Saturday, March 19, 2016


Below is our full itinerary for Mexico.  Please forward this info to anyone who might be able to make the remaining performances  or who might know folks in Mexico City or San Miguel de Allende.

In Oaxaca, with Mariana Mordente:

Tuesday, March 15, 5:00 pm
Oaxaca Lending Library
Pino Suarez #59, Oaxaca Centro
$150 pesos - benefit for OLL

Wednesday, March 16, 7:00 pm
La Jicara
Porfirio Diaz #1105
Oaxaca Centro
Free admittance

In Mexico City, DF, with Minerva Valenzuela:

Friday, March 18, 5:30 pm
Auditorio Plantel del Valle, UACM
San Lorenzo 290, Colonia de Valle, DF
Free Admittance

Sunday, March 20, 8:00 pm
Punto Gozadera, restaurante cultural de encuestas feminista
Plaza San Juan #15,
Centro Delegation, Cuauhtémoc DF
Free Admittance

In San Miguel de Allende:

Tuesday, March 29, 5:00 pm
Teatro Santa Ana
The Biblioteca Publica
Insurgentes #25, Col. Centro
$150 pesos, benefit for La Biblioteca

Wednesday, March 30, 5:00 pm
Teatro Santa Ana
The Biblioteca Publica
Insurgents #25, Col. Centro
$150 pesos, benefit for Ser Mujer

For those in theater, you will recognize that this is an insane performance schedule in a foreign country.  Three cities, five different performing spaces, five tech rehearsals, two different Mexican actresses to work with.  However, this is the kind of thing Carolyn does when left to her own devices, which I foolishly did for the two months in Mexico before I arrived.  But, as she said, I'm the perfect partner for her, because no one else would be ABLE to do this tour -- let alone WILLING.  

Here's Carolyn and her daughter, Mica, who lives and works in Oaxaca and is the reason we performed there.

We're at a rooftop restaurant with a view of the city
and famous mescal cocktails.
Carolyn did an incredible amount of work finding people to help with booking, publicity, tech, and performing the Spanish narration that she had written. Here's our Oaxaca narrator, Mariana Mordente, rehearsing howling with my lesbian werewolf in rehearsal on the roof of the Oaxaca Lending Library.

Rehearsing the Restoration Coming-Out Scene

The saving grace of this intense and stressful first week is that everyone we've worked with couldn't have been nicer or more competent  or creative or calm or cheerful.  I know machismo is a huge problem here.  I KNOW it.  I've seen the feminist posters about it.  But the men we've worked with have been truly gentle and  -- there's no other word for it -- sweet.  Of course the women were fantastic, but that's more to be expected.  

Now we're in Mexico City, having done two shows in Oaxaca and one here last night.  Phew.  So we're on the downhill slope, in terms of work.  


Oaxaca is a very special place.  It's a beautiful Colonial city with a famous cuisine and a notoriously rebellious past and present.  It's surrounded by Indian villages with very deep craft and art traditions.  And there are ancient pyramids nearby.  Unfortunately, I only got a little taste of Oaxaca, because we had so much work to do -- but enough to know I'll come back soon, to do one of those immersive Spanish courses.

It was late Spring, still some flowers:
Jacaranda everywhere
Unknown Fabulous Yellow Flowers
The Door to my Studio Apartment with Patio

On my only free night, I saw a Oaxaca wedding celebration with women dancing with flower baskets on their heads and giant puppets and fireworks in front of one of the old churches.  Sorry, no good photos of puppets or fireworks.

That same night, we came upon a demonstration/art installation.  Women had spent the day dying shoes red, to represent all the women who have been killed in Ciudad Juarez -- and elsewhere.  It's hard to capture how moving these scattered scarlet boots and shoes were.

There is a vibrant feminist consciousness among women here that is very militant and widespread, unlike in the U.S.  Very exciting.  These posters below were in La Jicara, where we performed.
Verbal, Sexual, or Institutional:
it's all the same violence.
 Caution:  Machismo kills!
My Body is Mine.
Caution:Machismo kills!

We were so thrilled to find our poster below a lesbian poster, although we never found out what the rest of the poster said.
You think it's easy to translate "Crackpot Crones" into Spanish?  Carolyn consulted with a LOT of people.  She can't tell me exactly what "Rucas" means.  Of course "locas" means "crazy."  But she says everyone laughs when they hear "Las Rucas Locas," so that's enough for us.  The poster, designed by Margo Tufo, delighted the Oaxacans.

Our first performance was at the Oaxaca Lending Library, which is the cultural center for English speakers living here.  Here's Mariana (our narrator/clown), Saskia (publicist, booker, sound tech and probably a few other things) and Carolyn working on translating the script in the Library.  
I think this might have been the moment when we were searching for the Mexican names of Donald Duck's nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie (as mentioned in the Coming-Out Sitcom).  EVERY country in the WORLD has their OWN names for the plucky little avians.  Saskia says in Holland it's Quik, Quak and Quok.  These are the kinds of things you investigate deeply when you're a serious theater artist.  In Mexico, it's Hugo, Paco and Luis. Just google it.

