Sunday, September 28, 2003

Ovation's production gives a 'Voice' to women authors

George Eliot. Harriet Beecher Stowe. Aphra Behn. Jane Austen. George Sand. Lillian Hellman. The Bronte sisters. Virginia Woolf. Dorothy Parker.

What did each of these women authors have? A Voice of My Own, is the apt title of a collection of dramatic sketches (with music) about how women have become writers, how they stopped writing as anonymous and under male pseudonyms to speak for and as themselves.

Voice opens Friday at the Aronoff's Fifth Third Bank Theater and continues through Oct. 11 under the Ovation Theatre banner.

The title, of course, plays on Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own." Voice primarily concerns itself with women who wrote before the 20th century, from Sappho, who wrote 600 years before the birth of Christ, to Lady Murasaki, who perhaps wrote the world's first novel 1,000 years after Christ's death.

"Each of the more than 20 authors has an interesting story to tell," says Joe Stollenwerk, Ovation artistic director and Voice director.

"And some of the play is very funny - much more so than you might expect from a piece of educational, feminist literary theater. The play is meant to speak to everyone, not just women but also the men who get dragged along. I want the play to draw them in, too, and I really think it will."

Stollenwerk notes that as much as he loves the subject matter, the real reason he wanted to do the play was to showcase six strong actresses.

Burgess Byrd and Sunshine Cappelletti have established reputations for their work at Cincinnati's smaller companies.

Byrd, Leanne Greenberg and Barbara Karol are making their Ovation debut.

Ovation managing director Lisa Hall Breithaupt and Kristin Clippard, like Cappelletti, are Ovation veterans.

For reservations, call 241-7469. For information about Ovation, call the theater at 369-1544 or e-mail

Deal of the week: Voice offers a pay-what-you-can preview at 8 p.m. Thursday.

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