P-Town’s Women’s Weekend Rocks the Cape
Grab your girlfriends and book your rooms. Women’s Week hits Provincetown this week and thousands of women from around the country and the world will be flocking to the sandy Cape Cod shores to take part in festivities. We may be pushing mid-October, but don’t let the fall weather keep you away. With the lineup of comedians, musicians, theatre performances, sporting events and the cream of the crop in lesbian talent, there is something for everyone.
Women’s Week began in 1984 when a group of quick-thinking businesswomen, The Women Innkeepers of Provincetown, decided to invite their summer guests back to P-town for a weekend clambake -- women only. Twenty-nine years later, the event has gone from a weekend getaway to a full-blown ten-day festival with a schedule so packed it is impossible to see it all. But we encourage you to try!
"We work hard to assemble a schedule as diverse as possible," said Lynn Mogell, Co-Owner of the Heritage House, and part of the Women Innkeepers of Provincetown. And she should know. It is Mogell who is charged with coordinating this jam-packed schedule, booking the top names in women performers as well as new, up-and-coming talent. She said that the planning for next year’s Women’s Week begins as soon as this one ends, and with names like Kate Clinton, Erin McKeown, Zoe Lewis, Lea DeLaria, Cris Williamson and Helen Reddy on your roster, it seems well worth the work.
While Women’s Week officially begins Monday, Oct. 14, there is a plethora of activities to whet your appetite beginning on Friday, Oct. 11. Kick off your Week with an opening reception at the Larkin Gallery at 405 Commercial Street, and check out the work of a true Women’s Week icon, the chronically misunderstood Edith Lake.
The gifted artist lived with her partner, Fannie, in Provincetown and New York until being committed to an asylum in 1925. Her belongings, locked in a trunk in her nephew’s West Virginia attic, were discovered in the 1960’s after her death and are now making their way back to Provincetown. The story of Edith Lake is a sad and glaring example of women’s oppression. Now, by admiring her long lost artworks and sharing her story, her memory can be vindicated, even if she herself cannot. Stop by to welcome Edith home.
Lesbian Comedy and Theatre A Big Hit During Women’s Week
If you’re looking for something a little lighter, some laughs perhaps, check out Lea DeLaria of "Orange is The New Black" and comedian, writer and producer, Maggie Cassell in their "Loudest Show on Earth." Described as "A frenetic presentation of weird characters, in your face comedy, and great music," the show will go on Friday-Monday at the Post Office Cabaret.
"Almost every lesbian performer or comedian is in town for Women’s Week," said Lynette Molnar, creator of provincetownforwomen.com and Girl Power Productions.
Catch one of the politically charged and always funny Kate Clinton’s Women’s Week performances of her hilarious SIS-BOOM-BAH Tour Oct. 12-19 at the Crown and Anchor. And lady comedians Karen Williams, Suzanne Westenhoefer and Judy Gold will be playing shows throughout the week for your giggling pleasure.
"Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche" will make its P-town debut on Oct.18 at 8 p.m. and Oct.19 at 3 p.m. at Provincetown Town Hall. Set in the McCarthyist 1950’s, the show tackles politics, suppressed sexuality and the impending threat of the atom bomb, all over a quiche breakfast. Tickets are $40 and proceeds will benefit Provincetown Cares, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting women’s health causes.
Be sure to catch 2013’s Woman of the Year, Zoe Lewis, as she brings her musical "Across the Pond" to Provincetown once again. The show, which first debuted in June, is an explorative look through different perspectives of what "home" means. Originally from England and having lived in P-town for the past 20 years, Lewis is no stranger to this line of internal questioning. In fact, one of P-town’s biggest draws for the LGBT community, residents and visitors alike, is the inherent feeling of being at ease and at home.
"When you mention P-town and people that have been, they feel like it’s theirs," Lewis told EDGE. "It holds a special place in their hearts."
The show will be playing at the Provincetown Theatre Oct. 16-19, with two shows on the 19. And the actor, director, musician and Woman of the Year will be playing her jazz-era speakeasy show on Columbus Day: Zoe Lewis and the Bootleggers.
"It’s my busiest Women’s Week ever," Lewis said, "But it’s also a time when tons of friends come to town."
Many of the female performers of Women’s Week have been coming, sharing, and bonding with one another for years.
"Women’s Week is great for keeping us all connected. We’re a little powerhouse," said Lewis. "I take a little bit of P-town on the road with me."
