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If chocolate could beckon with a human voice, it would do so in a Barry White baritone. At least, that’s how the confection sounded to Sara Jane, the chocoholic-turned-yogi narrator of Bulletins From Fatland, a one-woman show produced by Horizons Theatre. In the piece, which explores body image and the three-letter “F” word, actor Caren Anton portrays several different women—including a WASP-y mom who passes her twisted body issues on to her daughter, a female sumo wrestler who is accepting of her bulk and puts it to good use, and an East London housewife who believes Oprah to be the patron saint of fat girls, if not everyone.
“We’re still being told constantly how we’re supposed to look,” says Anton. “The mode may be more Ruben-esque or more ‘Twiggy,’ but we’re still being told, ‘If you don’t look this way, you better do something about it.’”
Bulletins is part of “Still Going Solo,” a play series that opened Horizons Theatre’s 30th-anniversary season earlier this month. Bulletins, with its motley crew of characters all struggling with the same issue, is perfectly in line with the theater’s mission to highlight both the differences and the commonalities of women through art. “I like the fact these are all diverse women, at various stages of acceptance and redemption,” says Anton of the work. “Some are at the beginning, and some have almost completed their journey.”
The monthlong run at the Warehouse Theater also includes three other pieces: Communion, in which writer Kumani Gantt and writer/actor Vanessa Thomas explore the intersection of spirituality and sexuality; Terri Allen’s offbeat cabaret piece Deep Thoughts and Dark Chocolate; and Frida Vice-Versa, featuring co-writer Marian Licha as Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. “I think it’s just really so indicative of what Horizons is all about,” says Anton of the series. “Showcasing women in theater, in all facets of theater.”
All of the works featured in “Still Going Solo” are one-woman shows, which Leslie Jacobson, the artistic director of Horizons Theatre, sees as the perfect way for her company to ring in the big 3-0. “Horizons Theatre has given voice to human experience—through the lens of women’s experiences—for 29-plus years,” says Jacobson. “Solo work is so personal, it’s giving the artist’s voice full range and seemed like an appropriate way start the 30th season.”
“Still Going Solo” is an outgrowth of the Horizons’ “Going Solo,” another series of single-actor performances that was staged in 2004. Although Jacobson knows it’s difficult for theatergoers to commit to seeing four separate works, she believes audiences will appreciate the common threads that run between them. “Body, relationships, and how women relate to men or other women run as themes through these pieces,” says Jacobson. “These are things that happened not because I, as the producer, said, ‘You have to do this.’ It organically grew out of the fact that women were creating them.”
Having been involved with Horizons for all three of its decades, Jacobson says that though some things—such as opportunities for women in theater—have changed for the better, many of the same struggles being addressed by the company when it was started in the ’70s still exist today. And she hopes that “Still Going Solo,” and the company’s work as a whole, will continue to address such issues in the company’s unique way. “A theater like Horizons doesn’t portray obvious political issues in obvious political ways,” she says. “We try to give voice to things on women’s minds that as human beings should be on all of our minds.” —Sarah Godfrey
“Still Going Solo” runs to Sunday, Dec. 3, at the Warehouse Theater, 1021 7th St. NW. $20. (703) 391-2929. See CityList for a complete schedule.