Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pictures and Statistics from Beyond Barbie - a huge success!

Beyond Barbie: Piecing Together Today's Woman ended in early November with "Life in the First Person", a series of readings by seven different writers.  It, like all the other performances, was stellar.  I have been blown away by the deep sharing that took place during each evening.  The topics were completely varied: Birth, Body Modification, Dance, Spoken Word, Eating Disorders, the Blues, and Intimate Partner Abuse and each was fascinating, rich, fun, poignant, spirit-filled, empowering, interesting, etc., etc., etc.!

Khalima and Dawn Flores after Khalima's performance of Longing at Unity, one of the connections made through Beyond Barbie
Linda Goodman, Lisette Johnson, Megan Hicks, and Susan Singer at Through the Fire
I spent some time trying to figure out what they had in common - what I came up with was the authenticity of the performers.  They all presented their material from the heart, sharing what was true for them openly, without artifice, and the audience members held the space safely, recognizing the sacredness of that deep sharing.  We covered topics which weren't comfortable to be with like the death of a baby, being shot by ones husband, female circumcision, for example, yet we were able to be with the discomfort and feel compassion for the tellers because we could see their humanity.  No Hollywood manipulation was necessary.  No Jerry-Springer-like over-the-top histrionics.  The Truth was sufficient.  It was "Reality TV" at its best.  My heart was flooded with compassion and empathy with each story.

Yet the stories weren't all sad either.  One woman shared about being photographed by Playboy when she was a teen.  Another shared a beautiful birth story.  We watched dances that expressed great joy and spirituality, and we listened to Gaye Adegbalola sing the Blues full of empowerment and heartfelt goodness.  The range was extensive, just like in real life, condensed into seven evenings of community.
I gathered some numbers from the series which might be interesting to you:

302 - VERY approximate number of different people who attended one or more of the performances.
500 - approximate total number of attendees over the course of seven weeks
$4880 - amount of money brought in through sales of tickets for Beyond Barbie
$413 - amount donated to charity - Eating Disorder Coalition
27 - number of artists paid by BB for performing
100+/- - greatest # of people at one night - Life in the First Person
197 (and growing) - number of FB fans of BB
15 - # of people who've expressed an interest in keeping BB going
1000's - number of new connections and friends made through BB!
5 - the number of articles written about Not Barbie or Beyond Barbie (RVAMag,, Style Weekly, Richmond Times-Dispatch, and Richmond Magazine
Sheila Gray, performer at Life in the First Person

“Beyond Barbie – Caught in a Fun House Mirror”, by Matt Wetsel,, Nov 2

“Exhibit Reveals More Than Just Skin”, by Alix Bryan,,, Sept 21

“Naked Truth: Susan Singer’s ‘Not Barbie’ lets it all hang out at Crossroads Art Center”, Style Weekly,, Sept 13

“REAL WOMEN: Exhibit Focuses on Beauty and Body Image”, Richmond Times Dispatch,, Sept 12

“Body Work”, Richmond Magazine, by Anne Dryfuss,, Sept

Linda Goodman and Denise Bennett at Through the Fire
By all accounts, the shows were a fabulous success, and I'm deeply grateful to each and every person who participated either by performing or attending or buying ads for the program or providing us with space (thanks, Jenni Kirby and everybody else at Crossroads!) or by supporting those of us who did all those things.  I truly believe that this series helped shift the paradigm of how we see women.  We have come to recognize the strength in being real, honest, authentic and vulnerable.  Ironically, it is not a place of weakness - it is a place of strength and empowerment.

May we each go onward from this day forward to be our authentic selves, Beyond Barbie!

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