a festival of exciting new work by women
June 7 - 10 and 14 - 17, 2001
Studio Theatre, Pittsburgh Playhouse
222 Craft Ave. in Oakland

A different schedule of performances each week Plus workshops by regional artists (see website for info)

Performances Thurs - Sat @ 8 PM, Sun @ 2 PM
Tickets: $15 ($10 students & seniors)
For tickets, call ProArts @ 412-394-3353 or online @ proartstickets.org

For detailed scheduling information, log on to proartstickets.org and follow the links to Women’s Work

Press is cordially invited to attend opening nights, Thurs., June 7, and Thurs., June 14th, but may attend any performance.

CONTACT: Kate Aronson, Artistic Director/ Producer: 412-243-8438.


WOMEN’S WORK is back! This not-quite-annual festival of new performance and visual works by and about women will make its appearance on the Pittsburgh arts scene from June 7th through the 17th, 2001. The two-week festival will run Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM in the Studio Theatre at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, 222 Craft Ave. in Oakland.

Founded in 1997 by current Artistic Director Kate Aronson with Jessica Bowser and Gretchen Schock, and followed up in 1998 with REVENGE OF WOMEN’S WORK, the 2001 festival will continue to break new ground as it showcases fourteen local women artists and two regional women artists whose work challenges the boundaries of traditional art forms. “In 1997 and ‘98, we concentrated mostly on theatrically-based performance,” says Aronson, “but this year we have artists in just about any medium you can think of: theater, dance, music, film and video, multimedia, and visual art.
The pieces by the local artists will be short - 10 minutes in length - followed by a longer piece by the invited regional artist. So the audience will be treated to a showcase of many of the really great women artists that Pittsburgh has to offer. And the evening will be VERY eclectic,” she adds. This year’s festival features more artists than ever before, so audiences will be treated to a buffet of exciting, innovative work by the artists that live and work in their community, as well as having the opportunity to see the work of the two regional artists, Gams on the Lam from New York, and Asimina Chremos from Chicago.

1998’s REVENGE OF WOMEN’S WORK was highly praised in the press, calling it “clever, funny, and poignant.” In 1997, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called the WOMEN’S WORK festival “An invigorating event...so intelligent, imaginative, and entertaining that it’s difficult to talk about it without sounding like a quote ad,” and that “this alternative event is simply exciting.”

WOMEN’S WORK opens on June 7th with a smorgasbord of local artists presenting their work.
Opening the show will be Somna M. Bulist, a harp-playing performance artist, performing her mini-opera, Valentine Stigmata. Musically based on ceremonial chant, it explores the artist’s perception of symbol and archetype. Denise Pullen’s theatrical Happy Birthday, Baby is next, about life beginning at 40. “Oh, and it’s a boy,” adds Pullen. The audience will then be treated to a showing of filmmaker T Foley’s licence, which she describes as a dialogue-less video featuring Foley and the blow-up doll who inspired it. More progression than plot, the video explores feminine roles of passivity and activity. Pittsburgh newcomer and choreographer Staycee Walters will present Heart Candy, which Walters calls simply a “textured, lighthearted interdisciplinary vision,” followed by Wen Hwa Tsa’o’s film Pei Pei’s Wedding, a home- style documentary about the filmmaker’s sister’s wedding. “It is a film about trans culture, the blend and separation of East and West,” says Tsa’o, “which may at times evoke laughter.” The last piece before the intermission will be Autumn Ayers’ Loose, which is a ten-minute excerpt from a work-in-progress inspired by the life of Santa Lucia, the patron saint of sight. It follows a contemporary Lucy through her discovery of her own personal vision.

Rounding out the first weekend’s schedule will be “laugh till you cry funny” Gams on the Lam, the hit of the 1998 WOMEN’S WORK festival, performing their new work, Get Lost! Described by the Washington City Paper as “sophisticated clowning with a girl group edge,” this trio of hilarious women creates and performs work that combines poignant characterizations with a wild vision of humanity askew. Enhanced by provocative original music and projected film, Get Lost! chronicles the adventures of an odd sisterly threesome whose fears and desires are played out in vivid cartoon fashion. The Gams put the pedal to the metal in this darkly comic road trip where bad directions, bad driving, and mechanical meltdown culminates in car crash calamity. Stranded in no-man’s land and exposed to the elements, the three women are driven to desperate acts. Gams on the Lam has performed throughout the United States and in Canada, Mexico, Germany, and Spain. David King of Hour Magazine said, “These three clowns do some of the funniest slapstick I’ve seen in years,” and John Hayes of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said, “Dr. Seuss’ best on a bad hair day...hilarious.” They are simply not to be missed.

