Abigail Birkett, one of three "goats," alongside Carissa Jade Olsen and Lauren Ferebee, says Goat Song was created to help uncover, develop and produce stories about women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people and other underrepresented voices.
Instead of a season of plays, Goat Song has created a yearlong series of events intended to spark dialogue within the community. The first event Goat Song put on, "Fucked," was a series of one minute, TED-talk style performances by female theater artists that mixed in trivia about women's history.
Up next on Saturday is something completely different in style and tone — it’s called Exposed: A Night of Anonymous Monologues. Birkett and the other goats put out a call for women in the Dallas theater scene to submit monologues about their experiences working in this town. Only Birkett and Olsen know the authors, and the monologues will be read by Dallas actresses this Saturday night at Arts Mission Oak Cliff.
In the theater world it can be easy to say the "show must go on" and push aside problematic behavior, Birkett says. When time is of the essence, there often isn't the opportunity to sit down and discuss feminism with co-workers.
That's why Goat Song wanted to hear from women. The event isn't intended to expose or shame anyone but instead to spark conversation about the problems and issues women face in this small industry every day. Birkett says men may not be aware that behaviors like being touched without consent can be construed as aggressive or intimidating.
Goat Song Theatre received 20 submissions representing all kinds of stories and all kinds of women. The tales ranged from those of motherhood to sexism to body issues and life-work balance. Birkett loves how the event gives women a safe way to share their experiences — without fear of how an aggressor will react, or of losing work in a highly competitive market — and also puts some distance between a woman and her story.
The cast of actresses is Hannah Brake, Kristen Lazarchick, Ruth Cantrell, Mandy Reichalt, Sasha Davis, Courtney Mentzel, Kelly Stewart, Lindsay Ryan, Kia Boyer, Dakota Ratlif, Becca Rothstein, Concetta Troskie, Kennedy Waterman, Stacy Ann Armstrong and Christine Sanders. "I was overwhelmed by the women and their generosity," Birkett says.
Don't expect stories that are intensely dramatic or shocking. There won't be any name-calling. Rather, the purpose of Exposed is to air the subtle, nuanced ways that women feel oppressed or intimidated in the workplace.
"So much of gender equality starts with one-on-one situations," she says. "It can be easy to justify behavior that we don't like, but after hearing from so many women we were able to zoom out and see what we're dealing with as a community. It makes it so personal."
The performance will take place in the basement of the Arts Mission Oak Cliff, an old Winnetka Heights church being restored by a team led by local actress Anastasia Muñoz. Birkett loves the "confessional" feel that church basement will provide. To build on this effect, the event will require a password to get in.
Because the actresses will be telling very personal, true stories, and the event it is free, Birkett also thought it appropriate for there to be some kind of protective barrier. "You have to want it," Birkett says. But don’t worry, anyone can know the password. When you get to the door, just say, "I will not be silent."
Exposed: A Night of Anonymous Monologues, 8 p.m. Saturday, Arts Mission Oak Cliff, 410 S. Windomere Ave., free, see Facebook.