariela Rivero, an Associate Producer at SoHo Shakes, briefly chatted about their answers to three simple questions regarding women. We'd love for you to join the conversation and share YOUR responses in the comments section below!
What is it like being a woman theatre-maker today?
It’s an exciting time to be a woman theatre maker now because people are specifically seeking out our stories. Some of my favorite stories are written by women (like Kate Hamill and Leah Nanako Winkler), and we have some exciting collaborations coming up with an all women-writing team. I also feel like women are awesome multitaskers…so we can tell stories in exciting, multi-faceted, three-dimensional ways.
I haven’t been in the industry for too long, but what I can say is that most of the plays I’ve seen and studied throughout my training have been written by men. It’s exciting to see more and more female playwrights’ works being produced, as well as women in other positions - from directors to producers and artistic directors!
a) It’s time! Step aside, men! Actually, there’s room for all. It’s not a competition…but it is. ;-)
b) Until recently, most shows were written, directed, performed by men. So it’s refreshing to see a wave of efforts to elevate the voices of us non-men creatives!
Who are your favorite women artists?
I love Yayoi Kusama! She’s so bizarre & totally owns her oddness. She lives in a mental institution in Japan by choice! I just think it’s so rare, especially for a Japanese person, to take charge of their mental health and channel their challenging circumstances into their art. From the Mattress Factory interactive gallery to the Botanical Gardens, all of her exhibitions feel so playful and magical and surreal. I feel like all of us artists are a little bit wacky…and she helps me feel proud to have a creative brain that wants to take off into a million different places. Obviously, I love Kate Hamill for her innovative, playful adaptations of classics like Sense & Sensibility. And Sutton Foster, a true triple-threat and amazing storyteller, and I love that her career started off as an understudy-turned-star!
My cousin! She’s a painter. And Kelly Hunter. She’s an actress who developed the Hunter Heartbeat Method, a type of drama therapy that uses Shakespeare to aid children with autism. I’ve never actually seen her perform, but I have been researching the H.H. Method for a while now and am so inspired by how she creatively applied her art. There are plenty more, but there’s only so much room here!
Who are some inspiring women in general & what they taught you?
I LOVE my mom. All moms are awesome, but my mom is especially fun. She loves to party (aka drink with her friends), she loves to stay up late and watch her favorite J-pop stars, and she loves music. I remember when I was growing up playing piano, I was practicing a piece called “The Wild Horseman,” and she taught me how to tell the story behind the music by prancing around the living room! And of course, my incredible piano teacher Mrs. Akiko Hasunuma (aka Hasumama) was a guide an inspiration through my life. She taught me how to live an artistic life, how to play with passion and to connect with audiences from moment to moment. I really think the piano training is what helps me understand the musicality of Shakespeare and why I love both so much!
My first cheer coach. She was tough on us and yet so loving at the same time. She didn’t take any nonsense. She pushed us to our limits and made us the best athletes we could be - on and off the court. She believed we were always stronger and more capable than we thought. And she always ensured we discovered that. Other inspiring women include my teachers, especially those who have let me teach beside them. Teaching has always been one of my greatest passions, and I’m so inspired by them. How they inspire their students, and those who give neverending love and support to each of them. If a students doesn’t understand an academic concept or isn’t behaving “as they should”, there’s a reason. And the teacher works with the student. The student is never “bad”. There is simply an “issue” that the teacher and student can join forces to overcome. And that applies so much to life. It encourages us to not be so quick to judge someone inept or a pest (etc.) and put others down. Rather, we uplift one another and shine light on their potential.
Written by Mariela Rivero and Laura Yumi Snell