And there’s more! On June 14th through the 17th, an entirely new line-up of eclectic performances will fill the Playhouse’s Studio Theatre. Opening the show will be EQ, a newly formed electric quartet comprised of classically trained musicians, who will be performing original compositions and structured improvisations. Susan Murray’s Overseas English Conversation is next, as “fear and alienation greet a foreigner in America,”according to Murray. Wen Hwa Tsa’o will screen another of her short films, Fung Tsa’o Theories, a film about her mother, followed by choreographer Michelle Dunleavy’s Return of Nunzilla, Dunleavy’s humorous look back on her Catholic school upbringing. Sheila McKenna, whose critically acclaimed (and very funny) short play Wanted was premiered at the 1998 WOMEN’S WORK festival will premiere her new work, Hum, a ten-minute excerpt from a full-length play. McKenna says, “This piece reveals the unconscious inside the stillness of forgetting.” McKenna will collaborate with director Gong-Im Lee, with whom she shares an interest in the language of gesture and Asian theater techniques. Vanessa Briceno’s short film, Silent Conversations, is about her mother, Susana Amundarain, the painter featured in this year’s festival, who taught Briceno to “listen, see, and read the secret messages hidden in the infinite layers of paint that live and breathe on the canvas.” Rounding out the local artists will be Cheryl Capezutti and Kellee Van Aken, presenting their collaborative puppet-theater piece, Mismatched Pair, in which dryer lint puppets come to life, steal socks, and fall in love with a melancholy laundress. Will love be returned? Discover the answer to this as well as the more vexing question “where do missing socks go?” in Mismatched Pair.

After the intermission, the audience will be treated to the work of the other invited regional artist, Asimina Chremos from Chicago, presenting her new work, Jewel Candy Box Box Box. Hailed by critics as the “bad girl of ballet,” Chremos brings her skewed vision of reality to the stage in the form of dance-based performance art. Jewel Candy Box Box Box is a semi-narrative, improvisational dance solo about desire and the painful process of transformation. Witch, princess, and mermaid are evoked in a triptych loosely based on imagery from fairy tales and ballet, with a generous dollop of humor. Dance Insider said that in the piece, Chremos “fiercely, savagely, relentlessly deconstruct[s] ballet, alternating between roles of warrior, queen, fairy, bird, goddess, and huntress,” and “Chremos reminds me of a Cirque du Soleil character - an impish, animated trickster.” Her work really pushes the envelope of traditional modern dance - another performance that Pittsburgh audiences will not want to miss.

Each weekend of the festival will provide an eclectic array of performance offerings, all in an approximately two-and-a-half hour time span. In addition, the paintings of Susana Amundarain (the subject of Vanessa Briceno’s film, Silent Conversations) will be displayed in the lobby areas throughout the run of the festival. Amundarain’s paintings have been described over the past twenty years as “lyric abstractions,” “landscapes of the mind,” and “visual poetry.”

The festival will also offer two workshops, led by each of the regional artists, Gams on the Lam and Asimina Chremos, which will be free and open to the public (see the WOMEN’S WORK website for details).

Artistic Director and Producer Kate Aronson is very excited to see WOMEN’S WORK growing into a festival that includes more and more artists representing different media. “This festival is a collaborative effort,” she stresses. “All of the artists have been helping with the production end of the festival as well as being instrumental in making decisions. I am thrilled to be working with all of these amazingly creative, strong women.” Aronson also points out that WOMEN’S WORK would not be possible without community partnerships: a generous grant from the Heinz Endowment’s Initiative for Small Arts Organizations, the essential in-kind support of the Pittsburgh Playhouse and Point Park College, and financial support from several individual donors, including the George White Downtown Series at the Carnegie.

Tickets for WOMEN’S WORK - $15 general admission, $10 students and seniors - can be ordered through ProArts at 412-394-3353 or online at proartstickets.org. Interested festival goers can log on to proartstickets.org and follow the links to the WOMEN’S WORK website.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please call:

Kate Aronson at 412-243-8438 (email: kathrynaronson@earthlink.net).


a festival of exciting new work by women

WHEN: JUNE 7 - 10 and 14 - 17, 2001



JUNE 7-10:
Somna M. Bulist - Valentine Stigmata

Denise Pullen - Happy Birthday, Baby

T Foley - licence

Staycee Walters - Heart Candy

Wen Hwa Tsa’o - Pei Pei’s Wedding

Autumn Ayers - Loose

Gams on the Lam - Get Lost!

