Rhodessa Jones teaching a master class

Feminist Directions: Performance, Power, and Leadership

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Friday, March 15

2:30–3:45 p.m.: Human Sexuality Collection Tour with Curator Brenda J. Marston

(Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Carl A. Kroch Library)

The Human Sexuality Collection seeks to preserve and make accessible primary sources that document historical shifts in the social construction of sexuality, with a focus on U.S. lesbian and gay history and the politics of pornography.

4:00–5:30 p.m.: “Creative Survival: A Community Theater Workshop” (a master class workshop with Rhodessa Jones) 

(Room 322, Schwartz Center)

Rhodessa Jones will share experiences and methodologies for using theater as a tool for change in communities. 

5:30–7:00 p.m.: Dinner

(Schwartz Center Lobby)

7:00–9:00 p.m.: Bad and Nasty Cabaret

(Black Box Theatre, Schwartz Center)

Bad & Nasty (aka Bad Hombres and Nasty Women) is a loose-knit coalition of politically minded artists, activists, media makers, theatre folk, web geeks, designers, performers, writers, and concerned citizens. The cabaret will feature short vignettes from students, local community members, and the Bad & Nasty cohort.

The Bad and Nasty Cabaret will be hosted by the irreverent Sam Blake and features symposium guests Holly Hughes, Lois Weaver, Peggy Shaw, and Rhodessa Jones as well as artist/activists Godfrey L. Simmons Jr., Sue Perlgut, Saviana Stanescu, Leeny Sack, Alejandra Marie Diemecke, Yvonne Fisher, Allen Porterie, Holly Adams, and burgeoning feminist icon, Daphni Wilder!  

Saturday, March 16

10:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.: “Mentors, Methods, and Mutations: A Workshop on Feminist Cross-Pollination”

(Film Forum, Room 124, Green Room, Schwartz Center)

Invited participants discuss how their feminist mentors have shaped their current practices. Audience members are welcome.

Featuring: Heather Campbell (Ithaca Advocacy Centre), Sarah Chalmers (Civic Ensemble), J. Ellen Gainor (CU Performing & Media Arts), Carolyn Goelzer (CU Performing & Media Arts), Holly Hughes (University of Michigan), Jane Juffer (CU Feminist Gender Sexuality Studies), Kate McCullough (CU English), Dehanza Rogers (CU Performing & Media Arts), Leeny Sack (The Performative Self), Alanna Salwen (Planned Parenthood Generation Action), Anna Sims Bartel (CU Office of Engagement Initiatives), Saviana Stanescu Condeescu (Ithaca College), Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon (CU English)

12:00–1:00 p.m.: Lunch

(Green Room, Schwartz Center)

1:00–2:30 p.m.: “Feminist Directions” Roundtable Discussion

(Film Forum, Schwartz Center)

Tisa Chang (Pan Asian Repertory Theatre), Leigh Fondakowski (Tectonic Theatre Project), Rhodessa Jones (Cultural Odyssey), Bevin O'Gara (Kitchen Theatre), Sue Perlgut (It’s All Right To Be Woman Theatre, Senior Citizen Theatre Troupe), and Lois Weaver (Split Britches) discuss their directing histories, methodologies, and the ways in which feminism informs their directing practice.

2:30–3:00 p.m.: Break

3:00–4:30 p.m.: “(Directing) Through the Pan Asian Mirror” (a master class workshop with Tisa Chang)

(Black Box Theatre, Schwartz Center)

Through the lens of Shahid Nadeem’s play, Acquittal, Tisa Chang engages participants in a practice-based workshop on directing culturally specific work.

4:30–5:00 p.m.: Break

5:00 p.m.: The Long Table with Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw

(Room 322, Schwartz Center)

“A dinner party structured by etiquette, where conversation is the only course.”

The Long Table combines theatricality with models of public engagement into a highly stylized, non-hierarchical dinner table discussion.

6:30 p.m.: "Words on Fire" performed by Kate Guntermann

(Schwartz Center Plaza)

An electric fire-eating display by Baltimore-based performer, Kate Guntermann.


Tisa ChangTisa Chang has led the Pan Asian Repertory Theatre since its inception, promoting stories seldom told and voices seldom heard. She is a theatre professional with five decades of experience as an actor, dancer, and director. Highlights include: Sayonara; The Joy Luck Club; the epic play-with-music Cambodia Agonistes, which toured nationally and to Cairo and Johannesburg; Kwatz! The Tibetan Project; and Rashomon, which was invited to Havana Theatre Festival in 2003. She pioneered premieres, in English and Mandarin Chinese of the classic Peking opera, RETURN OF THE PHOENIX, and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM at La Mama ETC.

