Supporting creative work by women
Karah Gravatt stars in Life Without Parole, a powerful play about real life women serving time for killing their abusive spouses. The piece will receive its New York premiere at the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival. Culled from interviews with and testimonies from women at the Chino Hill Prison for Women in California, the play offers a unique and heartbreaking perspective on domestic violence and the long range effects of abuse.
Karah has performed the play at various national venues since 2009. She spoke to Works by Women about what’s she’s learned from this work, her excitement about FringeNYC and what’s next for her.
WORKS BY WOMEN: You’ve been with this play Life Without Parole in many incarnations. Tell me how you came to this?
KARAH GRAVATT: I did Life Without Parole in 2009 at Vanguard University, in Southern California. We toured the show up the West Coast and even performed it at the Chino Hill Prison for Women. I was interested in auditioning for this show because it’s based on real women’s stories. I had just finished Pride and Prejudice, and wanted to do a dramatic show. I fell in love with the piece, and its creative team Warren Doody and Elizabeth Leonard.
WBW: What have you learned most from performing this work?
KG: I went into this show thinking why don’t these women just leave! It’s so much more than that! This show has educated me.The message grips your heart. The subject matter is still in 2014, taboo. I have learned about the cycle and how the verbal abuse can brain wash you. Silence is death.
WBW: Life Without Parole is in the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival. What excites you about being part of FringeNYC?
KG: The Fringe gives us a chance to take Life Without Parole public. I’m excited for Fringe fans to see this production. The Fringe is competitive, and knowing Life Without Parole was chosen is a huge honor. This show is my passion being able to share it with NYC is indescribable.
WBW: How did you get started in theater?
KG: I did community theatre growing up in Southern California. I come from a small family, and the theatre community was a huge part of my life. I love the energy and camaraderie. I love how art can change you and challenge you.
WBW: What’s next for you?
KG: I’m going to continue to give voice to these women through Life Without Parole. I’m enjoying producing, and want to study and learn more about the business side of theatre.
WBW: What are the challenges facing women in American theater?
KG: I think the biggest challenge is creating stronger roles for women. We can handle it! I think the theatre is very male heavy. That’s one of the many things I love about Life Without Parole, it’s a women heavy show. The characters are fighters and all equally matched. They range in race and age. It’s beautiful.
WBW: What gives you hope for women in American theater?
KG: Knowing that women in theatre today are doing strong work. Women in the industry of film, TV, and theatre are creating groundbreaking work. It’s inspiring.
Life Without Parole is part of the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival. Performances run August 10th through 23rd. For more information, visit http://www.lifewithoutparoleplay.com/.