Show celebrates women with performance art

Women and men alike packed into Parima’s acoustic lounge on Saturday, March 12 for a variety show in celebration of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. People sat throughout the red-lit room, while others stood crowded on the stairs, frequently blocking the way of a waiter delivering drinks. The event was part of a series of themed variety shows collectively called “Salmagundi: a stage where change takes place,” meaning a collection of different things which, “when put together, creates something really beautiful,” producer of the Salmagundi series Jen Berger said. “[The series encourages] people who are addressing social issues to use art as a medium,” Berger said. Each show benefits a different local grassroots organization, chosen depending on the theme, Berger said. The event focused on celebrating women in honor of International Women’s Day. “[The event was] also in honor of my, and Burlington’s, friend Kathleen Smith, who was murdered in October,” Berger said. “Her life is the inspiration behind this particular call to artists.” The night began with Jake Smith and Conor O’Neil — two thirds of the band Lakes of Canada — playing a short set of songs, harmonizing and playing a variety of instruments. Jake Smith played the guitar and O’Neil vacillated between instruments including a drum, xylophone and maracas. Jake Smith dedicated the last song to Kathleen Smith. “It’s the kind of song she would’ve loved,” he said, before launching into a melodic-turned-humorous song about zombies. Berger then took the stage and spoke a bit about the event. “Tonight we’ve come together to celebrate women and how far we’ve come and how far we have to go,” Berger said. “We’ve also come here to honor Kathleen Smith, to celebrate her life.” The variety show acts that followed all centered around the theme of celebrating women. One performer, Paige Macormick, performed a dramatic reading of a piece called “Living Uselessly,” written by Sri Aurobindo and “The Mother.” Aurobindo was an Indian spiritual writer and “The Mother” was Mirra Richard, his collaborator and a source of inspiration. “That was actually pretty cool,” one audience member whispered after she finished. Ginger Cloud, another performer, performed a song and an interactive piece in which she encouraged audience members to call out attributes they learned from a grandmother or other influential female in their lives. Answers ranged from kindness, intelligence and inspiration to gossip, aprons and daytime television. The piece ended with the audience collectively repeating “love.” The event included nine acts in all and featured 10 performers, including Berger. “I think the event was a success,” Berger said. “I judge that by a few things. One is the turnout — about 90 people were there. Another is the content of the acts, and I believe that they were educational, engaging and entertaining.” Audience member Jennifer Kerns expressed that she thought the event served an important function. “I think it is a really important event because it’s bringing awareness,” Kerns said. “We sort of think the women’s movement is over, but there’s still a long way to go.” Kerns cited the budget cuts being proposed and passed in Congress right now, such as the House voting to defund Planned Parenthood, as examples of the continued importance of the women’s movement. “Directly for Burlington, this represents a healing experience,” she said. “[It also] represents the issues globally at hand and will really raise awareness. That glass ceiling hasn’t been broken yet.”