JUNE 14-17:
EQ - various compositions and improvised works

Susan Murray - Overseas English Conversation

Wenhwa Tsa’o - Fung Tsa’o Theories

Michelle Dunleavy - Return of Nunzilla

Sheila McKenna - Hum

Vanessa Briceno - Silent Conversations

Cheryl Capezutti & Kellee Van Aken - Mismatched Pair

Asimina Chremos - Jewel Candy Box Box Box

Susana Amundarain’s paintings will be displayed in the lobby throughout the run of the festival.

WORKSHOPS (free and open to the public):
Gams on the Lam: Sat. June 9, 2-4 PM, George White Theatre, Carnegie Library, Wood St., downtown, near 4th Ave.

Asimina Chremos: Sat., June 16, 2-4 PM, Pittsburgh Playhouse, Oakland (workshop information subject to change - see website for latest details)

COST: $15 individual tickets $10 students and seniors
Festival seating
ProArts @ 412-394-3353 or online @ proartstickets.org

INFO: For detailed scheduling information, log on to proartstickets.org and follow the links to Women’s Work.

CONTACT: Kate Aronson, Artistic Director/ Producer: 412-243-8438

(alphabetical order)

Susana Amundarain (visual art) has been mainly a painter for the last twenty years, but she has also been inquisitive about the blurred edges of interdisciplinary forms. In 1989 she was invited by the Department of Performance Studies at New York University to spend a year as a Visiting Scholar, where she initiated an exploration of text adaptation to performance, as well as an inquiry into painting in the staging space. In 1990, Ms. Amundarain began a new exploration into the area of scenic design, producing the sets for four major productions in Venezuela, one of which was awarded First Prize in the City Competition (1993). One of her main interests today concerns collaborative pieces with her daughter, Vanessa Briceno, and with her husband, Efrain Amaya. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Denver and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Metropolitan State College of Denver. Ms. Amundarain has exhibited in 21 solo shows, in Mexico, England, the US, and Venezuela, as well as in numerous group shows around the world. Several of her paintings and drawings belong to private collections and museums in the US and South America, and she currently teaches painting at Chatham College.

Kate Aronson (Artistic Director/Producer) has been writing, performing, and producing her own multi-media and theater pieces since 1985 in places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis, New York, and Pittsburgh. As a founding member of the music-performance group Squonk Opera, she co-created and performed that group’s work at festivals, theaters, and clubs all over the U.S. A CD also came out of this collaboration. Since 1996, Kate has been creating and performing her solo work, including Bitter Fool, Visible Madman Doom, and Seven Suitcases. She has twice received Solo Performance Fellowships from the PA Council on the Arts. In 1997, she founded Women’s Work, which returned in 1998 as Revenge of Women’s Work. In addition to her original work, Kate is an actor, director, and teacher of theater, having worked locally at City Theatre, Quantum Theatre, Playhouse Repertory Company, and the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival, among others, and has also been on the faculty of Point Park College’s Conservatory of Performing Arts since 1989. She will be moving to Chapel Hill, North Carolina in August with her family.

Autumn Ayers (theater) was last seen in Pittsburgh as Madeleine in Quills. She performed her piece Birth Control for the 1998 Revenge of Women’s Work Festival. Since graduating last year from Point Park College’s Conservatory of Performing Arts, she has performed Annie in Durang vs. Ives for Confluence Theatre in New York City, and Sky Hickock in Manbites Dog Theater Company’s Production of The Monogamist in Durham, North Carolina. Locally she has worked with Quantum Theatre in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Young Playwright’s Festival at City Theatre. This fall, she will originate the role of Maria Theresa in Bricolage’s world premiere of Wild Signs.

Vanessa Briceno (film) is currently an MFA candidate in the Film and Media Arts Department at Temple University. She has produced and directed 16 mm shorts such as Silent Conversations, a recipient of the Kodak Award at temple’s Media Fest 2000, and Split Second, a work-in-progress. She is also developing a series of short films and animations based on the writings of the Urban Rhythms and Open City publications in Philadelphia, PA. Vanessa has received grants from the Heinz Endowment’s Small Arts Initiative as well as from First Night Pittsburgh, for a collaborative multi-media installation called Clepsydra: An Installation with 13 Performers. She has also worked as a cinematographer and assistant camera person on numerous films at Temple.

