SPEAK showcases women's voices from the Yampa Valley | SteamboatToday.com

SPEAK showcases women’s voices from the Yampa Valley

Newcomer and local Colorado Mountain College professor Jessica Gantt-Shafer laughs as she and 10 other women rehearse their upcoming performances as part of Speak, Performances from Women in the Yampa Valley. Gantt-Shafer will regale the audience with a short essay on her time as a hotline volunteer. (Danielle Zimmerer Photography)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Want to hear the real story behind dating on Tinder or taking calls on an anonymous hotline? Or how about men sending inappropriate pictures via cellphone?

Women from the four corners of Routt County will be hitting Oak Creek, Hayden and Steamboat Springs in a one-of-a-kind show, called SPEAK: Performances from Women in the Yampa Valley.

The event, in its third year, features music, comedy and the spoken word and is sponsored by the nonprofit arts group, Young Bloods Collective. This year’s performance theme is “Building Bridges,” and while women are the performers and organizers, the director cautions against stereotypes.

If you go

SPEAK: Performances from Women in the Yampa Valley
• 7 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Hayden Granary, 198 E. Lincoln Ave., Hayden
• 7 p.m. March 1 at Circle R Gastropub, 202 Sharp Ave., Oak Creek
• 7 p.m. March 2 at Chief Theater, 813 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs

Tickets are $20 at YoungBloods
Collective.org/speak

“It’s not a man-hating show by any means,” said SPEAK creator and Hayden-based geologist Emily Waldron. “A fair amount of the men showing up are dads, brothers, husbands and a contingency of people that are trying to be more socially conscious.”

Waldron said SPEAK grew out of “The Vagina Monologues,” which Steamboat Springs hosted for a number of years. The Vagina Monologues was a ground-breaking, one-woman show, based on hundreds of interviews with women, that addressed sexuality and the social stigma of abuse and rape.

Before long, local women like Waldron decided it would be great to feature local talent with original ideas based on a different theme every year. And like “V-Day,” which grew out of the Vagina Monologues, SPEAK’s $20 ticket price will go toward funding women-related causes.

Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs professor Jessica Gantt-Shafer and her husband moved to the Yampa Valley last summer and were thrilled to discover Young Bloods Collective and its SPEAK offshoot.

“Being part of collectives with women has been a big part of my life,” said Gantt-Shafer. “I found this ad about SPEAK, and while I haven’t done a lot of performing, I felt like I had a story to add.”

Hayden-based Geologist Emily Waldron founded Speak three years ago so local women can tell their stories through public performances. The poet helps organize the women and their content after a panel selects them from applicants. No experience is necessary. Under Waldron’s direction, the performances will help raise money for women’s causes throughout the Yampa Valley. (Photo by Danielle Zimmerer)

Gantt-Shafer will offer an essay on her time as a phone volunteer for a hotline and how she had to quickly build “unique” bridges with her clients.

The building bridges theme was the idea of singer/songwriter Tera Johnson, who’ll be performing in SPEAK for her third year.

“A lot of times, as feminists, people are thinking we’re trying to alienate the opposing gender, but that’s not true. We build bridges,” said Johnson, who lives in Stagecoach with her husband and three kids.

Johnson will sing an original song about the mother-daughter bond, or bridge, she has built with her daughter.

“Some day, mom isn’t going to be here,” Johnson said. “We need to learn to survive and grow. That’s how it is.”

Gantt-Shaffer said, while she teaches public speaking for a living, she’s nervous as a first-time performer. She said the rehearsals have been helpful, while giving her insight into women of the Yampa Valley.

“I’ve been surprised how hard I’ve laughed or how one line in a personal essay has made me tear up or how a song’s moved me,” Gantt-Shaffer said. “It’s really just people sharing the highs and lows of their lives.”

Speak has grown each year in Steamboat Springs and Oak Creek, but organizers say Hayden attendance has been static. They hope that changes this year.

In fact, one performer from Hayden has an interesting title to her piece: “A One Woman Show — Wildflowers and Dick Pics.”

“We’ve seen a variety of pieces submitted this year,” said Young Bloods Collective President Sista Luna. “Some of it’s almost like stand-up comedy.”

A large part of the ticket sales go to a local nonprofit that benefits women in some way. Past recipients have included Advocates, Planned Parenthood and United Way’s Routt to Work program.

The 2019 SPEAK performances will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Granary in Hayden, at 7 p.m. March 1 at The Circle R in Oak Creek and 7 p.m. March 2 at the Chief Theater in Steamboat Springs.

Visit https://www.youngbloodscollective.org/speak for tickets or more information about the event.

Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today.


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