As We Climb
Physical Theatre Interrogates Oppression

Original Music by Luke Shepherd,
Lyrics by Jasmine Crosson and Luke Shepard,
Student Choreography by Arista Detter and Tyler Jung

Photos by Jordan Linton and Tom Charlesworth 

The Central Question: 

 Why are we so afraid of Feminism's invitation to honor the full humanity of all individuals and end systemic oppression? 

Where did it all begin? 

This show was inspired by  Olympe de Gouges, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, bell hooks, adrienne maree brown, Gloria Steinem, and Justin Baldoni to name a few. (See Sources Below) 

The Process

​The etymology of “devising” hints at our journey. The Old Latin dividere and the Old French deviser suggest a process of dividing, and that is what we did divide and conquer. Over the weeks of rehearsal, we divided readings, curated citations, conceived of characters, created physical and vocal scores, improvised, wrote, rewrote, and with the help of my incomparable dramaturg Serena Alexander, we organized our thoughts into a moldable fledgling story.

The Cube

Like the six sides of a cube, this devising framework gave us six points to anchor, clarify, and shake up our work if we felt uncertain or stuck. The six points are: Dramaturgy, Movement, Text, Design Elements, Filter (how we focused a moment), and Fun.

I offered that if the students felt stymied or needed a new perspective, all we had to do was "roll the cube and have some fun."

The Music

Jasmine Crosson, pictured left, is a vocal powerhouse and together with our Music Director, Luke Shepard, created beautiful original songs that became both calls to action and anthems of power. 

I am grateful to the genius of both of these artists. 

Select Sources

  • We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

  • Dear Ijeawele: A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

  • Man Enough by Justin Baldoni  

  • The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks 

  • Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks 

  • The Feminist Utopia Project: Fifty-Seven Visions of a Wildly Better Future edited by Alexandra Brodsky and Rachel Kauder Nalebuff 

  • Feminism for the 99%: A Manifesto by Cinzia Arruzza, Tithi Bhattacharya, and Nancy Fraser 

  • Feminist Manifestos: A Global Documentary Reader edited by Penny W. Weiss 

  • Manifesto for Young Asian Women by Shiuan Butler 

  • The Transfeminist Manifesto by Emi Koyama 

  • Feminisms: A Global History by Lucy Delap 

  • Ain’t I a Woman? By Sojourner Truth

  • The Truth Will Set You Free but First It Will Piss You Off by Gloria Steinem 

  • bell hooks and Gloria Steinem, Dialogue at St. Norbert College

  • Malala Yousafzai’s Speech at the United Nations 

  • Hilary Clinton’s Address at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women 

  • Educator’s Pledge to Teach the Truth from the Zinn Education Project