Vox Feminista
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Vox Feminista

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"Four out of Four Stars"

Vox Feminista's "The Last Supper, To Go" is a topical theatrical event. Its appeal is probably limited only to those interested in the show's topic. In this case, that means only those people who eat food.

Seriously, this is a two-hour series of scenes, spoken word and film clips that should be experienced by anyone interested in getting conscious about what they put in their mouths. Not only because "The Last Supper" is chock full of factoids about what we use to build these temples of ours, but because the six-woman creative team, including producer/writer/artist Joy Boston, and writer/performers Oak Chezar, Andrea Gibson, Nancy Norton, Michele Arrieta, Raven and Libby, serves up the show in such a deliciously clever, silly, irreverent and subversive way.

"The Last Supper" is a loud, clanging dinner bell calling us to wake up to what's happened to our food supply during the past 40 years.

The show is divided into 12 segments, each one compelling in its own right. Here are some of the highlights.

The performance kicks off with a filmed segment in which a character called Lesbo The Clown (Norton) interviews random people on the Pearl Street Mall about food. She cheerily quizzes passersby about their eating habits and enlightens them about fun facts like how there is mercury in our fish supply thanks to acid rain. Learning about poison was never so palatable.

In the first live-acted scene, Raven plays Jesus, surrounded by some disciples (hence "The Last Supper"). The group partakes in some pot, gets the munchies and heads out on a very funny venture for fast food.

Vampyra — played by Oak Chezar — brings us commentary on current news. Her rage-fueled rant takes aim at politicians on both sides of the aisle, and it is as pointed and funny as most anything you'd see on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show."

Andrea Gibson delivers the most poignant vignette of the evening, a poem she's penned about the suffering poor. Her voice rises in tone as the barrage of imagery describing children not getting enough to eat flows from her mouth. Safe to say, your mother wasn't thinking this graphically when she told you to finish your peas because there were people starving in China.

An "American Idol"-esque scene pits various foods — a bewildered cow, a sexy banana, a happy kale and a hilariously dull block of tofu — in a competition to be the next "American Edible."

A monologue titled "Cornography" eloquently points out how big agri-business has co-opted corn, the grain held sacred by Mayan culture, and is feeding it to us in increasingly unhealthy proportions.

Another of the funniest — and most surprising — bits in the show is when the Vox crew points their commentary at a local sacred cow.

Sounding the alarm about the fallout from bloated agri-business, the unknown dangers of genetically modified food, the environmental cost of buying produce that's been shipped thousands of miles or the inhumane treatment of cattle in this country's slaughterhouses is to be expected. But dissing on Whole Foods?

Libby gets lots of laughs as a greedy, ambitious, corporate WF cheerleader who cloaks her public persona with New Agey niceness. As Vox points out, there's a reason the popular grocery chain gets the nickname "Whole Paycheck."

Which brings us to the solution side of "The Last Supper, To Go." The Vox crew are activists, which mean their calling includes more than social criticism.

A short documentary about a group in Los Angeles highlights a growing urban farm movement. Others highlight locals involved in the permaculture movement — a self-sustainable style of living — and the Cultiva Project, a Boulder County-based organization that involves teens in farming.

The local Community Supported Agriculture farms get lots of play in the show, as well.

The actresses even poke fun at themselves in the final scene, in which two lesbian shoppers are trying to be totally food-conscious as they shop at Whole Foods for quinoa (and, yes, there's a great bit about how to pronounce the ancient grain) and kale.

The gals fall into some hero worship when they encounter a Vox member in the store. That is, until they see she's drinking coffee from Starbucks.

If getting conscious about what you eat sounds too serious or depressing, let me stress again that the secret ingredient in Vox's recipe is laughter. It makes "The Last Supper, To Go" a highly digestible evening of theater.

- Daily Camera


Vox Feminista, Boulder's group of radical vaudevillians, is an ambitious company. The troupe's performances always seek to serve several purposes. They strive to bring comfort to the fringe dwellers, challenge the powerful, inform and entertain all.

True to form, the troupe's latest effort, "Strange Cages -- The Human Zoo," meets the above criteria. "Strange Cages" clangs loudly on the bars of institutions, ideologies, addictions and artifacts that can or do imprison us. It's a funny, disturbing, informative and, at times, moving collection of original works.

The show combines short films, spoken word, comic skits, visual art, performance art, song and a boisterous bird lady. Most all of it is accessible.

"Strange Cages" uses more cast-made film vignettes than recent Vox shows. One short explains the need for a culture to have public places, where people can interact free from corporate agendas. The film documents a group attempting to take back a public place -- Denver's 16th Street Mall -- that's crowded by commercial interest.