The Crones and Mariana before the Library Performance.
As Carolyn said, she tried to find someone who looked as much like us as possible.
The Library was our Mexican debut and the debut of our wild and wonderful backdrop designed by Judy Schavrien.  
"Red Hanky Grannies" 
Mariana introduced our scenes and then interrupted us at various points to describe what would happen in the next part of the scene.  So Spanish-only speakers were told what they were going to see before they saw it.  This was an audience of mainly English speakers, so we couldn't really tell how well it worked.  But Mariana was a completely adorable clown and improvised her own jokes with the audience.  She's a gem.  

People loved the show.  They loved the humor, the feminism, the lesbianism, the blasphemy -- and the fact that we took the trouble to bring our theater to them.  We did the "Lesbian Werewolf" scene in Spanish.  I felt terribly inhibited and awkward speaking Spanish, and did not acquit myself well.  Carolyn only had three short lines, so she did better.  

On to La Jicara the next night!  I wish we had something like La Jicara in San Francisco -- a community center/bookstore with great food.  I feel a sense of space for things like this to happen in Oaxaca, whereas there's no space remaining for such quixotic ventures in SF.  Here's the main room, with the Crone backdrop -- safety-pinned to nails, instead of velcroed liked the night before.  The ceiling is partially open and vine-covered.

Posters at La Jicara Protesting Genetically Modified Food
Unfortunately, I have no photos of our performance at La Jicara.  The place was PACKED and the audience was very enthusiastic.  It was exciting.  Again, most people knew SOME English.  Our performance took a step up, inspired by the energy of the crowd, which included lots of young people.  My Lesbian Werewolf en Espanol was MUCH better except…. oh, except… Instead of "hermosos pechos"  (trans. beautiful breasts), I said "hermanos pechos" (trans. brotherly breasts or something like that).  Oy vey.  What a mistake for a lesbian werewolf to make.    

After the performance, everyone hung out.  We had a full dinner!  We were starving.  How great to perform somewhere that people can stay long and chat and eat.  
Carolyn with Mica and friends
Crones with Jose Antonio, our dear lighting man

To end:  Just some cool Oaxaca images:

People drive on the Left Side of the Road for One Block!?!
Oaxaca is famous for its green stone walls.
Never seen THIS image anywhere before!
One of the many strange and beautiful murals
Just Plain Fun

Th….th…..That's all, folks!


Sunday, March 13, 2016

HICK Goes to Baltimore!

I'm in Oaxaca at this moment. Carolyn and I have SIX performances she's booked in Mexico.  

But today, I must tell you about my two-week run of HICK: A LOVE STORY in Baltimore, at the Theatre Project.  This run was a result of the work of my booking agent Lesley Hart, and the theatre's director, Chris Pfingsten.  Thank you thank you.

First, I visited my oldest friend in Gettysburg -- we call each other Lady Dear or LD for short (a very complicated story involving the world's cutest old waitress at Louis's in San Francisco).  I mean she's not my oldest friend in GETTYSBURG.  She's my oldest friend in the WHOLE WORLD.  We were put together as roommates when we started college.  Here's me in the bathroom of LD's gorgeous pre-Revolutionary stone house in the countryside.

Yes, SNOW!  Very exciting for me, but they are so OVER it.  Apparently, it's a drag to shovel.  Who knew?  

I arrived in Baltimore and did a lecture with slides on Lorena Hickok and Eleanor Roosevelt at the Baltimore GLBT center.  Me with their director, Jabari:

Then on to the Theatre Project:

This is a lovely 150 seat theater downtown.  Got a great interview about HICK in the main daily, the Baltimore Sun -- one of the best interviews I've ever had:  Click here to read. 

We had created a transportable set for our NY Fringe run of HICK.  This was Carolyn's brilliant idea and executed by our set designer, Vola Ruben and our graphic designer, Bill Selby.  So we shipped the set to the Theatre Project via UPS.  This photo isn't under the real theater lights, so it doesn't look quite as wonderful as during a performance.

ANYHOW, opening night had a small house, but the audience was very enthused and cheered at the end.  On the second night, I actually experienced BEING Hick for the whole show.  It was just, "Congratulations, Terry!  As a reward for all your hard work, you get to be Lorena Hickok for 1 1/2 hours!"  Very wonderful feeling.  I KNEW it wouldn't continue for the rest of the run, but I was still disappointed that it didn't.  I mean, I had a lot of really good performances, but it wasn't exactly like BEING Hick, which was effortless.

Attendance built during the eight performances, with a packed house at the last show.  Lots of standing ovations.  I like those.  After every show, I went out to the lobby to talk to folks.  People were deeply moved by HICK.  And I got...