Leigh Fondakowski was the head writer of The Laramie Project, co-writer of Laramie: Ten Years Later, and an Emmy-nominated co-screenwriter for the film adaptation of Laramie with HBO Films. Her other original plays include SPILL, The People’s Temple, I Think I Like Girls, and Casa Cushman. Her plays have been produced under her direction at American Theater Company, Berkeley Repertory Theater, Encore Theater, Ensemble Studio Theater, The Guthrie Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, Perseverance Theater, Swine Palace, TimeLine Theater, and Z Space Studio. Leigh is a recipient of the NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights, a MacDowell Colony Fellow, a Yaddo Fellow, a Drama League Fellow, a New Georges Resident Artist, and a member of Tectonic Theater Project. She held a Distinguished Visiting Chair at the University of Minnesota in 2010 and is the author of the non-fiction book Stories from Jonestown, which she adapted to film. She teaches at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and Naropa University.  

Holly HughesHolly Hughes is a writer and performer. The author of Clit Notes: A Sapphic Sampler and co-editor of "O Solo Homo," "Animal Acts: Performing Species Today," and Memories of the Revolution: The First Ten Years of the WOW Café Theatre, she has been denounced on the floor of the Senate by Jesse Helms and has also received numerous awards, including two Village Voice Obies, numerous grants from the NEA, and a 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship. When she is not directing the BFA in Interarts Performance at Michigan, Hughes is running with her Norfolk terriers.

Rhodessa JonesRhodessa Jones is Co-Artistic Director of the San Francisco acclaimed performance company Cultural Odyssey. She is an actress, teacher, singer, and writer. Ms. Jones is also the Director of the award-winning Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women, which is a performance workshop that is designed to achieve personal and social transformation with incarcerated women and women living with HIV. Jones received the Theatre Practitioner Award presented by Theater Communications Group in 2015. The award recognizes “a living individual whose work in the American theatre has evidenced exemplary achievement over time and who has contributed significantly to the development of the larger field.” In 2016, she received a Theatre Bay Legacy Award presented to individuals that have made “extraordinary contributions to the Bay Area theatre community.” In 2017, Jones was named a Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth University. Additionally, Jones has been selected as a Frank H.T. Rhodes Class of 1956 Visiting Professor at Cornell University, commencing on July 1, 2017, for a period of three years.

Peggy ShawPeggy Shaw co-founded Split Britches and WOW in NYC. She is a veteran of Hot Peaches and Spiderwoman and has collaborated with Lois Weaver since 1980. Peggy was born in Belmont, Massachusetts, in 1944 to a working-class Irish Congregationalist family with six siblings. She completed a BFA in Painting and Printmaking from the Massachusetts College of Art, and moved to New York with her daughter Shara in 1967. A few years later she saw the drag troupe Hot Peaches performing in Sheridan Square and joined the group. In 1977 Hot Peaches went on a ‘Gay Tour of Europe’ where Peggy wrote her first monologue and met Lois Weaver who was touring with Spiderwoman Theatre at the time. In 1978 Peggy joined Spiderwoman, and by 1980 Lois and Peggy formed their own company after collaborating on the performance Split Britches: The True Story.  Peggy has received five NYFA Fellowships and three OBIE Awards including an OBIE for Performance in 1987 for Dress Suits for Hire and in 1999 for Menopausal Gentleman. She was the recipient of the 1995 Anderson Foundation Stonewall Award, The Foundation for Contemporary Performance Theatre Performer of the Year Award in 2005, the 2012 Edwin Booth CUNY Award for her "significant impact on theatre and performance in New York," and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Queen Mary University of London in 2017.  Her book A Menopausal Gentleman won the 2012 Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Drama. It includes scripts of her solo performances: You’re Just Like My Father, Menopausal Gentleman, To My Chagrin and Must. Peggy was the 2011 recipient of the Ethyl Eichelberger Award for the creation of RUFF, a musical collaboration that explores her experiences of having a stroke.

Lois WeaverLois Weaver is an artist, activist, and Professor of Contemporary Performance at Queen Mary University of London. She was co-founder of Spiderwoman Theater and the WOW Café Theatre in New York and has been a writer, director, and performer with Peggy Shaw and Split Britches since 1980. Her experiments in performance as a means of public engagement include Long Tables, Porch Sittings, Care Cafes, and her facilitating persona, Tammy WhyNot. Lois is a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow and a Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow for 2016–2018 and co-author of The Only Way Home Is Through the Show: Performance Work of Lois Weaver. Lois Weaver is a lecturer, performance artist, writer, director, and activist. She was co-founder of Spiderwoman Theatre, Split Britches Company, and the WOW Café Theatre in New York and was Artistic Director of Gay Sweatshop Theatre in London.

“Feminist Directions: Performance, Power, and Leadership” is co-sponsored by Cornell’s American Studies DepartmentCornell Council for the ArtsDepartment of AnthropologyDepartment of EnglishEngaged CornellFeminist, Gender, and Sexuality StudiesGraduate and Professional Student Assembly Financial CouncilGraduate and Professional Student Programming Board, Graduate School Office of Inclusion & Student EngagementHuman Sexuality CollectionLGBT Studiesthe President's Council of Cornell WomenRhodes Professorship Fundthe Society for the Humanities, and The History of Art and Visual Studies.  

Catering provided by women-owned local businesses:

Just a Taste

Manndible Cafe 

Mama Loyes Cafe 


Feminist Directions: Performance, Power, and Leadership Photo Gallery