Gloria Steinem is often considered the face of the Women’s Movement—though there is more to that story. But she is certainly the face of Off-Broadway’s Gloria: A Life, now playing an extended run at New York City’s Daryl Roth Theatre.
Written by Emily Mann, the work feels like the collision of a memoir, a play, and a Steinem seminar, as it marches through Steinem's personal history and the chronology and oft-forgotten founders of the Women's Movement towards the present day, each performance culminating in a talking circle with audience members, guided by the cast.
On January 19, the cast of the bio-play joined New York City’s Women’s March. Having been on the inside of her life story, marching with Steinem grounded actor Francesa Fernandez McKenzie in the show she performs eight times a week. “It's always a joy to hear Gloria speak. Whether at the rally or in her living room, she is able to create space where people feel seen, loved, and understood. Her passion is driven by her love of people,” she says.
That passion reinvigorated the cast, particularly for their performance later that evening. “It really lit a fire under my butt! Our evening show the day of the March felt like a rock concert,” says McKenzie. “We were all riding the high off the March.”
Inspired by Steinem and artist Staceyann Chin (“Everyone needs to know who Staceyann Chin is,” McKenzie urges), the March reassured McKenzie’s confidence in the message of her art. “Activism has always been a huge party of my artistry,” she says. “So many people have expressed concern over the division of leadership in the Women's March at our talking circles. Going to the Women's March and experiencing it for myself I felt quite the opposite; I felt very connected to everyone there.”
See photos of Steinem and the cast of Gloria below: