Secrets of gender-based violence, from the male point of view, are revealed by women in a new physical theater work sponsored by UN Women USA.

March 19-29, 2020
Thur-Sat at 8:00 PM, Sun at 5:00 PM
The Downstairs at La MaMa, 66 East Fourth Street
$25 Adult Tickets; $20 Students/Seniors + $1 Facility Fee
The first ten tickets for every performance are available for only $10 each (limit 2 per patron, advance sale necessary).
Box office 212-352-3101,
Running time: one hour.
Critics are invited to all performances.
Author's agent: AO International, attn: Antje Oegel, (773) 910-5691,
Photos are available at:

NEW YORK, February 26 -- The Hess Collective (, led by Elizabeth Hess, creates interdisciplinary works that address issues of social and global urgency. The troupe returns to La MaMa March 19 to 29 with "SPOILED," an original work of physical theater. Three diverse female performers enact stories based on real events of violence against women that are written from the male point of view. The piece is conceived and directed by Elizabeth Hess and sponsored by UN Women USA.

The piece is built on monologues of male characters from Chile, Germany, India, Turkey and the USA. Stories such as campus rape, military assault and female infanticide, shed light on the role of patriarchy in perpetuating misogyny. The dramatic purpose of women acting these men's stories is to illuminate the power of the male voice to co-opt female experience.

"SPOILED" is staged with a mountain of large white plastic bags comprising the set. They are filled with items of female apparel, including bras and underwear, that launch each story. The literal metaphor of the mountain of bags is that so many women’s lives have been trashed and left untold. The performers are clad in gender-neutral T-shirts and blue jeans.

The texts are drawn from Hess’s research archive of 22 stories, of which nine were selected for the World Premiere at La MaMa. The playing style comes from Elizabeth Hess's hybrid approach to performance, which fuses Eastern and Western physical theater practices with related performance disciplines including Mask and Puppetry. Her technique, described in her book, "Acting and Being: Explorations in Embodied Performance" (Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2016), yields a complex psychological layering of visuals, movement and text, with all three meant to resonate in their own frequencies in the work. (

The project was developed following a solo piece named "DUST TO DUST" which Elizabeth Hess performed at a UN conference on gender violence in 2014. In attendance was Elizabeth Scott Osborne, Esq., President of UN Women USA - Gulf Coast Chapter, who commissioned Hess to develop "SPOILED." Its title is a double-entendre in reference to male privilege (as in "spoiled by entitlement") and to female damage (as in the scorning invective "spoiled goods"). Originally the piece was workshopped as a solo piece based on material from India and the USA, but the work has grown to include Chile, Germany and Turkey, following interest generated in Berlin following a benefit reading for the League of Professional Theater Women (LPTW) International Award, dialogue with actors from Istanbul, and a cross-cultural collaboration in Santiago. There are presently 22 stories collected, of which nine were selected for this production. The variety of their sources illuminates the global nature of the epidemic of violence against women, which is not abating but escalating in some places, and receiving attention in a new light on the heels of the #MeToo Movement.

Not all the stories are told from the perpetrator's point of view: some come from men and boys who are sympathizers and helpmates. "We are not going after men," declares Elizabeth Hess, "we're going after the issue."

The piece has evolved through a developmental lab at La MaMa followed by a work-in-progress performance at Dixon Place in 2019/

The performers are Cherrye J Davis, Ninoshka De León Gill and Rebeca Miller. Set Design is by Deb O. Lighting Design is by Justine Burke. Sound Design is by Rosalie Neal. Dramaturgy is by Gina Stevensen. Production Manager is Kelly Kirby. Managing Director of The Hess Collective is Victoria McNaughton. Executive Producer is Elizabeth Scott Osborne.

There will be an Embodied Performance Workshop with Elizabeth Hess at La MaMa's rehearsal studios, 47 Great Jones Street, March 21 from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM. Cost is $50 for general public and $35 for students. The Workshop entitles you to a $10 ticket to the show. Info:

Three post-show moderated panel discussions are planned. On March 19, "Arts on Sexual Violence" will be moderated by Monika Fabijanska (of Contemporary Art Projects) and an opening night reception will follow. On March 22, "Gender-based Violence: What Can Be Done?" will be moderated by Elizabeth Scott Osborne (President: UN Women USA- Gulf Coast Chapter). On March 27, "Women in Collaboration: The SPOILED Process" will be moderated by Gina Stevensen (SPOILED Dramaturg).

