Categories: Arts Theater

‘White Feminist’ ponders journey of the privileged and oppressed

Pennsylvania actress Lee Minora, who’s bringing her satirical one-woman show “White Feminist” to San Francisco this month, doesn’t necessarily have a single target audience.

“I think it’s for everyone,” says Minora, but she admits, “White feminists will feel a little extra something, a little extra recognition, and think, ‘whoops, I’ve done that.’”

In “White Feminist,” which is on the program of the Fury Factory Festival of Ensemble and Devised Theater running July 10-22, Minora plays talk show host Becky Harlowe, a character partly inspired by Megyn Kelly (who calls herself feminist when it’s “convenient”).

But Minora, who premiered “White Feminist” at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia earlier this year, first thought about the piece in August 2017, while doing a different show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland.

“I wanted to keep making aggressive feminist solo performance,” says Minora, who was jarred by the white supremacist rally and violence in Charlottesville, Va. at the time. Not long after, Kelly debuted her “terrible” show, giving Minora the idea for the format of the new piece.

“The talk show seemed fitting. I wanted to have conversations with people,” she says, adding, “for some reason it was decided” that the talk show became the place where women’s views are aired. It’s lamentable, too, because in taking on complicated topics in “bite-sized segments,” talk shows can end up making light of important issues, she says.

The audience for “White Feminist” is Becky’s live studio audience (of “citizen heroes”) on a special day, an annual “ladies day,” similar to “Oprah’s Favorite Things.”

Co-directed by Alice Yorke, the show — which Minora says addresses the “juicy” question “What do you do when you have privilege and oppression?” and gets “more complex than scrunchies and rollerblading” — is deliberately interactive.

“I want theater that uses theater’s superpower. You don’t get to sit back in the dark, we get to share something intimately,” she adds.

Noting that the show “only succeeds with a huge spirit of generosity and a sense of play,” she says people in her audiences are never shamed or embarrassed: “To care for them is paramount.”

The versatile Minora, who graduated from Temple University (“I thought I was going to do musicals”) maintains a varied career, creating edgy material with groups such as The Berserker Residents and also appearing in straight theater, from Eugene O’Neill to farces.

Excited to come to San Francisco for the first time (a dear friend from college, who only wore one earring and was “so cool,” lives here), Minora is thrilled to be hosted by FoolsFury Theater Co. and the Fury Factory Festival.

“It’s not the most gigantic company, but it’s great that it puts resources into bringing artists to San Francisco,” she says, pointing to a positive proliferation of experimental theater and the fact that many shows on the New York Times’ 2018 list of the 25 best plays in the past 25 years weren’t on Broadway.

“Devised and ensemble theater — that’s where the tide is headed,” she says, catching herself making up a bad metaphor and apologizing for it with a laugh.

White Feminist
Presented by Fury Factory Festival
Where: Z Below, 470 Florida St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. July 18-19, 8:30 p.m. July 21
Tickets: $15 to $39
Note: The festival — with 12 main stage shows and nine works-in-progress — runs July 10-22 at Z Below, Joe Goode Annex and NOHspace in The City.

Leslie Katz

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