(There's an opening musical performance in this video before Grise takes the stage at 3m 20s. Click here if you can't see the video.)
Pooch. Inner tube. Jelly roll. Gut. It's something that many women have, yet try to keep under wraps. But not writer-performer Virginia Grise (Theater MFA 09). She embraces her panza. So much so that she created The Panza Monologues, a solo performance piece based on stories, conversations and chisme (gossip) from women behind the panzas (and openly riffing Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues).
Grise released a DVD of the Monologues on Sept. 1, a performance recorded in front of a live audience at Plaza de la Raza in East Los Angeles, and the activist-artist encourages women to share their own stories by throwing panza parties--where "Tupperware meets Telenovela"--to allow women to tell their own stories about their bodies, loves, abuses and lives.
Grise, who used to gather with friends and family to watch, then re-enact or discuss the latest telenovelas (soap operas with a short life span), says that the Panza Party is "our way of creating the opportunity for your mother, your tia AND your best friend to see the show together. And its my intention to recreate the feeling i remember of being a little kid watching something i loved with a community of people, like the telenovelas. For me, the magic of theatre is the act of collective witnessing and shared experience."
Though currently based in St. Paul, Minn., (where she's been awarded a Jerome Fellowship from The Playwright's Center), Grise is conducting public screenings, workshops and lectures around Los Angeles, working with high school students, university students and women in transitional housing. She says she's interested in finding different ways of "circulating theatre outside of the theatre.
"This is one way to make theatre more accessible AND compact!"