When it comes to strong female characters in theatre, it would be safe to say that there needs to be more work done in bringing exciting female characters to the stage. Writers need to evoke the importance of strong female characters, and although there is some progress being made in this area, there is still room forgreat improvement. One company in Buffalo who works to give strong female characters and women the spotlight is the Brazen-Faced Varlets.
Started in 2006, Brazen-Faced Varlets makes it their mission to perform at least one show each season written by a female playwright, as well as re-imagining the theatre canon by casting women to play iconic roles. “Women don’t get to grow as theatrical artists,” says Lara Harberberger, co-founder of Brazen-Faced Varlets and Director of “Desdemona”, “we love to pick works where women are able to shine.”
“Desdemona: A Play About A Handkerchief” is written by Paula Vogel, whose play “Indecent” just played a successful run on Broadway. “Desdemona” is a fresh take on Shakespeare’s “Othello” but focuses on his wife, Desdemona and her tales of conquest. “Its the women’s point of view in this story, of a show Buffalo knows so well,” says Harberberger, “Buffalo is a Shakespeare town. We are happy to produce this very dark comedy based on Shakespeare’s work, all thought this is not at all what he imagined it to be.”
In “Othello,” Desdemona’s fate is sealed, but this show allow us to hear her story. “October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and we find it fitting that we can perform this show to raise awareness for the month,“ says Harberberger, “Desdemona is killed by her husband, and we want to bring more awareness to domestic violence through this production.”
Brazen-Faced Varlets are known for their dark, off color comedies. “This show is great because we see that Desdemona really doesn’t like her husband, she isn’t faithful, and she is a spoiled brat,” says Harberberger.
Paula Vogel writes this tale, and according to Harberberger, it is very special. “I served as the Assistant Director for Woolly Mammoth’s production of the “Mineola Twins” while working on my MFA at the Catholic University of America where Paula is an alum. I got to speak with her at the cast party. She was very supportive” This is the first time that the Brazen-Faced Varlets will produce one of Vogel’s works.
“We are very excited to have received an Arts Services Initiative of Western New York grant to produce this show,” says Harberberger, “Paula’s work hasn’t been done around here in a while, and I know audiences will enjoy what we are planning.”
“Desdemona: A Play About A handkerchief” opens on October 12, 2017 and is presented at Rustbelt Books on Grant Street in Buffalo. For more information, click here.