Island Women Speak: A Multigenerational Storytelling Event on Deer Isle, Maine
Our deepest thanks to Opera House Arts for hosting IWS.
This unique event was inspired by The Moth and was premiered by Debbie at the Stonington Opera House on a cold winter’s night in January 2018. Following the five-minute story rule of The Moth, and under Debbie’s direction, eight local women from Deer Isle each performed a personal story that she had written and rehearsed. The women ranged in age from 21 to 91 and each decade was represented.
The audience loved the performances about universal themes such as falling in love, leaving home, why a path to public service, and more.
Island Women Speak was also inspired by Debbie’s experience performing with New York-based Generation Women in 2017. Generation Women, which continues monthly in NYC, is described as “an intimate literary salon… that creates space for intergenerational connection and community (between women).”
So popular was IWS’s premiere in January 2018, a new group of storytellers took to the stage in May 2018. This time it was seven women, ages 20 to 94, who performed stories on topics that affect life on an island including coming out as gay, dealing with depression and anxiety, and acknowledging white privilege and racism.
But a cold winter’s night was the perfect setting for this event. The third performance was in January 2019. The fourth in January 2020. And the fifth in January 2022. There was no performance in 2021 due to Covid.
The (pre-Covid) January 2020 performance drew our largest in-person crowd, packing the Opera House and creating notable warmth and intimacy between the audience and the seven women ages 25 to 84.
And then we were back. The most recent Island Women Speak was staged in January 2022.
The theme was Advice to my younger self and the event drew another large audience. Despite the continuing pandemic, dozens of community members came in person to the Opera House theatre. In addition, over 100 people tuned in from all around the country via a live stream. Creating our largest audience ever.
To watch videos of some of the performances, click here.
MEDIA COVERAGE in 2022
On WABI Channel 5 TV: Stonington Opera House’s Island Women Speak coming back for a brand new performance (Jan. 27, 2022)
In the Maine Sunday Times: At Stonington storytelling event, women speak to their past selves for posterity (Sunday Jan. 16, 2022) Or read online here.
PAST MEDIA COVERAGE:
Island Women Speak (Ellsworth American, Jan. 24, 2020)
Island women speak out about their lives (Ellsworth American, Jan. 28, 2019)
Island Women Speak shares life stories of eight local women (Island Ad-Vantages, Jan. 25, 2018)
Starting at the top.
January 2022 (L to R):
Top photo: Erin Walker, Kira Jones, Cathy Boyce, Susan Senecal, Buzz Masters, Debbie Weil (director), and Anne West, representing six different decades (20s to 70s).
January 2020 (L to R):
Sue Steed, Judith Keenan, Esther Adams, Debbie Weil, Brighid Doherty, Alix Sarain, Nancy Wynne. Click the names of the storytellers to see videos of their performances:
The theme: When life surprises you or… when things don’t turn out as expected
Photography: Dan Rajter
January 2019 (L to R):
Hazel Woodward (Team 20); Hollan Oliver (Team 30); Kristie Billings (Team 40); Kyra Alex (Team 50); Robin Alden (Team 60); Evelyn Duncan (Team 70); Lorraine Knowlton (Team 80); Debbie Weil.
Photography: Dan Rajter
May 2018 (L to R):
Amanda Larrabee (Team 30); Ginger Reiman (Team 90); Judith Jerome (Team 70); Melissa Jones-Bayley (Team 40); Suzy Shepard (Team 60); Becky Siebert (Team 50); Nicole Nolan (Team 20); Debbie Weil (producer and host).
January 2018 (L to R):
Debbie Little Wyman (Team 70); Anne Burton (Team 80); Kathleen Billings (Team 50); Cherie Mason (Team 90); Morgan Witham (Team 30); Jennifer Eaton Larrabee (Team Almost 40); Asia Eaton (Team 20); Debbie Weil (producer and host); Katy Rinehart (Team 60).
2018 photography: Lily Felsenthal
Our first event (Jan. 2018) was written up in the local paper, the Island Ad-Vantages, highlighting our speakers and why they chose to participate: Island Women Speak shares stories of eight local women.
Channel 5 TV
We were also featured in a two-minute feature story on Channel 5 WABI-TV: Eight Women Share Stories of Life on Stonington and Deer Isle.
The inspiration: Generation Women in NYC
Thanks to Georgia Clark and Generation Women in NYC, who inspired Debbie Weil to bring a storytelling event for women across generations to Maine. As Georgia explains, “Generation Women blends a lively literary salon with the tradition of handing down wisdom from community elders.”
Photos: Debbie performed as Team 60 with Generation Women in October 2017. The first sentence of her story was “I’m 65 and I still have sex… ” and the mostly younger audience went wild. More photos of Generation Women events here.