TBA Festival 2012: Terrifying Women Live Performance Review

Tuesday’s late night TBA fare began with a bang at Washington High School with Terrifying Women. The ambiguously advertised event promised “a video, comedy, performance, live, streaming, extravaganza” featuring Sarah Johnson, Kathleen Keogh, Angela Fair, Tanya Smith, Wendy Haynes, Diana Joy and Alicia McDaid.


It’s worth including an excerpt from the Facebook invite, which read:

A lot of people ask me “What do you mean by “terrifying?” And I say, “You know, like, kind of crazy but, like, good crazy? Most of the time?”

Are you a terrifying woman? Or have you ever been terrified of a woman?


1. Have you ever been told you are “too sensitive” or “too intense” yet often accused of being “too reserved” or “independent”?

2. Has anyone ever said, “You’re crazy,” or “What the fuck are you talking about? Can we please go to sleep now?” to you?

3. Have any mental or holistic health care professionals ever noted that “your moods seem to get in the way of your life”? or that “you feel a lot”?

4. Have you ever had an unsolicited spiritual experience?

5. Do you experience rage? Do you express it?

6. Have you ever confused love and sex?

7. Have you ever asked someone to “define obsessive”?

8. Have you ever habitually used any drugs or refused to take any drugs?

9. Have you ever been told that you vibrate at a high frequency or that you’re “smart”?

10. Have you ever felt an overwhelming sense of love and joy that made you cry tears of gratitude even though you knew you would most likely experience gut wrenching pain and anguish at least one more time that day?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you should definitely come see our show. If you answered “no” to all of these questions, you’re a liar.

(“And liars should come to the show, too!!!!” adds Kathleen Keogh in response.)

The official press release described the event thusly:

“It’s the Vagina Monologues on nitrous oxide wearing strap-on penises. Don’t be scared, be terrified.”


Okay, so that was enough to pique my curiosity (and apparently the curiosity of many others; the auditorium was standing room only at start time). The festivities began with a group breathing exercise led by the bleached-blonde MC, Alicia McDaid, who then proceeded to pee — or something like it — onto the stage, perhaps setting the tone for an evening of absurd antics. She then led her audience on a self-depricating photo tour of her recent hair exploits before going on to introduce the rest of the all-girl cast, three of whom appeared via video chat, each repping their own persona. Diana Joy, most memorably, was clad in football shoulder pads, with Blade Runner-inspired Daryl Hannah hair (wig?), and freaky pitched down voice. Basically anything she said throughout the course of the night coasted on the hilarity of her hyper-masculinity. As for her other two on-screen counterparts, each was funny, or adorable and disappointing in her own distinct way. The effect was a sort of “choose your avatar” scenario for the audience.


Physical appearances were made successively by Fair, Smith, and Haynes. The whole thing unfolded like a loosely-scripted, well, Vagina Monologues, I guess. Or like a totally inappropriate Mister Roger’s episode set in a dark alley of the future where a visitor would “drop in” to discuss their occupation, or showcase some special talent, or embark on a completely unexpected monologue turned runaway diatribe with grandiose metaphors about “standing in a field of wheat where the tips of the grain aren’t grain at all but the faces of all your friends who are smiling at you” and some of them are friends you haven’t even met yet, and YOU are that field of wheat but then someone comes and [escalating cadence inducing audience frenzy] “BURNS YOUR FIELD TO THE GROUND!”

I use quotes but this is only my best recollection of Angela Fair’s hilariously expulsive monologue that was surely a highpoint of the performance.

From there, things blathered and swayed, meandered and stutter-stepped, narrowly holding the audience’s attention at points, but producing many laughs and at a minimum keeping people squirming in bemusement. Diana Joy’s video “IAMTHEINTERNET” was an entirely whacked-out anthropomorphizing of the cyber realm into an opiate-laden, techno-thumping, Twitter-swigging, wizard hag. It was a hit with the audience. Kathleen Keogh then had a good entry with her video which she claimed to be deeply personal regarding her relationship with her mother, but which in effect was her aimlessly rambling in a field like an ungraceful doe, wading among empty beer boxes and other detritus while a hunter (her mother, presumably) encroached. The video then culminated succinctly in a complete “what the fuck” moment which it would strain me to describe, so I won’t. After this, things generally degraded in quality in the way that a conversation between tired, drunk people might upon coming down from a drunken sugar-high.


In general, the whole of Terrifying Women either succeeded or failed, depending on how open you were to watching a gaggle of eccentric women interact and act out in a roughly sketched fashion through live video chat. Though the performance at times tested your tolerance for sheer asininity, the act of engaging in spontaneity in front of an auditorium full of people is daring, so they get kudos for that. Also the vigor with which they scrambled neat definitions of femininity and gender stereotypes was laudable (and funny). All in all, the thing amounted to a memorable “extravaganza” while embodying all the trappings of good/bad off-the-cuff performance art. The beauty was in the strength of rapport among the ladies involved, and their willingness to bare (and embarrass) themselves in front of their audience.


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