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They Promised Her the Moon

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When they go low, we go high,” are words that could have easily been spoken by Jerrie Cobb (Amanda Quaid) in Laurel Ollstein’s new play They Promised her The Moon.  The play tells the relatively unknown story of mid- Western Cobb, a girl with a speech defect and a critical mother, but a dream that proved stronger than her limitations.

Cobb’s dad (John Leonard Thompson) was a pilot and after flying with him at age ten, Cobb was hooked. With his encouragement, she became pro and broke records in speed, distance and absolute altitude. Still, with so much discrimination against women pilots, she struggled to find work. When famed pilot Jackie Cochran, (Andrus Nichols), considered top female aviator in the world, created the Mercury 13 program to train female astronauts, Cobb’s luck changed. She out tested everyone including her male colleagues in the Mercury 7 program, but was not permitted to go up because women were not considered The Right Stuff.  John Glenn testified against hiring women for the space program and so Russia got there first with a lesser qualified Valentina Tereshkova.

This story of strength and resilience is beautifully told in this insightful and humorous play. Cobb had to compete not only against men but her own gender; Cochran, at fifty-five was too old to be an astronaut and consciously worked against Cobb’s success. She is brittle and tough, but we understand what she had to fight against, too.

The performances are all top notch, some playing several characters.  John Leonard Thompson as Cobb’s pilot father and Congressman is a quiet sensitive man and wholly believable as a father who can see a future in his daughter’s eyes.  Edmund Lewis, Polly Mckie and John Russell are all terrific with a wide range.

Amanda Quaid, our pilot hero, who discovers romantic love but chucks it for the skies, is so good at bringing an awkward young woman into existence in front of our eyes. When her career takes the obvious fall it must from not being permitted to become an astronaut, she doesn’t give up…she just moves…to the Amazon where she works with tribes and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1981.

Ms. Ollstein, an original member of Actors’ Gang in LA, has a great ear for real talk and imbues the story with sensitivity and humor.

As directed by Producing and Artistic Director of the Miranda Company, Valentina Fratti brings this too little known story beautifully to life. Graham Kindred’s set and lighting design is simply perfect.

Hopefully, this wonderful show, having run its course at St. Clement’s will soon find a new home. It deserves it.

Written by nancykoan

June 2, 2017 at 8:52 pm

Bullies Beware: The Rebirth of the Feminine is Almost Here

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There has been no shortage of shocking news during March’s Month of Madness. Despite the UN calling for a Happy Day this past Friday, it has not been happy for many. After two weeks of vigorous seminars and panels on the plight of violence against women across the globe at the Conference on the Status of Women, where all sorts of inspiring efforts are being put into action to lessen the physical and psychic damage on the feminine, Friday’s news brings yet another story of unspeakable cruelty towards an innocent.

Some of Kabul’s male citizens decided to play morality police and beat and burned alive a 27 year old woman who was accused of burning the Koran. Apparently, the victim may have had learning issues, not that that matters. It is the men who committed such barbarism who have issues…they are all completely mad.

That these men have cell phones and are leading supposed modern lives committed this atrocity in the diplomatic zone of Kabul, where so much international monies have gone to aid Afghanistan is shocking. That a religious leader defends this murder…beyond words.

As my cosmologist friends tell me, a solar eclipse is a force majeure, and if this act, on the last official day of the CSW and the eclipse, doesn’t bode for a rapid shift into another type of consciousness, then when will it ever come?

Nigerians girls abducted, women raped daily, elders tortured as witches, gay and transgender people persecuted…and our Mother Earth, trying to hold it together as she too has been decimated by the greed of capitalism and so- called progress.

We have plenty of statistics…one out of three women have experienced sexual violence and so forth.. IAWRT, The International Association of Women in Radio and Television’s brilliant reporting at the CSW on the percentages of women working in media…who’s delivering the stories that really pertain to women’s needs? The facts are presented…now let’s get on with changing the story.

The Lacanian therapist from France started her talk by describing her own burgeoning sense of herself as a youngster when her mother constantly told her early ‘she wasn’t good enough, she was a girl.’ The power of language to perpetuate myths in societies where patriarchy has gone amok.

As we come to the great Spring religious holidays, Easter, Passover, … let’s think back on traditions that predated Judaism and Christianity, taking place in the Middle East, Asia and Europe. Women’s birth was revered and honored, symbolized by eggs and blood.  According to the archaeomythology (, decorated goose eggs were found in graves dating back to the 4th century and Persians celebrate No-rooz with red colored eggs 3000 years ago. The pagans celebrate Ostara, the uterus, life-giving, estrus, Easter, eggs… you do the math.

So can we make this a time of re-birth, celebrate a re-awakening of the feminine in all of us, where the masculine allies itself with the feminine instead of in competition and destruction. It takes real courage to wake up from a sleep like the one our consciousness has been in for so long. It is enough suffering. Dayenu.

Written by nancykoan

March 22, 2015 at 3:10 am