One Woman Shows
Tales from Beyond the Ban: Folktales from Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen
This is a spoken word concert of oral tradition tales from the seven predominantly-Muslim countries named in President’s initial Travel Ban. The folktales are bookended by excerpts of oral histories of international graduate students from some of those countries. In excerpts or in the full 75-minute version, Tales from Beyond the Ban has been featured at a World Refuge Day event in Columbia, MO, the National Storytelling Network’s 2018 Summit in Kansas City; the RaceBridges online project in Chicago; the Hans Christian the Grapevine series at Busboys and Poets in DC. The University of Missouri has showcased it through the Missouri Scholar’s Academy, Women’s and Gender Studies Department Graduate Conference and a 2017 Unbound Book Festival event for undergrads. The entire performance was showcased at the 2019 Unbound Book Festival at Stephens College in Columbia, MO. For adults as well as middle school and up.
“I heard you at the Unbound Book Festival yesterday. I enjoyed your presentation so much from the selections, to your delivery to the magic of the stories. They will stay with me for a long time. Wow. You are doing such vitally important work” – Toni Rahman
“My grand-daughter adored Milbre’s story telling. She said she would have loved to listen over and over again to Milbre’s stories.” – Juanamaria Cordones-Cook
“I really enjoyed Milbre yesterday. Hearing her was great, and it was a good reminder of power of a good story to crest empathy.” – Lynden Steele
“Please let Milbre know that I thoroughly enjoyed her performance. I don’t think I’d ever get tired of those stories.” – Tynan Stewart
“Thank you for coming to perform Stories from Beyond the Ban in my folklore class at UNC. You illustrated just the points I wanted to make, and your performance was captivating.” – Patricia Sawin
A general wash of light and a standing mic or a remote lapel mic or a headset, if amplification is needed.
Changing Skins: Tales about Gender, Identity and Humanity
A spoken word concert of performed research on the wealth and persistence of gender-bending folktales and folk ways from around the world, interwoven with popular tales and commentary. It runs 75 minutes and features oral tradition tales from Armenia, Chile, India and Scotland, from the Inuit, Ojibway and Okanagon traditions, from the Maasai people of East Africa, and from the Jewish tradition in Eastern Europe. This performance premiered in 2010 at Columbia College in MO. It has since toured to the American Folklore Society in Nashville, TN; the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Atlanta, GA; Dixon Place in Manhattan, CA (on a double bill with Holly Hughes); at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN among other venues. For adults and high school audiences.
With Changing Skins, I display ten large photos of transgender folk, some with autobiographical statements, onstage and in the house. So ten easels (or ten chairs) are needed for that. A wooden stool and two black theatre cubes are also useful in that show. A general wash of light and a remote lapel mic or headset, if amplification is needed.
A Jury of Her Peers/Sometimes I Sing
In this show, I pair a 40-minute narrative adaptation of Susan Glaspell’s 1917 short story, “A Jury of Her Peers,” and a 40-minute original monologue, Sometimes I Sing. The latter is written and performed in the voice of Minnie Wright, the abused farmwife accused of murder in Glaspell’s 1916 one-act masterwork, Trifles. (Her short story “A Jury of Her Peers” is based on her play.) Sometimes I Sing is set in 1902 in the Women’s Ward of the Anamosa State Penitentiary in Iowa where Minnie Wright is visited by the young female reporter who covered her trial. This work has been seen at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN; the International Conference on American Drama at Kean University in NJ; the Mariposa Storytelling Festival in CA; in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, GA; the International Conference on American Theater and Drama in Seville, Spain. It will be presented at the Provincetown Playhouse in NYC on October 20, 2019. For adults and high school audiences.
“Milbre Burch gives an inspired performance in Sometimes I Sing, as she recreates the voice and the inner life of an abused woman imprisoned for the murder of her husband. Her monodrama is a theatrical tour de force that moved me to tears.” – Patricia Bryan, Glaspell scholar and author of Midnight Assassin: A Murder in America’s Heartland, a nonfiction book about the murder trial that inspired Susan Glaspell’s play Trifles.
“Thank you so much for making Minnie Wright come alive in Sometimes I Sing. Through your wonderful voice her voice rang forth. It’s a voice that can be heard in all Susan Glaspell’s plays: that of a woman who struggles to be heard. You actualized that need so beautifully.” – Linda Ben-Zvi, Professor of Theatre, Tel Aviv University, author of Susan Glaspell, Her Life and Times, and co-editor with J. Ellen Gainor of Susan Glaspell: The Complete Plays.
“Justice Served, a trio of short plays about women confronting violence is absolutely mesmerizing. Milbre Burch will hold you spellbound in the finale, Sometimes I Sing.” – Bill Clark, Columbia (Missouri) Daily Tribune
“Your performance last Thursday night of your brilliant script was so lovely and so moving. It made Susan Glaspell’s one-act play Trifles so much richer and deeper.” – Jim Miller, Professor of Theatre, University of Missouri, director/designer for over 100 musicals and plays.
“Milbre Burch is perfect in the role of Minnie Wright. I have seen her perform maybe a dozen different roles. Every time, she transports me into the world she is creating. Her acting/storytelling ability seems supernatural to me.” – Steve Weinberg, author of Taking on the Trust: The Epic Battle of Ida Tarbell and John D. Rockefeller, and Professor Emeritus at the School of Journalism of the University of Missouri, offering courses related to covering the criminal justice system as part of an innocence project.
“I was fortunate enough to have been in the audience last Saturday for the Justice Served plays… It brought home once again of power of story. Thank you for all your hard work and creative vision on behalf of our friends and neighbors who continue to suffer in the shackles of violence.” – Heather Harlan, Phoenix Programs, Columbia, Missouri
“Brilliant research and writing… a seamless weaving of history, hardship, suffering, redemption.” – Mary Kay Blakely, contributing editor to Ms. magazine since 1981, former “Hers” columnist for The New York Times, member of National Advisory Board for the National Writer’s Union.
A wooden card-table-sized table and two wooden chairs (as might be found in a Women’s Ward in 1902) are needed for this show. A general wash of light and a remote lapel mic, if amplification is needed.
The Moon and Beyond: Night Sky Stories from Around the World
This 60-minute family-friendly performance contains folktales from Botswana, Brazil, Estonia, India, and Turkey told to explain – in metaphorical terms – the origins of some of the celestial bodies and phenomena that human beings have observed in the sky since the beginning of civilization. At the lip of the performing area, I create a display of objects used during the show. For adults and school-age children and up.
“Last weekend Cindy and I attended Milbre’s cosmic storytelling at the CH Library. That was the first time either of us had watched her perform. She was amazing. After she finished the stories, admiring parents and children crowded around her, and so we left before we had a chance to tell her how wonderful she was.” – Tom Linden
“You were amazing. My granddaughter and I really enjoyed your stories.” – Nancy Miles
“What a wonderful evening of stories!” – Patricia Sawin
“Good night to be inside with great stories told by a great storyteller!” – Nancie McDermott
A general wash onstage and a remote lapel mic or headset, if amplification is needed. A wooden stool.