Shakespeare,  Theatre,  Wildflower

The Women of Wildflower

In honor of the women in my life and International Women’s day, I want to share with you this amazing group.

In 2015, two friends and I hatched a crazy notion – we needed to start an all-female Shakespeare ensemble. This was during a production of an all-female/all-male cast summer for Sacramento Shakespeare festival. Our research on other all-female productions was coming up sparse. We had the opportunity to be interviewed by Girls on the Grid and the reasons the ladies gave for being excited about an all-female production – auditioning for any and all roles regardless of gender, freedom, empowerment – were all the reasons we needed an all-female company.

That September, we launched Wildflower Women’s Ensemble with our production of Henry V, offered free in Fremont Park. Here are our founding members:

From left to right. Front Row: Sinead Kennedy, Samantha Hannum, Evelyn White, Julianna Hess, Kayla Willett, Christi Van Eyken. Back Row: Lori Ann DeLappe-Grondin, Denise Ivy, Danielle le Roux, Roberta Sanchez, Kathleen Poe, Nina Dramer, Shelby Saumier, Faye Taylor, Esmeralda Alvarez, Johnna Wood. Photo by Barry Wisdom.

We considered it a success because we rehearsed it, mounted it and people watched it. But more importantly, women took on roles, both on and off stage, they might not have been able to in the mainstream theatre world.

Next we tackled Macbeth in spring 2016. One season down!


Cast of Macbeth
Front row L-R: Nina Dramer, Mary Jo, O’Connor, Kayla Willett; Second row: Roberta Sanchez, Samantha Hannum, Shelby Saumier, Christi van Eyken, Kim McCann-Lawson, Christine Nicholson; Back row: Sinead Kennedy, Shana Kehoe, Denise Ivy, Lori Ann DeLappe-Grondin, Josh Anderson, Danielle le Roux, Kathleen Poe. Photo by Kayla Willett

Bring on the problem plays. We attacked Measure for Measure in the late summer with Kim McCann-Lawson at the helm.

Cast of Measure for Measure
Front row L-R: Kayla Willett, Lori Ann DeLappe-Grondin, Julianna Camille Hess, Shana Kehoe, Christi van Eyken, Sarita le Roux, Sinead Kennedy, Mary Jo O’Connor, Kim McCann-Lawson; Back row: Khephra Owl, Josh Anderson, Lincoln Taylor, Christine Nicholson, Kathleen Poe, Shelby Larsen. Photo by Mike Poe.

Last winter we held our first fundraiser – Winter Blossoms: An Evening with the Women of Wildflower. We hoped for 20 people and maybe to raise some money to cover costs. It far exceeded our expectations! Nina Dramer directed a very short Two Gentlemen of Verona – that makes four plays completed out of the 38!

Winter Blossoms
Front row (kneeling and seated): Fiona Nies, Samantha Hannum, Kim McCann-Lawson, Julianna Camille Hess, Kayla Willett, Sarita le Roux, Lenore Justman; Second row: Lori Ann DeLapppe-Grondin, Danielle le Roux, Mary Jo O’Connor, Nina Dramer, Shelby Larsen, Christi van Eyken, Shana Kehoe, Katie Peters, Sinead Kennedy; Back Row: Lincoln Taylor, Natalie Evans, Josh Anderson, Kathleen Poe, Suzanne Stewart, Christine Nicholson, Sharon Pressburg-Nevans.

Now for our present project. We are taking on the Shrew! Rehearsals have begun and it’s exciting. More photos to follow.

Why do I mention this? Because this group of women is amazing to work with. Dedicated to our company and our craft, we believe in what theatre can do for us and our community. We are teachers, state workers, designers, baristas, dancers, musicians, students, daughters, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, but most of all friends. And on this day of honoring women, I am honored to be among the brightest and best Sacramento has to offer!

Here’s to 35 more plays!

Wildflower Women’s Ensemble was born of the desire to create vibrant classical theatre with entirely female casts. Founded in July 2015 by Julianna Hess, Lori Ann DeLappe-Grondin, and Joshua Anderson, Wildflower is based in the Sacramento Region and draws influences from Sacramento Shakespeare Festival, Davis Shakespeare Ensemble Shakespeare’s Globe, Utah Shakespeare, Orlando Shakespeare, Shakespeare on the Vine and the Shakespeare Theatre Association.

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