Great reviews:

“Valiant, valuable and vivid.  Baum creates a distinctive and very likable character.  HICK: A LOVE STORY focuses on the light and love that warmed two exceptional lives — a first lady and the woman dubbed “First Friend.” -- Baltimore Sun

"Mrs. Roosevelt's  letters are stunning in their intimacy. Hick slowly grows into her role as the keeper of the truth about Eleanor as a sexual and emotional human being. Like the best biographies, the play offers us a hero who has been invisible, but was there all along:  Lorena Hickok or Hick." -- People’s World

"Baum is captivating, in a skilled and nuanced performance.  Hats off to Baltimore Theatre Project, and  a thank-you to Terry Baum for sharing this touching, funny, and excellent character with theatre audiences."  --  DC Metro
"A substantial play that dealt thoughtfully with a host of issues.   A meaty play, a fascinating love story, and to some degree a universal one.  And Baum is good at bringing out that universality." -- Broadway World
My very generous and charming hosts, Laura and Alex.  They met each other in the Peace Corps in Morocco and are very politically involved and have a huge collection of books on politics.
Laura with their adorable pup

Snow in Baltimore too!
Baltimore Scenes:
The title of this one is "LOOKS MUCH BETTER NOW"  And a Green and Yellow bridge

Yes, we are south of the Mason Dixon line.  LOTS of memorials to Confederate soldiers:

And a monument to Francis Scot Key, who wrote the Star Spangled Banner in Baltimore. This is where he saw the rockets' red glare, apparently from a little rowboat.
The fabulous Peabody Library:

The Baltimore Museum of Art is famous for the largest collection of paintings by Matisse.  But I fell in love with their African collection:

Lady Dear and her favorite quilt at the BMA:

Hmmm… I don't know about this bench.  It's kinda like those signs that say "Drug-Free Zone."  If you have to say it, it's not.  But the folks who live in B'more sure do love their city!

And last, but not least:  My favorite new acquisition:  Egg-Tastic!  I can now make scrambled eggs in the microwave!  Okay, they're a little tough.  But nothing's perfect.  And my Egg-Tastic sure is cute.

Th…th…that's all, folks!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

American Visionary Art Museum

 I'm here doing a two-week run of HICK: A LOVE STORY at the Baltimore Theatre Project.  I went to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore yesterday.   This is right outside the entrance to the museum:

This is their welcoming doormat:

It says "SMILE."  I couldn't quite fit the letters in.  It's made of old toothbrushes.  The letters are formed of old bristles, which are now a tad dirty.  The lovely colorful background is composed of the handles of the toothbrushes.  Genius, pure genius.

Why doesn't the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC do something like that???  They've got room on the floor!

Anyhow, the Museum is a very special wild, subversive place.  Much of the art is made by people in prison or mental hospitals or by people who are kind of hermits.  For many of these artists, their art is a way of holding onto sanity.  Often the stories behind the art are just as important as the art itself.   A good example is this first one:
This is a very small embroidered picture created by a man in prison.  He had never embroidered before, but somehow he felt this was how he was going to get through the days.  He had no money for thread.  The guards gave him old socks, which he unraveled and then used to create these lovely images.  There were six of them, all about 6X6 inches.  

I realize now that I didn't write down any of the artists' names.  That was disrespectful of me.  Oh well.  
Unfortunately, I couldn't take all the photos I wanted, because no photography was allowed.  I thought, "Fine, I'll just buy postcards!"  But then I went to the gift shop, and they had hardly any -- except multiple views of one sculpture that I didn't like at all!  Okay, it was well-done, but it was of a cutesy-pretty Barbie doll woman.  Yecch!  That made me mad.  No postcards!  Tell hell with the rules!  I skulked around the galleries, crouching in corners to escape watchful museum guards and got the photos here.  Plus a bunch others.

A lot of the art is just plain wild and wacky.  

The "What, Me Worry?" Alfred E. Newman bed is all done in sequins and beads. 

Inside this, I had an amazing experience:
Okay.  So the outside is tinfoil.  I took off my shoes, crawled in.  It was a kind of spongy cave.  Fortunately, so fortunately, I was the only one at the moment.  When I  came upon it, there were six giggly teens sitting inside.  But I could lie down.  There were all these strips hanging from the ceiling, hundreds of them, and when the light show began, they flickered in different colors, with different patterns, different rhythms.  The light show was coordinated with lovely spacey music.  And it went on and ON and ON!  

It was an intense spiritual experience.  I had a powerful revelation which would now be changing my life if I could remember what it was.  (P.S. I was not stoned.)

And nobody came in the whole time!  Just me realizing enlightenment!  Finally the music stopped, the flashing lights disappeared and a recorded voice told me that it was time to leave... several times.  So I did.  Wow.

This was around the corner inside the restaurant, so I could skulk and get the picture:
The story of Lilly and Dilly and their husbands Billy and Willy.  Their lovely matching dressers are made of little snippets from Maxwell House coffee cans -- you can see one on the upper left.  This is actually a full-length portrait, and I can tell you this artist drank a hell of a lot of coffee!  Lots of other art by this woman (again, no name, shame on me).  I feel this is her masterpiece.  The real coffee cups she used... brilliant.

Before I leave you with a few more pictures, I want to tell you my favorite quote from the bathroom.  I mean, this place is not like a museum.  It's so IRREVERENT.  Here goes:

When I die, I want to go like my grandpa did, gently sleeping -- not screaming like the other people in the car!