More stories of Bethlehem women in leadership roles: stereotypes and epiphanies

logo 70th in a series of posts on Touchstone Theatre logo

The Secret

The Secret begins one day, in late nineteenth century Bethlehem, when sixteen year-old, Helen Wolle, mother of H.D., entered a Moravian Seminary classroom to rehearse a song she looked forward to performing. Much to her shock and, in fact, trauma, she was roughly told to be quiet, to end “this dreadful noise” by her pastor grandfather, Papalie. And Helen, who loved to sing so much and so well, would never sing again in public. The focus of the panel will be on women in leadership. We will connect the panel to the play via a question that Mamalie (Hilda’s maternal grandmother) asks Hilda in the beginning of the play, and H.D. asks the audience at the end of the play: “Who will follow the music?” 

Here are two more participants on the panel that followed a Festival Unbound performance of “The Secret,” the play about H. D.’s life. Moderator Jennie Gilrain gave the eight panelists about five minutes each to talk about their “dreams, hopes, works” and perhaps to recount a time when they were “encouraged or inspired or discouraged and oppressed from following your music.” Gadfly should have said last time that short biographies of these women can be found here.

Nancy Matos Gonzalez ran into the generational wall that college is for the boys but was fortunate to meet a woman who acted as her advocate and mentor. When running for office, she realized that she had to work harder after a man told her that Puerto Rican women are only interested in sex and their men are all on drugs.

Dr. Paige Van Wirt’s story is a story of epiphanies, one saying “O, my god, that’s my path” out of a soul-crushing job as a bond analyst after watching a movie in which a woman wants to be a doctor, and the another saying “I can do that” after leaving a City Council meeting angry and outraged.

to be continued . . .

Festival UnBound
Closed but never forgotten

H. D.: Gadfly recycles

logo39th in a series of posts on H.D.logo

Gadfly found this message crumpled on the floor of Touchstone Theatre after a performance of “The Secret,” the original play on H. D.’s life performed during the Festival UnBound.

A message apparently unheeded.

H. D.: in the last two posts, you’ve seen what you can admire and what she can inspire.

https://www.bapl.org/hd/

017

https://www.bapl.org/hd/

H. D.: what it feels like when what was so much is suddenly empty

logo38th in a series of posts on H.D.logo

Bethlehem-born writer Hilda Doolittle — H. D. —  (1886-1961) is
the “Lehigh Valley’s most important literary figure.”

You have read the poem, now listen to this–

my god . . .

——

Nevermore Will the Wind

Musical setting of H.D.’s poem

Fri Oct 25, 8 pm 

Sat Oct 26, 8 pm 

Zoellner Arts Center

420 E Packer Ave, Bethlehem

From composer Steven Sametz of Lehigh

University with 200 singers and orchestra. 

Also Faure Requiem

H. D.: “Never more will the wind / cherish you again”

logo37th in a series of posts on H.Dlogo

Bethlehem-born writer Hilda Doolittle — H. D. —  (1886-1961) is
the “Lehigh Valley’s most important literary figure.”

“Master,” said the Grasshopper, “what good is poetry?”

“Wait, Grasshopper,” said the Master, “till you have suffered loss. And then you will know.”

—–

Never more will the wind
cherish you again,
never more will the rain.

Never more
shall we find you bright
in the snow and wind.

The snow is melted,
the snow is gone,
and you are flown:

Like a bird out of our hand,
like a light out of our heart,
you are gone.

H. D.

Let this little poem by our Bethlehem poet whom we have discovered and celebrated all year sink in for an hour. Then come back to Gadfly again.

“Who will follow the music?” The panel after “The Secret” play about H. D.

logo36th in a series of posts on H.D.logo

Gadfly’s not done with coverage of Touchstone Theatre’s “Festival UnBound” — not by a longshot. He will be featuring several of the panels that convened during the 10-days, panels where important conversations were occurring.

Listen to your high-achieving fellow townswomen talk about their lives.
What can we learn?

“Who will follow the music?”
WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP: Inspirations and Obstacles
after a performance of “The Secret”
moderated by Jennie Gilrain

The Secret begins one day, in late nineteenth century Bethlehem, when sixteen year-old, Helen Wolle, mother of H.D., entered a Moravian Seminary classroom to rehearse a song she looked forward to performing. Much to her shock and, in fact, trauma, she was roughly told to be quiet, to end “this dreadful noise.” by her pastor grandfather, Papalie. And Helen, who loved to sing so much and so well, would never sing again in public.

