Or just read them…
Wonder Woman: A How To Guide for Little Jewish Girls
– Ed Malin
Wonder Woman really is a feminist icon, Cyndi Freeman points out in her one-woman show. And after you see Wonder Woman: A How To Guide For Little Jewish Girls you will probably agree.
Freeman relates how in the ‘70s she learned to assert herself despite a loud family not interested in what she had to say. The TV show of Wonder Woman starring Lynda Carter set an example. To set the record straight, the first season of the show was set (like the original 1940s comic books), during World War II. Wonder Woman routinely got herself out of trouble and showed the Nazis who was boss. Only later was the TV show moved from CBS to ABC and set in the present, with a quite different feel. Freeman tells how Wonder Woman got her on the path to founding a feminist theater company and celebrating her body through burlesque performance.
Equally fascinating for me was the section on Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston. He is also known for creating the polygraph test (not so different from Wonder Woman’s “lasso of truth”), which he believed would show people how to live life being more true to themselves. Wonder Woman (modeled after the ancient Amazons but violent only when pursuing justice) was an idea of how women could lead the world better than the men who had recently caused two world wars. And, should anyone say that a man can’t be a feminist, Marston lived with two women in a polyamorous relationship and created his heroine in tribute to his indomitable wife Elizabeth (who lived to be 102). Interviews with Marston’s family provide some more wonderful anecdotes.
Freeman’s performance is inspiring, uplifting, and ends with a little burlesque. She relates how a history of breast cancer in her family has led doctors to suggest a double mastectomy and hysterectomy, despite her not having cancer. Why would I want to cut out everything that makes me a woman?, she asks. A profoundly moving question indeed. Hats off to accomplished playwright/performer David Drake for directing this show with so much unapologetic love for life.
Wonder Woman: A How To Guide For Little Jewish Girls – Being Verklempt Was Never So Much Fun (FRIGID New York 2011)
– Dianna Martin
When you were growing up, did you ever have characters from TV or film that you looked up to and felt that if you could be like them, you could do anything? Cyndi Freeman sure did, and she didn’t pick any run-of-the-mill hero…she picked THE woman…you know…the awesome chick in the invisible jet who could tie up any creep with her golden lasso and bounce bullets off of her groovy bracelets…all while wearing practically nothing in red, white, & blue.Wonder Woman: A How To Guide for Little Jewish Girls is part feminist hero worship and trivia; part life story of growing up more geek than hero with family dysfunction; and part tale of using the strength within to battle some of the scariest nemeses of all: life’s curve-balls.
Freeman, no stranger to one-woman shows and a regular performer on the theatre festival and burlesque circuit (the latter under the name of Cherry Pitz), opens up about everything from a gun-toting father going after an AWOL son – to the realization that our human mentors can be disappointingly human.
Insightful and heart-wrenching as well as hilarious, Freeman has a knack for making a connection with her audience and making them feel as if they’re having a private conversation with her. With each section of the show, you feel more and more intimate with Freeman; what starts out as an interesting history of one of the most iconic female figures of the 20th century slowly becomes a more introverted perspective on how Freeman’s life was shaped. Her flair for comedy and the outrageous intersperses with moments when she reveals current personal battles that can only be dealt with by sheer will, inner strength and the confidence in yourself that you learned from your TV heroes…or maybe a rejuvenating jaunt on Paradise Island of the Amazons.
Not one to miss!
Wonder Woman written and performed by Cyndi Freeman, well directed by David Drake, is a charming piece about her lifelong relationship with the comicbook character, filled with autobiographical stories about her adventures with her family and about the life of her breasts.
Freeman has a vivid comedic personality, and her story is absolutely delightful, including her seque into Burlesque, with a final super strip to the skimpiest Wonder Woman costume on earth. She’s a fearless, charismatic real entertainer with a twinkle in her eye.
How Heroes Keep You Sane: A Review of a One-Woman Wonder Woman Show
– Emily Asher-Perrin
Most theatre critics will state for the record that your typical one-(wo)man show is about one person; the person who’s performing it. It’s hardly a point that needs to be argued, especially when the piece is created from autobiographical material.
