The spoken ‘WOeRD’: East Village festival showcases powerful work of women artists

WOeRD festival participants in East Village
Thinking outside the boxes, top row:Heather Litteer, Carolyn Morris, Ande Whyland, Julie Hair, Lyuwei Chen, Laura Kenner, Katrina Del Mar. Middle: Cary Curran, Maryjane Fahey, Yoshiko Chuma, Katrina Del Mar, Pamela Enz, Theo Kogan. Bottom: Bambi the Mermaid
Photo by Bob Krasner

Multi-talented East Village artiste Heather Litteer started the WOeRD (Women of Experience Reading Downtown) collective in 2006 and has seen it evolve over the years.

No longer just an occasion for spoken word performance, WOeRD’s upcoming “On the Verge” festival also includes an art show, documentary and experimental films, performance art, a play reading and probably a few surprises.

“I want to build a community that brings together different worlds,” states Litteer. “I want to make the artists feel seen and heard and for different people to get to know each other’s words, visions and passions in the hope of strengthening relationships and building new ones. “

That led Litteer to create, curate and produce the WOeRD’s “On the Verge” festival, which will take place between March 30 and April 2 at the wild project. In many respects, the event fits one definition of the term “festival” found on Google: “Collective and physical gatherings make a difference. There is profound symbolic value in the opportunity to experience something together as a community. Festivals offer such a platform by condensing our exposure to cultural activities over a specific time and place.”

Litteer is absolutely onboard with the idea of bringing together her community and breathing new life into it.

“I want to build a collective that is encouraging and inspiring,” Litteer explains. “We are all on this planet together, I want to be here for it and lift you up. I’ve been in showbiz, nightlife and the art world since I was 15 and have had so many “NO’s” along the way. I want to be the person that can say “YES.”

Laura KennerPhoto by Bob Krasner
Pamela EnzPhoto by Bob Krasner
Yoshiko ChumaPhoto by Bob Krasner
Helixx C. ArmageddonPhoto by Bob Krasner
Julie HairPhoto by Bob Krasner
Heather LitteerPhoto by Bob Krasner

A formidable writer and performer herself, Litteer will be onstage in the role of emcee while performers like Karen Finley — who is planning a NYC show of her own, “Covid Vortex Anxiety Opera Kitty Kaleidoscope Disco” in April. They will share the stage with a wide variety of women who are hoping that their experience will be as rewarding for them as for the audiences .

Cary Curran mentions that “the experience of performing my work is always terrifying, thrilling and, most unexpectedly, calming. I hope the audience will come out feeling inspired to tell their own stories – people want to hear them.”

Maryjane Fahey, creator of the “Glorious Broads” website, notes that a subject of her work is that “radical aging and feminism are one and the same…taking down the patriarchy, ageism and racism — it’s all one. I love to spread this to the young ones and keep each other fired up. I hope that the audience will turn this monologue into a living dialogue — giving space to rage-ism and celebration. The two can live together.”

Carolyn Morris tells us that “being a part of a new Women’s art collective is exciting and inspiring. It is an opportunity for me to continue to heal from the isolation of the past few years and share my views as a woman, along with my ever evolving relationship with New York City.”

Pamela Enz plans on her time onstage to be an “an exaltation of my soul — a connection to what’s left when one lets go of judgment and just lets it rip! I desire to float the hope that it’s not your trauma that defines you but what one makes of it. I offer that not as a challenge nor an easy process — but I hope to have my work suggest this thought as a comforting possibility.”

Julie Hair, a musician who was one of the founding members of 3 Teens Kill 4 and is currently producing music with Female Genius and Isolation Society, will be presenting an experimental film crafted from found footage.

“I’m hoping that it will elicit a visceral response or create a mood,” Hair says. “I love the fact that this collective includes artists working in word-centric forms as well as in arts that meet the eye. A lot of us cross over but we can all inspire each other even if we swim in different streams. It’s a brain trust/platform/incubator.”

Katrina Del MarPhoto by Bob Krasner
Theo KoganPhoto by Bob Krasner
Cary CurranPhoto by Bob Krasner
Maryjane FaheyPhoto by Bob Krasner
Another look: Top row, Katrina Del Mar, Theo Kogan, Helixx C. Armageddon, Lyuwei Chen, Cary Curran, Carolyn Morris, Julie Hair, Maryjane Fahey, Heather Litteer. Bottom, Pamela Enz, Ande Whyland, Bambi the Mermaid, Yoshiko Chuma, Laura KennerPhoto by Bob Krasner

In a completely different vein, Lyuwei Chen will be presenting her award winning short documentary about Litteer. She hopes that her film will “wake the humanity, bravery, and perseverance in everyone, showing them the role that courage in facing one’s obstacles and diverse perspectives can play in defining success.”

Theo Kogan, founding member of the beloved east Village band the Lunachicks, appreciates “ being a part of a community of fabulous people/women who support one another and are expressing their expressions via the arts.” Kogan assumes that the “the audience will walk away inspired “ and imagines them “maybe laughing, maybe in tears, maybe confused!”

Any way that it shakes out, Litteer is looking forward to some exciting performances from the “plethora of amazing, talented women” that she has gathered together this year and she’s already working on what’s next.

“I plan on making it a yearly thing, with dance parties, small salons, who knows what else. I want to put a spotlight on these women as well as to take it a step further and bring together more femme and non-binary persons. Everyone needs to be in the spotlight once in awhile.”

Schedule and ticket information can be found at thewildproject.org/performances/on-the-verge.