Somna M. Bulist (music) is active as a harpist and composer/performer. An advocate of the electro-acoustic harp, she embraces extended techniques and experiments in electronic processing. Her music has been featured in new works venues in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New York City. In 1998 she received critical acclaim for her debut CD, Invocations FAERYE. A Chinese American denizen of Pennsylvania, Somna (nee Wendy Renee Fong) is a graduate of Pratt Institute. She began and continued harp study with Lucille Lawrence and completed course work at the Mannes School of Music and the Delcroise School of Music in New York City. Her website is www.somna.net.

Cheryl Capezutti (visual art/theater) is a Pittsburgh area visual artist whose giant puppets have appeared on Good Morning, America!, as well as the Detroit Festival of the Arts, the Central PA Festival of the Arts, First Night Pittsburgh, and the Andy Warhol Museum. Currently, three of her puppets are touring Western PA schools as part of the Gateway to the Arts production, Building Magic. Her most recent work, Beneath the Light, was included in City Theatre’s 4 X 5 Festival in January, 2001. Capezutti’s “Lint Guys,” small figurative sculptures created out of dryer lint, are part of an interactive project she has been pursuing since 1994.

Asimina Chremos (dance; regional artist) is an independent dancer/performance artist who has been living in Chicago since 1997. Her solo work has been noted for its iconoclastic post-feminist stance and embodied politicism. Her work Bridle was featured in cultural critic Sally Banes’ recent book, Dancing Women, Female Bodies On Stage (Routledge). Chremos began her professional dancing career with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, performing solo and corps de ballet roles from 1983 to 1987. She then attended Temple University, graduating summa cum laude with a BFA in dance in1991. Chremos remained in Philadelphia, creating and performing as part of that city’s close-knit dance community until 1997. During that time, she was choreographer-in-residence at the Susan Hess Studio for two years, along with artists Roko Kawai and Rennie Harris; a recipient of a PA Council on the Arts Fellowship, and a Philadelphia Repertory Initiative grant. She has also performed her work in New York City at P.S. 122, Performance Mix, Dixon Place, and Gowanus Arts exchange (now Brooklyn Arts Exchange), and was a 1995 Movement Research Exchange Artist. Chremos has been Artistic Director of Chicago’s venerable alternative performance/rehearsal space, Links Hall Studio, since September, 2000. She teaches modern dance technique to the Hubbard Street Dance Company and to many other students in Chicago through various studios and programs, and continues to develop her solo and group work.

Michele Dunleavy (dance) is a choreographer and dancer who has studied in New York City with Jennifer Muller, Lynn Simonson, Laurie De Vito, and Charlie Wright. Michele returned to Pittsburgh to become a founding member of the DANA Movement Ensemble, with whom she served as Resident Choreographer, Principle Dancer, and Co-Artistic Director. She then went on to perform as a principle dancer with the Physical Theatre Project. Michele has participated in the Choreographer’s Continuum, the Pittsburgh Dance Festival, the Three Rivers Arts Festival, and the Pittsburgh Opera. She recently collaborated with violinist Lisa Miles and visual artist Zed Armstrong on a piece called Presence.

EQ (music) is a newly formed electric string quartet comprised of classically trained players who have a wide range of experience. Violinists Erin Hutter (of Boxstep and the Deliberate Strangers) and Tanya Kavalkovich (of The Garden and Isabelle) have played in local rock bands for years. Violist Regina Ketter (of the Firenze String Quartet) and cellist Erin Snyder (of Watershed and Opek 15) complete the ensemble. EQ concentrates on original compositions, improvisations, and the aural textures created through the manipulation of electronically processed sounds.

Teresa (T) Foley (video) While in film school, T Foley tired of watching student films filled with bad actors, so she began animating objects (mostly Catholic iconography). In order to earn her bread and butter, Foley works as the lead artist and administrator of Pittsburgh Filmmaker’s Media Literacy Arts Education program. There she makes a point of encouraging her students and audiences to become more active and critical viewers of the media. She also thinks that kids should learn to write with cameras, along with older technologies (pencils and word processors). Foley is a recipient of a 2001 PA Council on the Arts Media Arts Fellowship. Her films and videos have been shown at various screening venues throughout the U.S.