Elizabeth Hess (writer, director) is widely known as an actor for her roles in "Clarissa Explains It All" (Nickelodeon, 5 seasons), "Law & Order," "Guiding Light," "All My Children" and "Another World." Her films include "Handsome Harry," "A Bedtime Story," "Italian Lessons" and "Buddy & Grace and Soldier’s Heart." Her solo shows, performed around the world, include "DUST TO DUST," "LIVING OPENLY & NOTORIOUSLY," "BIRTH RITE," DESCENT" and "AT/ONE" (all titles are capital letters). Her awards include a Madolin Cervantes Grant; ITI Armmono Festival Director’s Award and ITI Thespis Mono Festival Organizers and Audience Awards. She teaches performing and playwriting at NYU and internationally. She has also taught at The New School, Barnard College, Molloy College, National Theater Institute (The O’Neill), Fordham University, Sarah Lawrence College, Vassar College (Powerhouse Training Program) and New York Sumer School of the Arts. The Hess Collective's "Love Trade" (2018), her company's inaugural work, was also her La MaMa debut. It was a performance poem about sex games that Demeter passes on to her daughter, Persephone, when she wanders away from the Upper World and meets the exotic Shiva. (

Cherrye J Davis (performer) is an actor, vocalist, playwright and teaching artist. She has appeared in "The Sporting Life of Icarus Jones" (New Ohio), "How to Mourn an American" (Rough Draft Fest. 2019), "The Loophole" (The Public Theater), "Hope Speaks" (La Mama) and "Hamlet" (Classical Theater of Harlem), among others.  She appeared in "Extra Room: The Series, For Flow" (2011 HBO Black Film Fest. Finalist). She also performs with blues experiment The Nervous and appears in the live hip hop band Deathrow Tull. (

Ninoshka De Leon Gill (performer) has worked with Elizabeth Hess (The Hess Collective), Heidi Miami Marshall, Holli Leggett and Doriane Elliott. She has appeared in "Meshahnye" (Theatre for a New City), "Dracula" (Morris-Jumel Mansion), "Cabaret" (The Secret Theatre), "The Wishing Tree" (Signature Theatre). Her films include "Foreign Nationals" and "Love My Roomie."

Rebeca Miller (performer) has worked with Theatreworks USA, Classic Stage Company, On The Rocks Theatre Company, New York Shakespeare Exchange, Shakespeare in the Square, The Box Collective, Everyday Inferno, and the NYC Fringe Festival, EST, New Georges and Pulse Ensemble Theatre. Regionally, she has appeared at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and Florida Studio Theatre. (

UN Women (sponsor) is the global champion for gender equality, working to develop and uphold standards and create an environment in which every woman and girl can exercise her human rights and live up to her full potential. They are trusted partners for advocates and decision-makers from all walks of life, and a leader in the effort to achieve gender equality. (

La MaMa is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theatre. La MaMa's 58th Season celebrates the centennial of its founder, Ellen Stewart, whose vision of nurturing new artists and new work remains as strong today as it was when she first opened the doors in 1961. La MaMa has presented more than 5,000 productions by 150,000 artists of all nations, cultures, races and identities. Cultural pluralism and ethnic diversity are inherent in the work created on its stages. Artists find a supportive environment for artistic exploration and audiences are part of the development of an artist’s work over time.

A recipient of the 2018 Regional Theater Tony Award and more than 30 Obie Awards and dozens of Drama Desk, Bessie, and Villager Awards, La MaMa has been a creative home for thousands of artists, many of whom have made lasting contributions to the arts, including Blue Man Group, Ping Chong, André De Shields, Adrienne Kennedy, Harvey Fierstein, Diane Lane, Warren Leight, Michael Mayer, Tadeusz Kantor,  Bette Midler, Meredith Monk, Peter Brook, David and Amy Sedaris, Julie Taymor, Kazuo Ohno, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

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Critics are invited to all performances.
Photos are available at: