‘Andromeda’s Sisters’ Offers a Night of Theater Fueled by Women

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Actors from the Neo-Political Cowgirls, which is presenting "Andromeda's Sisters" at Guild Hall this weekend. Photos courtesy of Neo-Political Cowgirls

Laura Gómez considers herself a woman’s woman.

Portraying inmate Blanca Flores, the Dominican actor accidentally found her tribe on the set of the Netflix hit show “Orange is the New Black,” surrounded by powerful female talent with a voice and a vision.

This weekend, she will find herself in a similar position at “Andromeda’s Sisters,” a theatrical fundraiser spearheaded by Neo-Political Cowgirls founder Kate Mueth and fueled by explosive female playwrights, actors, directors and advocates — and the men who support them — both on the stage and off.

“Working with women is something I’ve always been inclined to do. It’s not like I don’t enjoy working with men when I do, but there’s something about the sisterhood that it feels so necessary,” Gómez explained. “We are so underrepresented. We have been left on the side, and when you have a woman directing or a woman writing, I know that we’re gonna be telling different stories than the ones that we have been given for so long.”

Laura Gómez will be on stage at Guild Hall for “Andromeda’s Sisters.”

On Friday night, Gómez will star opposite Tony Award-winning actor Blythe Danner — “What an honor,” she breathed out — in a new one-act play by Anna Ziegler, “Sat Nam,” at Guild Hall in East Hampton. And it won’t be alone.

The third annual gala will shine a spotlight on six more short plays by female playwrights — Julia Jordan, Suzanne Bradbeer, Liana Sonenclar, Margo Hammond, Lucy Boyle and Joy Behar — with a star-studded cast that also includes the likes of Catherine Curtin, Susie Essman, Tamara Tunie and Ellen Marie Dolan.

“The Neo-Political Cowgirls works to create more opportunities for women’s stories to be told,” Mueth said. “Theater and the arts are, to me, the most pure way to share human story. We wanted to create an event that actually gives back, that actually gets people excited about the work we do and why we do it and why it matters.”

During the inaugural “Andromeda’s Sisters,” playwright Lucy Boyle teamed up with Danner for a scene from her play-in-progress that explored the ramifications of climate change. It never went anywhere, she said, but it planted a seed — one that has bloomed into a more developed project that will, once again, star Danner.

Blythe Danner is also part of “Andromeda’s Sisters.” Photo by Mark Seliger

“I’m really interested in climate change, and these things that can feel very abstract to us now, and what the implications will be on our lives in the really not-so-distant future, and in the daily lives of our children,” Boyle said. “It is such a joy to get to work with Blythe. I think she’s so brilliant.”

Two more reunions will unfold during “Andromeda’s Sisters,” the first between Tamara Tunie and Ellen Dolan, longtime co-stars on the soap opera “As the World Turns,” which ended in 2010 with over 2,700 collective episodes between them. Together again, they will bring Julia Jordan’s “Nightswim” to life.

“‘Nightswim’ is so dreamy and sweet, begging you to jump into your life,” Dolan said. “And just the chance to work with Tunie again — the show’s been over for about 10 years now — I did a lot of work with her on ‘As the World Turns’ and I miss her. She’s a good friend.”

Dolan will then explore a more comedic side of herself in “Mistress Marlene” by Margo Hammond, a departure from the world of soaps and her near two-decade run as police officer Margo Hughes.

“I don’t often get a chance to do comedy,” she said. “I try to be funny but it looks mean on me — which is, I guess, why I got to play a cop for 20 years, because I’ve got that mean humor. I’m actually quite funny, though! I’m a nice person! I’m joyous, but it doesn’t come across on stage, which is a tragic flaw for a comic actor.”

Revisiting familiar territory, Gómez and her “Orange is the New Black” co-star Catherine Curtin will cheer each other on from the wings of the John Drew Theater at Guild Hall, just as they do on the show where they met — which Gómez calls “a happy accident.”

“At the time, the truth is, I was not really working too much. I was working in the theater and it was a doing-my-own-projects situation — a struggling actor trying to make it,” she said. “So I get this opportunity to audition for this unknown platform called Netflix and a show that was in prison, so it’s not like it sounded so exciting. The only incentive was it had been created by Jenji Kohan.”

Little did everyone know, the woman behind the Showtime comedy-drama series “Weeds” would help lead a movement toward online streaming services with a show about women, by women, no less.

“It just happened to turn into what it turned into, which we all know is the phenomenon that it became,” Gómez said. “If anything, it just expanded my interest in that direction of working with women.”

Ellen Marie Dolan will part of the show at Guild Hall.

Reflecting on the last six seasons — the final seventh season is airing in July — Gómez said she has watched “Orange is the New Black” prove the entertainment industry wrong, challenging the rules and preconceptions that “shows about women don’t sell.”

“We have a voice — we’ve always had it — but we have not always had the platform to share that voice,” she said. “We need to tell stories that are not being told, and for me, it feels urgent because of the political times that we’re living. In a way, there’s a war on women.

“I find it interesting that, sometimes, from situations that seem like a crisis — like the current political state of the country — we have found that has given us an outlet,” she added. “I think we are turning rage into healing energy through the arts.”

The Neo-Political Cowgirls’ annual fundraiser, “Andromeda’s Sisters,” will kick off with a cocktail garden party on Friday, June 14, at 7 p.m. at Guild Hall, located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton.

At 8 p.m., a performance of seven one-act plays by women-identifying playwrights will follow, including: “Nightswim” by Julia Jordan, “Clare” by Suzanne Bradbeer, “Five Star D-A-D” by Liana Sonenclar, “Mistress Marlene” by Margo Hammond, “The Perfectionists” by Lucy Boyle, and new work by Joy Behar. Tickets range from $50 to $100.

The two-day gala will continue with a women’s workshop for creative deep diving, led by StateraArts’ Director of Operations Sarah Greenman, on Sunday, June 23, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Guild Hall. Tickets are $50.

For more information, visit npcowgirls.org/andromedas-sisters-2019.

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