Gams on the Lam (theater/regional artist) is a three-woman clown theater company inspired by European clowning and silent film. A sophisticated mixture of existential struggle and roughhouse buffoonery, these three silent incorrigible heroines - the overbearing “Diva,” the fragile “Waifer,” and the mischievous “Trouble” - are an endearing dysfunctional family careening through life with the boisterous naivete of the truly hopeful. Gams tours internationally, and since its creation in 1993 has been seen at theaters, universities, and festivals such as the Moers International Comedy Arts Festival in Germany, the International Clown Festival of Barcelona, the International Festival of Contemporary Art in Leon, Mexico, the Atlanta Arts Festival, the Seattle Arts Festival, Touchstone Theatre, the New York Buskers Fair, the Canadian Fringe Festivals, and the 1998 Revenge of Women’s Work Festival. The company has been awarded funding by Arts International, the NY Foundation for the Arts, the NY State Council on the Arts, and is a recipient of the Franklin Furnace Award for Emerging Artists.

Sheila McKenna (theater/Assistant Producer) is an actor, director, writer, and teacher in theater, film, and radio. She has created and performed her own work for many years, most recently showcasing Wanted at the 1998 Revenge of Women’s Work festival. For Playhouse Junior at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, she has directed many plays, including Aladdin, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, and The Princess and the Pea, among others. She also directed Tammy Ryan’s Pig for the Playhouse Theatre Company. As an actor, she has performed with Quantum Theatre, City Theatre, Upstairs Theatre, the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival, and the Playhouse Repertory Company, to name a few. Sheila was also a member of the Pittsburgh chapter of TheatreSports. She is currently pursuing a Masters degree in theater from the University of Pittsburgh.

Susan Murray (multimedia) is a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama. Her recent work includes coordinating the Wattson Experimental Video Festival at the Carnegie Museum of Art, directing a production of Beckett’s Endgame, and creating several video art pieces for Music First Video, a project focusing on creating visual displays to enhance music. Susan has accepted a job at the Gertrude Stein Repertory Theatre as a video artist and will be moving to New York City in the fall.

Denise Pullen (theater) received her MFA in Playwriting/Dramatic Writing from Carnegie Mellon University, where she had the great fortune to study with Milan Stitt and Tina Howe. She also received her BFA in Directing from CMU. Last spring, Denise’s screenplay, Riding Fire, won the first place, $20,000 Sloan Foundation Award. Her one-act, Happy Birthday, Baby, was a winning play at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. It will be presented as a staged reading this summer in the New Pay Series at CMU. Next fall, Denise will be in residence at Beloit College, where her play Phone Noir will be produced as part of their season. A director and teacher for many years, Denise is on the faculty of Carnegie Mellon, where she teaches playwriting for their precollege program. She also teaches drama courses for the Community College of Allegheny County.

Wen Hwa Tsa’o (film) was born in 1964 in Taiwan, Republic of China. She has worked in film, video, and photography. After moving to the United States in 1984, she studied photography and visual design at the University of Oregon, and received her Master of Fine Arts in film and photography from the Virginia Commonwealth University in 1990. Since her arrival in the U.S., she has completed seven films, ranging from short experimental works to the 75-minute Cola for Tea (a work-in-progress). She has received several awards and grants to continue her work, most recently the PA Council on the Arts Fellowship, awarded to individual creative artists. Wen hwa’s work has been exhibited extensively at venues and festivals all over the U.S.

Kellee Van Aken (theater) is the Associate producing Director at City Theatre. Her play Tipton, produced by Flying Pig Theatre, was nominated by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as one of the 10 Best Plays of the Year. Her other works include Ordinary Phoenix (timespace theatre), Shakespeare for Small People (Shakespeare in the Schools, University of Pittsburgh), and Desire (Pittsburgh New Works Festival reading)

Staycee Walters (dance) began her formal training as a dancer/choreographer in her home town of Columbia, Maryland with the modern dance company Dance Dimensions. She later studied and performed in Philadelphia at the Colleges of the Arts and in New York City with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. Staycee has also worked with various regional companies based in Atlanta, New York, New Jersey, and now Pittsburgh, where she enjoys guest performing with Expressions Dance Company and teaching at the YWCA. She has also shown her work at the Hamburg Studio Theatre’s Dark Night Cabaret.