Vox producer Joy Boston's film is a look into parts of her family tree, blended with criticism of an unjust judicial system. Oak Chezar narrates the history of a 19-year women's group effort at Greenham, England, one in which women endured brutality and imprisonment and eventually helped broker a nuclear disarmament treaty.

Chezar spent three years at Greenham.

Vox points a critical camera lens at animal zoos, too. By the time a leopard lets out a lonely, tortured moan at the end of a film about a trip to an animal zoo, the film has become difficult to watch.

Another short film features graphic and disturbing images of Palestinians suffering in Gaza during the Israeli occupation. Another shows soft, erotic images while poet and Vox member Andrea Gibson speaks a poem about the challenge of gender and feeling caged by pronouns.

Performed live, Gibson's poem about the 1981 massacre at El Mozote, El Salvador, perpetrated by U.S.-backed El Salvadoran military, is a stunning litany of grief and rage. Later, her ode to art and the impulse to create and express, is no less powerful.

When the Vox member who goes by the single letter J enters the stage in darkness just after intermission, she's wearing a black robe and singing gospel-style phrases. In the show's most personal, but most impenetrable -- or, at least, symbolic -- piece, J slowly disrobes and reveals her body painted red and scribbled with words, bound in a black rope, a phallus dangling from her midsection.

There's plenty of levity, too. Raven and Gibson play two babies in a playpen who make humorous social commentary from a toddler's unique perspective.

Holly Smokovitz plays a bird in several vignettes throughout the evening. In one scene, the feathered creature humorously pesters Raven about being imprisoned by her addiction to food and cigarettes -- all from inside her birdcage.

Chezar delivers a scathing and funny diatribe as Vampyra, a sharp-tongued social critic. Politics, the economy, the media, celebrities -- none are safe from her incisive word bombs.

The show's finale finds members of the ensemble singing the refrain "Cage of our lifestyle/cage of our deathstyle." The theme underscores the entire show. - Mark Collins Reviewer

"Vox Tackles White Privilege"

"For white people," says Oak Chezar, "seeing their own privilege is like fish seeing that they're in water."

Chezar and her troupe of performance artists, Vox Feminista, plan to make audiences step back and reassess their complacency about -- and complicity in -- the abuses of race and power in the United States. Their new stage show is called White Noise: Asleep in the American Dream, a followup to Vox's 2003 production, White Lies. With Noise, Chezar and comrades Joy Boston, Mona Estrada, Andrea Gibson, Michele Arrieta, Libby Mann and Raven Tekwe take aim at hypocrisy and inequality through its satirical, multimedia mélange.

"Vox Feminista started out as a giant poetry reading that went on for four hours," she says of the group's origin sixteen years ago. "It was interesting, but it's become a lot more focused. Now we do things in a cabaret style: spoken word, drums, dance. I even have a fake news show on stage. I think we offend people all the time, but that's our tagline: ŒWe're here to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.'" - Denver Westword

"Vox was a huge hit at our University"

I first saw a Vox Feminista show 10 years ago, soon after I moved here. I have barely missed a show of Vox Feminista since then.

This year I had the pleasure of working with Vox Feminista to bring their show “Money” to the Naropa campus. This show was a great opportunity for a student group at Naropa, ‘People LIke Us’ to work with this extraordinary group of women activists, writers, poets, musicians, filmmakers, researchers, and multimedia whizzes who bring powerful insight to political issues. I have also been deeply impressed by their use of satire to voice the unspoken truths of our time.

The richness and ripeness of their political message is important for our community. I believe their contribution to discourse in our community is unique and critical, and something that should be supported so we may live with a more politically conscious and intentional way.

Vox Feminista offers us incisive political satire, infused with disturbing statistics and facts that most of us in our “consumer bubbles” do not want to hear about or deal with. What is the downside of our lifestyles and consumption habits? Nebulous or distant concepts like “toxic waste” are highlighted with a sense of urgency and personal responsibility in the dialogue that Vox promotes. When I brought them to Naropa, my intention was for our students to be exposed to the “vox gaze”, which I believed would be an interesting and innovative way for them to engage with some of the bigger issues of our time. Our students responded wonderfully to the Vox show, feeling inspired to accelerate their own activism and take it to a higher level. It is the special ability of Vox to take hard facts and deliver them in a a way that is -- no, definitely not sweetened, but impossible to ignore -- and it is this that makes Vox Feminista such an essential part of our community.

I always look forward to their newest show with a warm expectation of meeting like-minded people involved in cutting-edge social justice work, and also get a strong “reality check”. I know Boulder, Denver, Fort Collins all have their Vox devotees and I try to make it a point of inviting a friend who has not yet seen them to a show -- this being my way of infusing some political reality into our social interactions -- especially in places like Boulder-Denver, where sometimes “inconvenient truths” are often glossed over.

