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Women’s History Month: Celebrating Women In The Arts – Spotlight On Jenn Boehm

by Karen Tortora-Lee on March 30, 2011

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These women of the arts hail from different disciplines, but they all have an indomitable spirit and a luminescent spark that makes them amazing human beings who are out there every day, doing amazing work.

Today we continue our series with Jenn Boehm.

The first time I saw Jenn she was standing on the stage at the Planet Connections Festivity Awards Ceremony receiving thunderous applause from the Off-Off Broadway community along with hoots and hollers that filled the theatre that night.  She graciously accepted the love. Right away I thought “Gosh, I have no idea who this woman is … but I better get to know her!

Luckily, I was able to make that “gosh” a reality and while I’m sure there’s much more to learn about Jenn, I’m pleased to say that I’m in a position to do just that.   What I can say is that Jenn is many things to many people, but seemingly an endless inspiration to most.  Currently she’s the c0-artistic director and managing director of Looking Glass Theatre and has a hand in everything they do from the internship program to each season’s productions.

Well, that’s no small potatoes.  Or wait … is it?  You see  - little did I know Jenn’s story starts not on the boards but in the barns … Jenn came to theatre by way of the farm.  Oh, with a stop in pro football along the way.  (What?) I better let her explain.  Take it away, Jenn  -

Absolutely delighted and honored to be a part of this long list of fabulous women!

For years, decades, centuries, women have been told, ‘you can’t.” Like so many others, I’ve heard this statement plenty of times in my life.

Thankfully, my parents always told me “you can.” My folks are organic farmer/ranchers, so I learned the meaning and importance of hard work very early in life. As the eldest of two girls in our farm family, I was, in many ways, the son my dad never really had. We were given loads of responsibility. We all worked together, sharing the heavy-lifting on a daily basis, learning the importance of organization, teamwork and leadership, taking great pride in our work. Those early experiences laid the foundation for the strong, independent person I have become.

Growing up in a rural town (pop. 600) in the Midwest, the majority of “role model” women in my immediate world were farm wives, grocery store cashiers, school teachers, or nuns. (Yes, my hometown is a Catholic community with a huge monastery/abbey and a priory, but that’s a fascinating conversation for another day.) These were awesome ladies who loved their lifestyle, their work and were seemingly completely content. But were they really? My own mother had traveled thousands of miles from her exotic homeland (Thailand) to a foreign country (the good old USA) in 1970 and barely spoke a word of English. She persevered, overcoming numerous cultural and environmental obstacles in the hopes of a better future, a better life. Witnessing her transformation was inspiring. And motivating… I always wanted more, to be more. No matter what society or the small town gossips said or thought that a “small town girl” was capable of doing.

Education, experience and a host of opportunities eventually propelled me into the wide world of sports. Specifically, professional football, a universe primarily powered and led by men. Nevertheless, we – my fellow female co-workers and I – always strived to be stronger, quicker, more-informed and simply better on all fronts, both as individuals and as a team. Accept every challenge. We took advantage of every opportunity to suggest to new ideas, lead new projects, to work harder than anyone else, despite “no, you can’t” responses or eyes rolling “here she goes again.” To which I always thought – yes, here she goes again, get onboard or get out of the way!

Having a deep love for theater since I was a kid doing those awful (but cute) pageant plays in grade school, I decided to pursue my passion full-time and as the stars would have it, found Looking Glass Theatre. Founded by Justine Lambert almost 20 years ago, this is a very special place dedicated to strengthening the voice of women in theater and the arts while creating a community of artistic freedom. I went from a world of men, men, men to a community of women – it was jarring and amazing. We provide a place for women artists of all backgrounds and genres to develop and grow their work. To share their voice as loudly and proudly as they like. To make a difference and empower everyone to create without judgment. There are still hurdles every day, but knowing that there is a collective push and leap to make great things happen, makes getting over them just a little easier. Working together, “no, you can’t” has become a laughable phrase and an accepted challenge.

So yes, we can. We can, indeed.


What’s up at Looking Glass Theatre?

~~  Lincoln on Hester Street AKA 1911 – special “Remember the Triangle Fire” event, staged reading benefiting Planned Parenthood – Friday, March 25
~~  Three By the Sea – children’s show written by Donna Latham, directed by Julia Martin, playing through April 10
~~ Submerged! A night of new works staged readings – Friday, April 8
~~  Just A Reading – a new show written by Ryan Glass, directed by Chanda Calentine – April 28–May 15
~~  EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women – Saturday, April 30 (join the Looking Glass team!)
~~  Spring Benefit – “Prom II, the sequel” – Tuesday, May 10 (portion of proceeds will be donated to Revlon Run/Walk for Women)
~~  Spring 2011 Writer/ Director Forum – our semi-annual festival of new works featuring emerging women playwrights and directors – June 2-26


More About Jenn Boehm

Originally from North Dakota, Jenn joined Looking Glass Theatre in late September 2005 and is thrilled to be a part of the organization. As Co-Artistic Director and Managing Director, she manages all functions of Looking Glass spaces and Looking Glass Theatre as an artistic, creative not-for-profit organization. From its internship program and acting classes to rentals and each season’s many productions, including children’s shows and two new works festivals, Jenn is at the forefront of Looking Glass business.

Also an actress, her next project is Just A Reading (Looking Glass Theatre). Recent credits include: What Happens to Women Here at Richmond Sheperd Theatre (Stone Soup Theatre Arts); The Maguffin (Philadelphia Fringe Festival) at Second Stage at The Adrienne (Stone Soup); The Hope Chest (Foundry Players, Washington DC); Stone Soup’s world premiere of The Ghost Dancers (Sanford Meisner Theatre) and the production’s return engagement in the Midtown International Theatre Festival (June Havoc Theatre, MITF Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play); A Chicken Goes to Broadway (Samuel French Short Play Festival/Peter Jay Sharp Theatre); Shapeshifter at The Barrow Group Theatre; Young Jean Lee’s Church at The Public Theater; and Always Family at The Kirk Theater on Theatre Row (Small Pond Entertainment).

Jenn also served as the Managing Director for Planet Connections Theatre Festivity (2008-2010) and works as a graphic designer and freelance sportswriter.


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