Okay, maybe I will argue the point. I think, more often, it’s about two people. Someone on the periphery, someone important to the performer who takes up all of their attention, even while they’re speaking directly to you for an hour or more. You’re invited in to hear about this ephemeral figure who you’ll never see. They’re just offstage, or lurking in the corner of your eye. It’s usually a love interest, or a family member, maybe a teacher or a friend.
But for Cyndi Freeman, it’s Wonder Woman.
Freeman’s show, Wonder Woman: A How To Guide For Little Jewish Girls, chronicles her development from timid Bostonian girl to NYC burlesque diva and how the lady in red, gold and blue helped her get to where she is today. It’s a story about growing up and staying young, about loving yourself on your own terms and remembering that it’s always cool to fight Nazis. In short, it’s about life and the things we do to flourish and enjoy every minute of it.
Freeman’s love for the Amazon woman is infectious, even for those who may have never found themselves impressed by the crowned superheroine. The audience is treated to hefty doses of unlikely (yet entirely true) background on the franchise; that William Moulton Marston, the man who created her, truly believed women were superior to men, that he lived in a polyamorous relationship with two women who continued their relationship after his death. Freeman tells us of how she went to the Wonder Woman Museum, owned by Marston’s family, and how they reverently talked about his wife Elizabeth, a clear inspiration for Diana’s character.
We are given a special pass into stories of childhood, the creation of Freeman’s own Amazon character who would fight alongside Diana. The dreamed up self-insert was aptly named Moon Goddess and she sounded like she would have been much cooler than Diana’s actual screen sister, Drusilla. It’s more comical for the fact that stories like these are rooted in memories we can all likely relate to. Be honest, haven’t we all done that as children? I imagined I was Indiana Jones’s daughter as a wee bairn. (And then he ended up with a son. Needless to say, I was highly disappointed.)
But what touched me the most during that performance had nothing to do with the history of Wonder Woman or childhood antics or even the empowering tale that tracked Freeman’s rise as a burlesque queen. Instead it was the point where she talked of her quest for a mentor, a guiding presence who she could look up to. We all know the saying “never meet you heroes,” and Freeman’s personal experience in meeting one of hers only proved the point. Which is why she came back to Wonder Woman, the only figure in her life who had been capable of consoling her in times of need, of encouraging her to take on the world when it looked the most bleak.
She pointed out that when your heroes come from the pages of a comic book or through a television screen, they can never let you down. They stay forever, in your mind, that same pillar of whatever-you-need-most. They are unchangeable and steadfast and true.
How true that is.
Which is why, whenever I see a child accused of being “escapist” or “out of touch” in their love for this book series or that movie, my heart breaks a little and I rush to defend them. It’s not the place of well-adjusted adults to deprive anyone of solace in the imagination. We all need our hero. For Cyndi Freeman, it’s Wonder Woman.
Wonder Woman: A How To Guide For Little Jewish Girls has just finished up at the Frigid Festival, but there might be more performances in the works. We’ll be sure to keep you posted.
Emily Asher-Perrin’s hero was Luke Skywalker. Which was helpful, as Jedi are so chill. You can bug her onTwitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.
Wonder Woman: A How To Guide for Little Jewish Girls
– Byrne Harrison
Wonder Woman. Looking at her costume, it’s hard to believe that she is a voice for female empowerment. She could quite easily be ignored as another example of unrealistic male fantasy.
Well, once you’ve seen Cyndi Freeman’s one-woman show, featuring excellent direction by Obie Award-winner David Drake, you’ll see Wonder Woman for what she is, an empowered woman and feminist icon who has helped generations of women, including Cyndi Freeman, become empowered themselves.
Part history lesson (did you know Wonder Woman’s creator invented the polygraph?), part coming-of-age tale, with just a touch of burlesque to shake things up, Freeman’s show is fun and inspirational. You might find yourself spinning in place (a la Lynda Carter) just to see if you can transform into a star-spangled Amazon.