I am grateful for Vox Feminista’s existence and efforts, and I would like to offer this group any support I can in order for them to continue their important work.

Sandhya Luther
Dean of Students
Naropa University

- Sandyha Luther

"Vox Puts on another Thought Provoking Show!"

Voice of the People
Vox Feminista puts on yet another thought-provoking performance.

By Amber Taufen
Published on November 06, 2008 at 1:03am

If you want to see the world through a different lens — have your preconceived notions about society and reality upended and rearranged — then you need to attend one of Vox Feminista’s fantastic performances. It’s tough to explain a Vox show; suffice it to say that the group will take you on a trip to a whole new way of viewing life — and you won’t even have to consume any drugs on the way.

The latest Vox production, …And the Pursuit of Happiness, is no exception. “It really tries to explore all the different facets of happiness,” says Vox member Ben. “Political happiness, happiness through art, a bit about the war and how that war is perpetuating what we think is our pursuit of happiness: ownership and consumption.”

“It’s a work in progress,” adds Vox member Oak. “My intention is to make a truth-telling experience that runs counter to the shit that we hear in our popular culture, but we have a lot of different voices from the six of us on stage in this show, and it runs the gamut from really hard-hitting stuff about the war to a singing clit. It’s hard to make that be sad, so she keeps us cheered up.”

- Westword





Comforting the disturbed and Disturbing the comfortable!!

Vox Feminista is a multi-media, multi-passionate performance tribe of radicals bent on social change through cultural revolution. We are political activists who blend entertainment with education to inspire and awaken our audience to take action toward global justice.
We combine live skits, poetry, music, and video to create a powerful multimedia presentation that makes you laugh and cry out loud. Having honed our skills over the past twenty years, some of our touring performers include the following artists.

Andrea Gibson is not gentle with her truths. It is this raw fearlessness that has made her a kind of rockstar of the poetry world – a four time Denver Grand Champion who has headlined prestigious performance venues coast to coast with powerful readings on politics, global justice and gender issues. Now, on her fourth full-length album Yellowbird, Gibson’s truths are more intimate and reflective. A powerful live performer, Gibson was the winner of the 2008 Women of The World Poetry Slam (Detroit), and has placed 3rd in the world for the last 3 years by the iWPS. She won a DIY Poetry Book of the Year and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for her first book, “Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns.” She has been showcased on Free Speech TV, the documentary Slam Planet, NPR, Air America and Independent Radio Stations nationwide. Now, Gibson is distinguishing herself amongst the other performance poets by bringing her love of music into her current work.

Raven Tekwe has been performing with Vox Feminista since 1992. She was a professional magician for 15 years before turning her eye to activist theater. Her stage characters "Greta the biodeisel dyke" and "Tommy the Technology Addict" have carved their niche into peoples hearts. Her involvement with performance artists and bands led her to explore the world of recording, and she operates her own recording studio. She believes that everyone needs to have their voice heard.

Libby Mann is a video activist. A native of Oklahoma, she became interested in radical media while studying journalism at the University of Oklahoma; her interest expanded when, in 2004, she moved to Boulder to intern in the production department of Free Speech TV, one of the nation’s premiere alternative news channels. In 2004 she also saw her first Vox Feminista show, and sought to become a part of the movement immediately. Through the years, Libby has moved from the stage to the editing table, now given the responsibility of most of Vox’s video work. Vox Feminista has given Libby a conduit to make media according to her ethics. She believes mainstream media is rotten, and that corporate media, like all other facets of capitalism’s consumptive and destructive culture, needs to be eradicated. Her media mission is to present people with underreported and overlooked information and to offer alternatives and new tools with which to unearth their own truths. She is in the process of starting her own production space, Scissortail Productions, and has also worked with Boulder Pride, teaching the BOLD Out Youth Directors Journey Class. “This is pretty much my dream job, queer youth and filmmaking-yessssssss.” Libby enjoys playing outside with her dog and riding her bike; she also makes amazing guacamole.

Oak Chezar is a revolutionary, a performance artist, a dyke, and a writer who has been creating and performing with Vox Feminista for 18 years. Excessive quantities of higher education prepared her to take great notes. Excessive quantities of rage keep her going. Performing standup comedy as Vampyra, her alter ego, keeps her out of prison. The eclectic glories of A.D.H.D. make her a fascinating conversationalist. Oak's other art form is the pleasure and beauty of a simple life; she models alternative lifestyle as a genre of service: showing U.S.ians how to live joyfully with less stuff. From her hand built, recycled straw bale house, she wanders the mountains, memorizing patterns. Whilst working for the decimation of industrial civilization she carries water.