And P-town surely would like to claim a bit of Zoe Lewis for itself. According to Mogell, the Woman of the Year is an award given by the Women Innkeepers of Provincetown to honor someone who has made significant contributions to P-Town and to women in general. Not only is the Woman of the Year given a personal gift, but another monetary award is also given to a charity or nonprofit of her choosing. Lewis chose to allocate her prize to Camp Lightbulb, a P-Town summer camp for LGBT youth.
The award for Woman of the Year is given at the Community Dinner, the signature event of Women’s Week, and one that Mogell says she’s most proud of. Two hundred and 75 women, including most or all of the performers, gather for a buffet dinner, conversation and a variety-style montage of performances.
Kate Clinton’s Annual Football Classic
Another event that brings many of the performers and Women’s Week visitors together is Kate Clinton’s Annual Football Classic, held at Bas Relief Field Oct. 17. The touch football game is free to watch and free to play and has had up to 400 attendees in years past. Clinton said that the idea for the touch football classic came about quite naturally.
"It’s a touch football game," she said. "I like football. I like to touch women. There you go."
She notes, more seriously, that the touch part actually is important.
"The whole notion of touch is even more important in our current non-corporeal communication," said Clinton. "It’s good for the soul to have a memorable off-line experience together."
These side-by-side (or closer) experiences are what many of the performers and entertainers, including Kate Clinton, have called their favorite part of Women’s Week: Coming together, rebuilding bonds stretched from being on the road, and uniting over a common cause and a damn good time.
Musical Event Raises Money for WAVE
Musically speaking, there is much to be excited about during Women’s Week. Perhaps one of the largest events, half comedy, half music, is the annual Women’s Week Idol show, which will be taking place Oct. 18 at 8:30 p.m.. Kate Clinton will host the evening while celebrity comedic judges Vickie Shaw, Jessica Kirson, Karen Williams, Suede, Jennie McNulty and Mimi Gonzalez will size up the talent. The singers will wow you, but the judges will have you in stitches.
Singer, songwriter and activist Erin McKeown will be performing a benefit concert to raise awareness and support for WAVE, the Women’s Avenue for Voicing Empowerment, on Oct. 18 at the WOMR Davis Room, 494 Commercial Street, 9 p.m.. The organization works to amplify voices and achievements of women, and the funds raised through ticket sales will go toward future leadership programming, women-centric art exhibitions, and other mechanisms of sisterly support.
"Erin is a great performer and we love that she’s an activist," said WAVE Executive Director Paige Riley. "Hopefully having her on board for this will help WAVE gain visibility in P-Town in general, and not just for Women’s Week."
McKeown, who has performed at Women’s Week before, said that she is happy to help, excited to play the (hopefully) over-crowded room, and is also very excited to see some of the other artists and entertainers.
Women’s empowerment heroes Williamson and Reddy will also be making appearances at Women’s Week. Reddy’s single "I Am Woman," pushed the envelope and helped to perpetuate the message of the women’s liberation movement in the 1970’s. She still sings the classic hit almost every time she is on stage, a treat for the Women’s Week visitors attending her show this week. And Williamson, a true lesbian icon, pioneered the indie music label and music for and about women. Reddy will kick off Women’s Week on Sunday, Oct. 13 at the Crown & Anchor and Williamson will be performing daily at the Post Office Cabaret Oct. 13-20.
There will be more than 150 events at this year’s Women’s Week, ranging from art exhibits to writers’ workshops to comedies, lectures, music and theater, dinners, or sporting events. Molnar stressed that there is something for everyone.
"No matter who you are, what color, what size or age, P-town is for you," said Molnar. "At each event you can see people who are 21 to 75 years old, all with a smile on their face. That smile comes from the joy in being there and the euphoria of being free."
For the Provincetown business owners, this week of festivities, crowded streets and full venues is incredibly important.
"Fall in P-town was undiscovered for a while," said Mogell. "Events like Women’s Week are critical for the success of local businesses that depend on a short season to make their profits for the year."
And for the women who attend, the experience of being there in October, after the bustle of busy P-town summers, in a slower, cooler time of year, is equally important.
"In the summer there are a lot of day-trippers that come from up-Cape," said Molnar. "But when it’s quieter, in mid-October, the town feels more like ours."
Make P-town yours this week, beginning Columbus Day Weekend.
For information about events, schedules, and tickets visit womensweekprovincetown.com