The focus of the panel will be on women in leadership. We will connect the panel to the play via a question that Mamalie (Hilda’s maternal grandmother) asks Hilda in the beginning of the play, and H.D. asks the audience at the end of the play: “Who will follow the music?’ 

Moderator Jennie Gilrain, who also directed the play, here frames the panel:

And here introduces the panelists: Phyllis Alexander, Yalitza Corcino-Davis, Abriana Ferrari, Mary C. Foltz, Nancy Matos Gonzalez, Margaret Kavanagh, Emily Santana, Dr. Paige Van Wirt. See here for short biographies.

Here is the full panel discussion, broken into two parts. Gadfly will return shortly with edited video of each panelist, enabling a better focus on individual stories.

Festival UnBound
Closed but never forgotten

Forest Bathing with H.D.

(35th in a series of posts on H.D.)

Forest bathing was one of the events in our year-long series of events entitled

Finding H.D.:
A Community Exploration of the Life and Work of Hilda Doolittle

Bethlehem-born writer Hilda Doolittle — H. D. —  (1886-1961) is
the “Lehigh Valley’s most important literary figure.”

Sienna Mae Heath is a storywriter of landscapes, architecture, and gardens. A world traveler with a home base in Bethlehem, she knows how a strong sense of place sparks meaning in small moments. Check out her blog Garden Mindfully.

In the spirit of World Mental Health Day, blogger Sienna Mae Heath discusses seasonal depression. Going forest bathing helped her welcome the autumnal equinox with grace. How do you prepare for winter?

For many of us with seasonal depression, the first cool night signals a warning that it’s time to drop vitamin D infused oil on our morning toast, or else succumb to darkness. The sun sets a little sooner, the window for soaking up sunshine nearly closed. When I awoke on the fourth Sunday of September, I figured, all the more reason to let my blankets release me into the wild of Little Pond to go “Forest Bathing with H.D.”

Our guide was Anisa George. Her mother Bridget, who along with Bill George founded the arts retreat in 1996, motioned for me to park on the mix of gravel and grass across the way from their quaint refinished farmhouse. I nibbled on the edible garden of spearmint, cinnamon basil, and nasturtiums (which I think of as rogue peppery petunias).

“Welcome back,” the mother-daughter duo chimed in unison. Little Pond served as a spiritual and creatively charged oasis during my childhood, and here I was, having owned two houses, changed my career, and circling around from quite a few travels abroad – home.

This gathering brought seven women together. As we settled in a circle near the pond, Anisa shared the history of forest bathing – the English translation for the Japanese tradition of immersing oneself in nature. This tradition is only a few decades old. In the 1980s when workers were collapsing at their desks, the government took action. The result is now a global phenomenon, encouraging humanity to reconnect with the landscape.

Invitations and sharing circles

In forest bathing, there are invitations and sharing circles. Each free-flowing activity is an invitation to savor the sights, sounds, textures and scents around you. When given the sharing piece, similar to a talking stick, we could answer this question: What are you noticing?

“It’s okay to pass. It’s okay to share silence,” Anisa said. This added reassurance made me feel so free. Poetry, though not typically a part of forest therapy, sparks a calming freedom within. Anisa presented scrolls of poems by H.D., the Lehigh Valley poet also known as Hilda Doolittle, who was a great lover of the wild. The first piece of parchment pulled from the cup revealed:

Behold the dead are lost,

The grass has lain

Trampled

And stained

And sodden

Behold

Behold

Behold . . .

The grass rises

With flower-bud;

The grain

Lifts its bright spear head

To the sun again

Behold,

Behold

The dead

Are no more dead

The grain is gold

blade

stalk

and seed within;

the mysteries

are in the grass

and the rain.

“What stands out to me is ‘Behold, behold, behold’!” said fellow forest bather Gerry Nugent. “Even if it’s been trampled, behold, it’s still beautiful. We have four seasons in Pennsylvania. Never know what we’re going to get.”

After this first sharing circle came the first invitation. Anisa guided us up a hill to a mowed oval surrounded by trees. Laying like blades of grass, we became curious of what we’re welcoming on an inhale and what we’re giving on an exhale.

