Hudson Reporter Archive

Shows celebrate Women’s History Month

Weehawken resident Emma Palzere-Rae has been involved with the Womenkind Festival, featuring one-woman performances in honor of Women’s History Month, for 10 years now. Palzere-Rae serves as the show’s producer and is also a performer, this year doing a re-creation of famed author Harriet Beecher Stowe, who penned the literary classic “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in the 19th century. However, for the first nine years of its existence, the festival was held in New York. Considering that Palzere-Rae resides in Hudson County, as do several of the other performers involved with the festival, she was hoping to find a location closer to home. “We always wanted to take the festival to other places,” Palzere-Rae said. “Doing the Festival in Manhattan was one thing. It was always a dream of mine to take it to other audiences. Since a lot of us are from Hudson County, we thought it would be perfect.” Palzere-Rae approached Rev. Richard Lampert of the Grace Episcopal Church in Union City and the church agreed to be the site for this year’s festival. “Grace Church looks at the festival as taking on a community project and it makes them happy to help,” Palzere-Rae said. “It’s a very good partnership.” The festival will have three performances, namely Friday, March 31 at 8 p.m., and Saturday, April 1 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. There will be about 12 different one-woman performances, including Palzere-Rae’s re-creation of Harriet Beecher Stowe, folk music, a comic monologue from 1912 about women’s suffrage, and a woman re-creating Harriet Tubman, the founder of the Underground Railroad. The majority of performers hail from Hudson County. Other than Palzere-Rae of Weehawken, Bridget K. Brown, another Weehawken resident, will perform the story of Frances Gidden Berko, a disabled woman who “dared to be different.” The players also include Michele LaRue of Secaucus, who will perform the anti-suffrage comedic monologue; Carol Lester of Jersey City playing her acoustic folk guitar, and Susan Levin, a teacher at Stevens Tech, who will perform songs by women composers from 1650-2000, most of which are operas. “We have a lot of performers from Hudson County,” Palzere-Rae said. “And there’s a lot of talent in the area that hasn’t been tapped. We’re excited to have something like this happening in the community, right in the neighborhood. It doesn’t happen often. We usually have to go to the city to see something like this, or get in the car and drive for hours. This is right there. And we’re excited about it.” Palzere-Rae chose Harriet Beecher Stowe as a character, because she worked at the author’s historic home in Hartford, giving tours. “I always had an interest in her,” Palzere-Rae said. “I wanted to do something involving the Civil War, but I didn’t want to be a soldier’s wife or something like that. The more I thought of it, the more I thought that she was perfect. And a lot of people don’t realize, but Harriet Beecher Stowe was a brave woman, a mother of seven who wrote more than 30 books as a working mother. She came from a family of preachers that had high moral standards and she was able to channel her creative talents with a work like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which has had such a huge impact on society, even today. She was truly a remarkable woman, someone worth honoring.” Palzere-Rae also said that historical perspectives excite her, which is why the festival has the historic flavor to it. “I think there will be a lot of people who will come to the festival and come away saying, ‘I didn’t know that,’ ” Palzere-Rae said. “But they walk away entertained as well. And that’s the most important aspect. And I’m excited that the local community can come out and see it. It’s definitely diverse and definitely entertaining.” The Womankind Festival will take place at the Grace Episcopal Church, 3901 Park Avenue, Union City, on Friday, March 31, at 8 p.m. and on Saturday, April 1, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Suggested donations for the event are $5.00 for one event and a festival pass for $7.50. For further information and reservations, contact 863-6334.

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