Lone Star Feminist Andrea Baldwin Talks About Gender, Texas and Beyoncé
With a passion for Texas and feminism, Andrea Baldwin presents her new one-woman show, Lone Star Feminist, to audiences tonight. Get to know the University of Houston-Clear Lake communications professor (as well as local style setter) as she gears up for her first Houston-based performance.
Lone Star Feminist Origins
Lone Star Feminist is an autoethnographic experience. I map my story of becoming a feminist by identifying with other women from Texas. I’m kind of figuring out what it means to be a feminist in this state, so it negotiates explicitly feminist ideas with regionality. I always said that given the opportunity, I'd want to do something where I would talk about my life in Texas. When I lived in the Midwest, I was surprised that people weren’t as excited about their state or didn’t know facts, like what their state flower is. During that time away, I found that I became much more of a Texan.
Texas pride is ingrained in all Texans. It is normalized so much that we don’t bat an eye to it. I don’t think being a Texan comes from a place of arrogance—we just have a lot of wonderful things to share. As a state, we are genuinely happy, at least in my experience. Perhaps for the other 49 states that can be intimidating.
Taking Feminism to the Stage
I say explicitly in the show that my feminism is messy. Part of this show is negotiating where I am currently as a feminist or how I became one. I hold loosely to the fact that I might change and that sometimes I fail at being a feminist. This doesn’t make me any less of a feminist, it just makes me a human being. Another thing I note during the show is to never forget where you came from because that back story is so important. For that reason, I also explicitly talk about my pre-feminist day or, as I like to say, my “pre-woke” days.
Opening Up to Audiences
One thing that makes me a little nervous is talking openly about my family. I discuss my relationship with my grandmother and my mother, who have both passed away. They were my first lessons in feminism. There is a vulnerability there that I reveal towards the end of the show. For that reason, I am nervous to let people in. However, I’m willing and open to do so.
Challenges of Writing a One-Woman Show
It is all you. In the past, I’ve written several group shows, which I love writing. With LSF, it’s all on me. It took me a year to write this show from start to finish. Many days, I would just sit in front of my computer and say, 'I’m going to write' and nothing would happen. Some days I would start crying or I would do everything but that one particular thing because I was always a little nervous. However, no show is ever completely solo. Even though I’m on stage by myself, there are a lot of hands that helped make this happen.
Inspiring Texas Women
Some of the women I talk about in the show are Ann Richards, Wendy Davis, Leticia Van DePutte, Barbara Jordan, my mother, grandmother and, of course, Beyoncé.
Yes, A Scene About Beyoncé
That scene wrote itself. I got it done within an hour. One of my mentors, Craig Gingrich Philbrook, a performance studies professor at Southern Illinois University, would say that when you’re doing solo work, even when you’re not writing, you’re still writing because you’re thinking about it. When I wrote that particular scene, Beyoncé was in my head all the time. I was listening to her music, watching Lemonade and going to her concerts. And this is Houston, so you can’t not think about her. That was the first scene that I wrote for the show—it just poured out of me.
The Take Away
I hope that Lone Star Feminist sparks interest about people's own stories and their own identities, whether they were raised in Texas or not. I feel like all good performance work should inspire others to think about their own life story—that’s what the arts are for. I also hope that it makes people think about what their idea of feminism might look like.
Monday, April 24 from 7—10 p.m. $5. University of Houston-Clear Lake, Bayou Theatre, 2700 Bay Area Blvd. facebook.com/lonestarfeminist