Each person inhaled something of their own and exhaled what they need to give to the world. For me, I welcomed the wind to join my breath. I welcomed confidence in the life I’ve built for myself in the past year. I gave gratitude to the family who helped make it possible.

Mindful of Motion

Prior to our next walk, Anisa asked that we be mindful of movement: “What’s in motion? If the only thing you notice is yourself, you might want to slow down.”

Children are constantly in motion. Inspired by H.D.’s “wild fulfillment” (and I by Brene Brown’s to be bold and play), we spread milkweed seeds to the wind. The pods slipped open, revealing what felt like a thousand dandelion seeds with the texture of a down pillow. I was surprised how many could fit in even the smallest spaces. Tapping into my inner child, I coaxed the next generation of monarch butterflies to pollinate this patch next summer.

Inevitably the group would disperse, like the seeds themselves, so Anisa taught us how to call each other without cell phones – we howled! The lesson learned is, first of all, it’s fun to howl like wolves in the wood, and if I can’t hear one wolf, perhaps I can hear another and then know it’s time to return to the sharing circle.

The Camera and Photographer invitation brought to mind technology once more, but soon we learned it only needed the human eye and hand. My partner was Kait Smart. Having just met, we embarked on this trust exercise. She closed her eyes, and I walked her to a textured stump. Then we switched roles and ended up blowing more milkweed.

“Look at this, this is what I see,” Gerry described the perspective gained by taking pictures in pairs. “How often do we get to do that in our daily lives? Maybe I will after this.”

Bridget George and Sally Cordova shared their adventure, too. When you keep your eyes closed, you can still see, Bridget noticed. “There’s always this flickering. Even when Monet’s eyesight left, he could somehow paint the landscape.”

Finding Home

After all, every molecule of the human body is nature. During our Hide and Seek, we went off individually into the deep woods to look for something that’s waiting to be found. Another poem by H.D. lingered on my journey:

shall I lie in the meadows sweet.

escaped,

escaped from the lot

of men,

like a faun in the desert,

like a wind

by the river bank?

again,

again

shall I rest

ecstatic in loneliness,

apart in the haunted forest

For our last final sharing circle, Anisa surprised us. From her photo lens bag came a bamboo mat, a teapot, and ceramic cups. She steeped goldenrod, which stems from the Latin “solidago” meaning solid, as it is used to heal wounds and make them whole. Flourishing in September, it is a pioneer plant that thrives wherever it is sown. Its presence nourishes the soil.

Coming home to ourselves and to each other was the budding theme. Bridget was the last to join the circle but hearing her howls in the distance we knew she grew near. “I went so far into the woods not wanting this to end . . . and I found this perfectly broken beech tree.”

Joanna also found a tree, smooth with two limbs for arms. Sitting in the groove of this tree, she reflected. She felt comforted, calm, home. “I value the playful space between sharing invitations and all the wilderness of nature,” she said. “I needed structure today but also space for the unexpected.”

Sally and I brought back mixed nuts. Beautifully, she shared the phases of life in the form of green and brown chestnuts. My experience was similar. I threw acorns to hear them bounce off the bark of grown trees and returned with a few nutshells, some whole, some broken. This invitation was a mixed bag, I confided in the group. Cradling a white wildflower by the roots, I set an intention to transplant it. So, like fauns in the desert, Joanna led me through gnarled vines, prolific raspberry bushes, and modest granite crystals to her beloved tree. Her temporary home became mine, and then the flower’s.

For future events, visit https://www.meetup.com/Lehigh-Valley-Forest-Therapy-Meetup-Group/ 

Sienna

Don’t miss “The Secret”! Last performance tonight!

Bethlehem-born writer Hilda Doolittle — H. D. —  (1886-1961) is
the “Lehigh Valley’s most important literary figure.”

Last showing!

See it tonight!

(The marionettes are booked in Toronto tomorrow)

“The Secret” plays Tuesday, October 8 – 7:30-9:00p at Touchstone Theatre: http://festivalunbound.com/the-secret/

Touchstone 1

L1000185

photo by Ed Leskin

How to Festival UnBound

Festival UnBound
Ten days of original theatre, dance, music, art and conversation designed to celebrate and imagine our future together!
October 4-13