Displaying her feminist roots and expertise in outdoor site-specific work, aerial dance artist and choreographer Jo Kreiter is tackling the issue of older homeless women in her world premiere “Multiple Mary and Invisible Jane.”
Flyaway Productions founder Kreiter, who has a background in political science, raises consciousness by bringing social justice issues to the public square — literally. “Multiple Mary,” a free 30-minute show which opens Friday, takes place on an 80-foot wall of Hastings College of Law, by San Francisco’s Civic Center. The work is inspired by “Old, Female and Homeless,” a 2013 The Nation article written by Kreiter’s friend Rose Aguilar.
“It used to be that homeless women over 50 were blessedly rare,” says Aguilar. Today, with the aging of the population, they are now the norm among the homeless population.
Working with Aguilar, Krieter interviewed six women, most of whom simply had fallen on hard times, as the basis for “Multiple Mary.”
One woman who lived in Noe Valley lost her home of 27 years after she took out a second mortgage when her husband died and was unable to repay the loan. Another worked all her life only to have her drug-addicted son deplete her resources. A third, typical of many homeless women, hit a medical crisis and ended up on the street.
“These are women who had spun through their resources and had no other safety net. My hope is to cut through compassion fatigue and help people see how close we all are to getting to a place where you have nothing,” Kreiter says.
While translating social issues into meaningful movement can be a challenge, Kreiter hit upon one key element common among her subjects’ stories — all of the women described sleeping in chairs. She says, “… One of the pieces has dancers in chairs interpreting what it means to have to sleep sitting up. It brought this large political issue to a very concrete place.”
Sampled and processed voices of the women telling their personal stories make up “Multiple Mary’s” soundscape, created by composer-media artist Pamela Z.
While Kreiter hopes some of the women will attend the performances, she’s not counting on it. They don’t care to wear homelessness as a badge or even to be identified as homeless.
“We’re trying to show how much strength they have,” says Kreiter, “to portray them not as victims, but as survivors.”
IF YOU GO
Where: UC Hastings College of the Law, 333 Golden Gate Ave., S.F.
When: 8 and 9 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, through Sept. 20, plus noon and 8 p.m. Sept. 17-18
Contact: www. flyawayproductions.com