From College Park to the Orange Revolution in Search of Eggs

From College Park to Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, A woman’s Journey for Donor Eggs

Helena Cavendish de Moura

The act of conception and its aftermath triggers a revolution in a woman’s mind and body.
Describe physical changes during pregnancy to an extra-terrestrial and they’ll think you’re describing transfiguration: our organs are rearranged, we become musculoskeletally and emotionally elastic beings enwrapped in a web of varicose, in a constant state of lachrymosity. To little 8-year-old Lenora zigzagging with hyperactivity in her parent’s brick College Park fixer-upper in her brick College Park mansion, that physical morphing is like super hero magic, an accepted part of her programming and play schemes in a universe of talking dolls and other pretend parenting paraphernalia. Later in life, Lenora will discover that she is like 12% percent of women in America of childbearing age and that pregnancy is not a given. Like a growing number of American women, the full-grown woman will pour all her financial and emotional resources into reaching that elusive and emotionally draining goalpost of becoming pregnant. More and more, getting pregnant is less and less of a choice for many as fertility rates continue to plummet. It is certainly not an option for the middle class as treatments become financially prohibitive.

Now bring together the aforementioned anxieties, desires and obstacles of modern Americans and fertility issues, pepper them with class-struggles, ADHD and wrap them into a 5’5” adult Lenora and send her on a train to the Ukraine to get donor eggs during a revolution and you have High Risk, Baby! a hilariously honest discussion about fertility, identity and what it means to be a “real” mother. You’ll hear one of the most honest and inner and outer dialogues, as well as a surrounding chorus of puppet voices with some strong opinions, while we navigate the tricky fault lines between a woman’s identity and her fertility. It is also the true story of actress and Push Push Arts co-founder Shelby Hofer and the distances she traveled in her quest to get pregnant with her husband, actor and director Tim Habeger. I sat down with Hofer after watching the play in Push Push Art’s new space in College Park. Her energy is unstoppable, and Hofer is, excuse the pun, impregnated with ideas about working more with women-teams to translate the feminine world.

“The whole play is filled with feminine energy, Hofer. “I started out with a creative Doula. We laughed so hard and we knew it’d work,” as she described Kali Quinn, a fellow art director who worked on the earlier stages of the surreal cosmology of a woman child who is jonesing for a baby. The multi- award-winning actress who is in fact from College Park, counted on some of Atlanta’s top talent to bring together all the emotional pieces strewn around from her personal story. Directed by Ellen McQueen, the play also features the work of New York-based actor, director and puppeteer Ariel Francoueur as the puppeteer, known for experimental and feminist theatre, and also going through IVF herself.

Hofer, whose mental and physical acrobatics on stage seamlessly connects all the dots and associations, from her hyperactive inner life as a child surrounded by her mad, alter-ego dolls to the 16th Century forceps used in the Ukraine clinic, said she believes in a certain “theatre magic” that takes place, especially when she joins forces with other creative women. That was the secret of bringing together such a rich tapestry of mediums and concepts, from film, to puppeteering, from cartoons and visual collages to sound, to finally tell her story, which at the end, is resolved with ease, love, simplicity.

“As women we are wired to handle a lot,” Hofer said. “You are always thinking in the future and the past. Acting, though, brings me 100 percent to the present.”

This is not a women’s play, Hofer said. It’s one fertility path for certain would-be parents of any gender. She said she is fascinated by the reaction by different genders to Lenora’s travails. The Push Push audience, when called by an 8-year old Lenora to answer questions about fertility and parenting as part of the play, bring a rich array of experiences and perspectives whether from a LGBTQ or heterosexual gaze.

The fast-paced, comedic monologue is 75 minutes and never misses a beat. A heart-warming, tender moment awaits us at the end. Ultimately, the play has a lot to do with taking risks and what she called “dancing with the universe.” Don’t be surprised or ashamed if, at the end, you might find yourself sniffling in unison with all genders and sexual orientations for a kind of love is somewhere inside all of us.

”Dancing With the Universe”
Paper doll/photography art work by Rob Nixon for High Risk, Baby!

LITERARY CRITIC DANIEL OSIECK INTERVIEWS LULA FALCÃO

General information:
Vultures in the Living Room is now available internationally
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1087881447
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1087881447
For a copy, please email: casafortepress@gmail.com
Digital copies: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/vultures-in-the-living-room
Or Kindle/Amazon: Please leave a review
ISBN #9781087881447

VULTURES IN THE LIVING ROOM, BY LULA FALCÃO

PRESS RELEASE: Daniel Osieck interviews Lula Falcão live May 5 2021

Falcão spoke with Brazilian literary critic Daniel Osiecki during his weekly Viva Literatura program about the very moment he thought he’d become a writer: it was in 1964, when news arrived of the military coup, which forced his father to immediately strike a match and set the entire family library on fire. Book-lovers, intellectuals, artists, students, became enemies of the state.

“From Lenin to (Pope) John XXII, we burned everything,” said Falcão, describing his father’s attempt to save his own neck in the days following the coup. “My father was an Atheist but he loved John XXIII,” he added. A Communist and intellectual, Falcão said his father was a voracious reader of Russian literature, sharing his devotion early on with his son.

