I love reading Fringe show descriptions. I usually develop an expectation in my mind that is rarely relevant to the actual production I witness. Ellouise Schoettler’s Pushing Boundaries show description is one of those where I definitely did not have an accurate idea of what the show was to be about, but was a fortunate choice, nevertheless.
Without really knowing much about Ms. Schoettler I had a vision of a 60-ish, genteel, southern lady recounting her transition from a home maker in the 1950’s to who she is today (which I hoped to discover). I was expecting some ironic and humorous tales with a kind and rambling way to underline a point. Oh, did I mention that Ms. Schoettler’s bio mentions that she has been a storyteller for approximately 20 years. Having spent time in the south and in Appalachia – I had a vision of sitting on a porch and listening to some “larger than life tales.” What a surprise to hear Ms. Schoettler’s polished and honed discussion…more reminiscent of an interesting college lecture regarding women’s studies than of Sunday afternoon story telling.
Ms. Schoettler has an impressive resume and she details this throughout her seminar. She discusses her roles as a student, mother, activist, lobbyist, artist, and ERA campaign director (among other things). Ms. Schoettler – was, – is, a feminist, and a very talented and vocal activist. Her current mission is not so different from that of the 1970’s and 80’s. Her talk aims to garner interest in establishing a constitutional amendment for the equal rights of women. She helped to lead and develop these efforts during the feminist movement and now would like to hand off that baton to younger ladies willing to take up the call to arms. She fears the dissolution of the gains women have made over the last 30 years.
I found her seminar direct, polished, with a clear objective and a distinct call to action….hardly the “story telling” claim made in the show’s short description. And possibly that is the only “fault” I find with the show, perhaps the aim and the synopsis should give more credit to the audience by being more direct and pointed regarding the lecture…for as interesting and satisfying as the recanting of Ms. Schoettler’s life was, there is a mission and point to the talk.
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