For a little over two years, She is Fierce co-producers Francesca “Cessa” Betancourt and Linnea Ingalls have been curating storytelling shows from the female and genderqueer perspective. This semi-annual event provides a platform for underrepresented voices to tell their stories.
“Watching someone declare their identity, or share something they think is hilarious, or say something they need to get off their chest even though it scares them to talk about, is such a beautiful thing to witness,” says Betancourt in an interview with Lonely Arts Club.
Ingalls added, “To fill our lives with stories and truths of others is a holistic and healing way to live, to truly be heard and seen for your story – the way you choose to tell it – is just empowering and healing as fuck.”
Betancourt and Ingalls found themselves producing this show after an inspiring trip to Rwanda. Betancourt explains, “[We] had a really long bus ride, so we decided to listen to podcasts together. One of the podcasts was a bunch of interviews of womxn on different topics and we tore through every episode. After we had devoured it all I was sitting and thinking – in maybe hour 8 of this bus ride (deliriously hot and dehydrated, but also very inspired) – about how I just didn’t hear enough voices like this. Stories or opinions or thoughts or feelings from non-cis men. So I turned to Linnea and said ‘Hey, if I wanted to produce a show that was women telling stories or speaking on a topic, would you help me?’ and she said, ‘Yeah, definitely.’ The rest is pretty much history.”
The next event will be their seventh co-production since the idea’s inception. At each She is Fierce (SiF) event, the audience votes between two themes for the next show by raising their hands in the audience.
“In our last show, Coming Home, the audience got to pick between Plot Twist! and Secrets, and they chose Secrets!” Ingalls exclaimed.
“She is Fierce: Secrets” will take place on Friday, April 26th and Saturday, April 27th at Copious in Ballard. Submissions for the show are being accepted right now!
The guidelines are fairly loose, Betancourt explains, “Your story shouldn’t be over 10 minutes when performed and it should be inspired by your own personal experience (as opposed to fiction or a play submission). We don’t allow storytellers to perform intolerant, marginalizing, or discriminatory content. But outside of that, it can really be anything. We want people to present pieces that are true to who they are and how they want to express it, and that can take a lot of forms.”
In fact, SiF stories can include an artistic collaboration during the performance. Betancourt continues, “This is also super open, and is up to the individual storyteller and artistic collaborator. Sometimes it’s a musician accompanying a story with their instrument. Sometimes it’s a movement piece that includes both people. Sometimes it’s a visual artist using the storyteller’s skin as the canvas. We just hope to see more people connecting and sharing stories in creative ways!”
Even if you’ve never told a story or performed on stage before, don’t worry. “You don’t have to be a professional performer to tell a good story. And don’t give a fuck about the audience, they are here for you (not the other way around) and so are we,” Betancourt assures. The co-producers will also offer as much (or as little) coaching as you desire ahead of the performance.
If you’re not quite ready to submit, you should still mark your calendars for the performances on April 26th and 27th.
“I knew that getting a chance to tell your story and be deeply seen and heard by others is a powerful experience. However, what I didn’t realize was the effect it would have on audience members. For every story that was told, there were always a few people in the audience who needed to hear it, to be validated, to feel they are not alone, whatever it was for them,” said Ingalls.
“There have been a lot of moments when a storyteller or audience member has expressed gratitude for this event, that I have felt the profound impact SiF has had. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and appreciative and we’re so so thankful for the amount of support we’ve received from our audience and from the artistic community,” Betancourt added.
If you’re female, femme, nonbinary, or genderqueer you can submit your story to firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the submission form at sheisfiercestories.org by Friday, February 22nd.
You can find She is Fierce on Facebook and Instagram @sheisfierceseattle or on their website at www.sheisfiercestories.org.
Kacie Rahm is a local storyteller and co-producer of The Moth in Seattle. Kacie grew up in your favorite local tourist destination, Lake Chelan. She attended Western Washington University and graduated with a degree in Creative Writing in 2012. Kacie’s day job is in commercial property management, and her many side hustles include: Producing a monthly StorySLAM for The Moth, running the “Storytelling Seattle” Facebook Group, writing for Lonely Arts Club, babysitting her much younger siblings, and being a dog mom to a very needy and elder chihuahua named Sula. Find her on Twitter @kacierahm or Instagram @kacieandsula.