Disappearing for six months into the mythical Sertão, the semi-arid Brazilian outback, his father later re-emerged to a country ravaged by the ultra-nationalist, U.S.-backed regime. The “Lead Years” ensued, and echoes of the torture chambers resonated through every corner, a dark, overhanging cloud of horror became stationary for many years to come. That eeriness, against a backdrop of our paradisiacal tropics, has given birth to this very contemporary narrative we associate with Falcão.

Lula is a newspaperman, a product of clacking and chaos of the Diario de Pernambuco newsroom, as he told his host. Having been there, I can attest it was like stepping into a film noir classic, where most of the editorial decisions were negotiated at the seedy downstairs bar. He opened up about his circadian, extra-curricular activities during the military dictatorship: “In the daytime I was a newspaperman, but I was also working for the “movement” clandestinely.”

Here are some translated quotes from the interview:

“I place my characters in completely absurd situations from the standpoint of physics, they traffic through a disturbed natural landscape.”

“I have no ritual and I try to have an undisciplined approach. In the old days, I used to think that I could only write if I heard newsroom noises, those newsroom noises were something phenomenal, I began noticing that I was distancing myself from journalism when those noises began disappearing. And as I left the noise of the newsrooms, the noise also left the newsrooms. Today newsrooms sound like intensive care units, incredibly quiet… in the old days we would shout, smoke… even when computers arrived, but suddenly, newsrooms became smaller, more quiet…”

“ I don’t try to be fantastical in my stories. They are stories sometimes set in a dystopian environment, sometimes in a distorted in environment, sometimes in an environment that seems apparently normal…our reality now shows that anything could happen, may happen, could have happened.”

Please contact casafortepress@gmail.com for review copies


Lula Falcão

VULTURES IN THE LIVING ROOM

Urubus na Sala

BY LULA FALCÃO

Translated by Helena Cavendish de Moura and Edited by Matt Miller

For more information and review copies: casafortepress@gmail.com

Casa Forte Press is delighted to announce its first translation of Lula Falcão’s Vultures in the Living Room, available in all bookstores worldwide and on Kindle in February 2021.

Lula Falcão is a recognized name in the world of culture, journalism, and political activism in Brazil.

Falcão’s writing is unmistakably original. He balances the impossible in storytelling: his prose is atemporal but deeply rooted in Brazil’s recent dark history. It is fiction rooted in physics, Big Bang theory, and the geophysical apocalypse of the Anthropocene era. It is funny at times, slightly absurdist, suffused with irony and biting criticism. Falcão’s Vultures in the Living Room, like Ionesco’s post-war Rhinoceros, is an important reflection on human vulnerability during times of political and social uncertainty.

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RIFLES

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Rifles

Translated by Andrew Michael Brown

The firing squad is in place for the new government’s first execution. There’s a festive atmosphere in the crowd, and national media’s live-streaming of the event is also available to spectators at home. We haven’t watched a public execution in 142 years, since 1876, back when the slave Francisco was hanged in the town of Pilar in Alagoas state. Now, it’s a different method. Handsome imported rifles will put down this traitor to fatherland and family values, a short and frightened little fellow accused of writing criticisms of the government’s improprieties. The public supports it and that’s all that matters, the new President announced to a press corps readied for the spectacle. Corporate sponsors include a cosmetics company and a bank.

During the week, through consistent announcements, the media covered the upcoming execution with a certain sobriety. But gradually, as the audience grew larger than expected, livelier spots began to emerge, like ads for football and Formula 1.  On TV news shows, reports profiled family and friends of the soon- to -be- deceased, and,  despite their sadness, expressing optimism for the government’s innovative ways of directing people to respect authority and preserve traditional values.  “It just couldn’t stay the way it was,” noted the defendant’s mother, an enthusiastic supporter of the new regime.  In a show of patriotism, she didn’t shed a tear.

Fuzis

O pelotão de fuzilamento está a postos para a primeira execução do novo governo. Há um clima de festa na plateia e os telespectadores também poderão acompanhar o evento transmitido em cadeia nacional. Desde 1876, há 142 anos, não víamos uma morte pública, demandada pelo Estado, quando o negro Francisco foi enforcado no município de Pilar, em Alagoas. Agora, o método é outro. Belos fuzis importados abaterão o traidor da pátria e da família, um sujeito assustado e baixinho, acusado de escrever impropérios contra o governo. O povo apoia, é o que interessa, disse o novo presidente a uma imprensa já preparada para o espetáculo. Os patrocinadores são uma empresa de cosméticos e um banco.

Durante a semana, em chamadas regulares, a TV anunciou o fuzilamento com certa sobriedade. Mas aos poucos surgiram vinhetas mais animadas, como nos anúncios sobre futebol e Formula-1, pois a audiência tem sido acima do esperado. Nos telejornais, matérias com a família e amigos do futuro morto que, apesar de tristeza, viam na medida governamental uma forma inovadora de conduzir o país dentro de padrões de respeito à autoridade e preservação dos bons costumes. Não dava para ficar do jeito que estava, observou a mãe do réu, eleitora entusiasmada do regime recém-inaugurado. Numa demonstração de patriotismo, ela não chorou.

Additional editing by Helena Cavendish de Moura