I’m quickly becoming a regular at Joe’s at The Public Theater, they host Women of Letters and I always feel inspired when I listen to these women share a part of themselves in this intimate setting. This show, on Wednesday, November 4, the guests read “A Letter to My Could Have Been.” As always, this is interpreted in a variety of ways, never the same.
This month the group was the most eclectic that I have seen:
– Acclaimed playwright and screenwriter of Academy Award-nominated Beasts of the Southern Wild, Lucy Alibar, wrote about growing up with a lot of “goddamned cats” and her mother who disappeared from her life at a young age.
– Writer, former dominiatrix and author of Whip Smart, Melissa Febos, the adopted daughter of a Puerto Rican sea captain and a psychologist and she described how her life could have been different if she had grown up with her real father and his last name. Powerful stuff.
– Revered writer, editor and co-founder of The Toast, Mallory Ortberg, wrote about how her life could have been different if she took the horrible, patriarchal advice of a business manager she spoke with at an informational interview. Hilarious and horrifying.
– Beloved actress/comedian, vlogger and host of MTV’s Decoded, Franchesca Ramsey wrote about her friend who opened her eyes and heart to the transgender community and former friendships. I subscribe to Franchesca on YouTube and I went to the show because I knew of her work before seeing her in this space. This was one of the deeper letters of the night.
– Acclaimed rapper and Sisterhood of Hip Hop star, Nyemiah Supreme, wrote about how she could have grown her career in hip-hop, making certain connections. It was interesting to see how important knowing certain people can help or hurt a career in entertainment, and specifically, music.
– Storyteller, comedian and writer, Meg Ferril, wrote a heartfelt and funny letter about how she had split into two selves while doing stand-up comedy at an open mic night, and how she told a tampon joke to a bunch of men. Her life had grown from that point and she felt lucky.
All the women wrote exceptional pieces. There were a few tears and lots of laughter. The theme of the letters is always worth reflecting on based on the experiences of others and in your own life. I cannot recommend this show enough!
Is there an experience in your life that would prompt you to write about “what could have been”?
ABOUT WOMEN OF LETTERS
The shows are funny and sad, and never recorded or filmed – part of the magic is that they exist in the moment, and the events are a safe story-telling space.
In the last five years, Women of Letters events have raised over $750,000 for charity. The New York shows donate proceeds to the New York Women’s Foundation (a cross-cultural alliance of women promoting economic justice for women and families in New York City).
Women of Letters was founded in 2010 in Melbourne, Australia, by writers Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire. Since its inception, Women of Letters has enjoyed sellout success in Australia and toured internationally to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Austin (SXSW), London, Dublin, Edinburgh, Wellington and Indonesian cities Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Ubud.
Penguin Random House has released five bestselling anthologies of letters from the live shows. The most recent volume, Airmail, is the first international edition.