Christine Lahti’s portrayal of Gloria Steinem in PBS’ “Gloria: A Life” displays each a veteran artist’s ability and a ardour for the topic.
Lahti’s discovery as a younger girl of Steinem and different feminist leaders opened her eyes to sexism and inequality and “saved my life,” because the Oscar-nominated actor (“Swing Shift”) places it.
In the “Great Performances” presentation of Emily Mann’s play (Friday, test native listings), Steinem’s life and journey to social activism are dramatized in act one, with an all-female forged enjoying each female and male roles. Act two entails the theatre viewers in a dialogue of the play’s themes, with Steinem herself serving as moderator.
If Lahti’s admiration for Steinem didn’t put sufficient stress on the actor, the 2 are also pals.
“I remember the first run-through we had, she came to that and was sitting 5 feet from me,” Lahti stated. “I have never felt more nervous in my life, and I’ve been on many stages and Broadway and on sets.”
In an interview with The Associated Press, Lahti mentioned her personal feminist journey and why the play has enchantment past the transformed, with remarks edited for readability and size.
AP: When did Gloria Steinem and her work come on your radar?
Lahti: I used to be on the University of Michigan from 1968 to ’72, and I entered a very un-woke, complicit-in-my-own-oppression product of suburban Detroit, ’50s, housewife-mother, doctor-father patriarchy on steroids. I assumed girls simply have been intrinsically, biologically second-class residents, inferior. Then my world exploded: Vietnam, and Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Robin Morgan, all these unimaginable feminists. I dropped out of my sorority after one semester and altered my life, and I’ve not seemed again.
AP: When you went introduced these new concepts house from school, was there a conflict together with your mother and father?
Lahti: It actually threatened their lifestyle. But my mother went on to embrace feminism, to say, “Carry the banner for me, things have to change.” I stated to her, “You can carry your own,” and he or she did. She went on to turn into an expert artist, a painter, after which a pilot. I stand on her shoulders, like my daughter is standing on mine, and the view is completely different.
AP: What does feminism appear to be to you now in comparison with then?
Lahti: One of the principle issues I cherished about this play and the PBS movie of it’s the emphasis on Black feminism and the way Black feminists taught Gloria Steinem every thing she knew about feminism. And they have been utterly ghosted out of the media as a result of they wished to place the gorgeous white girl on the face of feminism. There have been all these Black leaders, like Shirley Chisholm and Flo Kennedy and Dorothy Hughes, that nobody knew about. The feminism that I perceive now and embrace, and that is largely because of my daughter, have to be intersectional and focus on how racism and sexism are so intertwined.
AP: The play explores Steinem’s ideology but in addition her life, together with a really troublesome childhood. Is it vital that we perceive her background?
Lahti: The motive I most wished to do the play was to indicate the world that if somebody like Gloria Steinem can do what she’s doing, anyone can. She got here from a really working-class household. Her mom was mentally ailing. The father had left the household, and Gloria ended up having to look after her from the age of 11 to 17. For this girl to get to be the chief that she is, with all that wrestle in her previous, is absolutely inspiring.
AP: We dwell in a polarized nation, and there are individuals who would take exception to some or all of the way you clarify the world. Is there one thing on this play for individuals who don’t already share that viewpoint?
Lahti: I feel there’s lots within the play for individuals who don’t suppose they’re feminists or don’t imagine that others are oppressed. First of all, this play actually helps outline what feminism is, which is simply any person who believes that men and women ought to have equal rights. And I problem any man or girl to say that they don’t imagine that men and women ought to have equal rights. Feminism has nothing to do with being anti-male and even wanting the identical type of energy that’s ascribed to by the patriarchy. It’s an entire completely different definition of energy. It’s not a few hierarchy that some individuals are above others. It’s about everyone lifting one another up.
Lynn Elber could be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lynnelber
Lynn Elber, The Associated Press