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The Female Role Model Project

Four engaging women perform in this breezy high tech encounter session with audience help that includes projected brain waves and a celebrity gameshow.

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Tjasa Ferme, Gina Simone Pemberton, Yiqing Zhao and Meggan Dodd in a scene from “The Female Role Model Project” (Photo credit: David Nicholson)

Darryl Reilly

Darryl Reilly, Critic

Kim Kardashian West, Melania Trump and Chinese popstar Bingbing Fan appear as wacky contestants on a philosophical gameshow hosted by Oprah Winfrey in the lighthearted, thoughtful and souped-up multimedia performance piece The Female Role Model Project. It’s a breezy 90-minute exploration of existence from a woman’s perspective with audience participation.

At times, cast members and audience volunteers wear headsets that visualize as projections of their brainwaves. These are coolly analyzed by “The DJ of our brains” Brooklyn College psychology professor Dr. Natalie Kacinik: “There’s a lot of gamma activity…” Dr. Kacinik is part of the team of technicians at laptops who are off to the extreme side in a vertical configuration.

The affable, multiracial cast of varying ages is comprised of its devisors Meggan Dodd, Tjasa Ferme, Gina Simone Pemberton and Yiqing Zhao. At 65, the spunky Ms. Dodd is the oldest and her interspersed recollections and observations make a great impact due to some striking revelations. Ms. Ferme created the work and developed it with director Ana Margineanu.

Tjasa Ferme in a scene from “The Female Role Model Project” (Photo credit: David Nicholson)

A significant aspect of the show is the company’s individual declarations of their youthful role models that include Peter Pan, Marilyn Monroe, Whitney Houston, Mulan and their mothers versus their mature revised selections.  Life from childhood to the present is briskly dramatized in sketches that cover topics such as menstruation, appearance, breast cancer, relationships and pregnancy.

The four performers exhibit more of their everyday personas rather than riveting acting and interlace their confessional asides with fictional additions to achieve an appealing universality. Their vignettes are combined with structured audience involvement. The centerpiece of this is when everyone is called up for an exercise where a variety of words such as flower, snow, money and shoes are spoken, and people move from side to side of the airy bare stage based on their perception as to whether these are masculine or feminine. Another bit has volunteers sitting across from two cast members for an interview. Questions from the audience are incorporated during the gameshow part with the winner voted on by the assembly.

Yiqing Zhao, Gina Simone Pemberton, and Meggan Dodd in a scene from “The Female Role Model Project” (Photo credit: David Nicholson)

Ms. Margineanu’s staging is an energetic affair of moving from segment to segment with flashiness through the collaboration of movement designer Joya Powell. They’re aided by the accomplished contributions of the technical team.  The unison of Justin Matthews’ sound design, Ayumu Poe Saegusa’s lighting design and John J.A. Jannone’s video design achieve an appropriate high-tech atmosphere. Brainwaves, words and accompanying images are projected on to the stage’s back and side walls.

The Female Role Model Project is an engaging communal encounter session ranging from lightweight to deep. It’s sincerity in concert with the neat technological trappings enables it to succeed at depicting its subject matter.

The Female Role Model Project (through December 2, 2018)

Transforma Theatre Inc.

3LD Art & Technology, 80 Greenwich Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, visit http://www.3ldnyc.org

Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission

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Darryl Reilly
About Darryl Reilly (571 Articles)
A native New Yorker, Darryl Reilly graduated from NYU with a BFA in Cinema Studies. For the Broadway League, (formerly The League of American Theatres and Producers) he developed, and for five years conducted their Broadway Open House Tours, which took visitors through The Theatre District and into several Broadway theaters. He contributed to Broadway Musicals Show by Show: Sixth Edition (Applause Books). Since 2013, he has reviewed theater, cabaret, and concerts for Theaterscene.net.

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