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the inspiration for ripe - an open letter to the audience

9/11 happened. A year later, my dear friend Judy Toll passed away, having lost her nearly five year long battle with cancer. A month after that, I separated from my husband of fourteen years.

For me, all of these losses were connected. It was as if the universe had shined a huge magnifying glass on the preciousness and fleeting nature of life itself. A blazing reminder of how little time I really did have. On how gorgeous the life I do have is, and how the time to celebrate that life is right now.

ripe was born out of that realization. It has been brewing in me, on some level, since that time. In the face of great loss, I had an opportunity to begin my life again and rebuild. To reinvent. And I did.

This play tells that story. 

It is my sincere hope that this play can serve as a wake up call for all that see it - a reminder to embrace our own magnificent and precious lives.

I can't wait to see you in the theatre.


Wendy Hammers


thoughts from director karen aschenbach

As a writer and stand up comedian, Wendy loves words and word play tickles her more than anything. Once we knew this story was best told with her body as much as her words, we had our work cut out for us to find the funny, the metaphor, and the poignant juxtaposition in movement and body shape. 

To accomplish this we both agreed to be open and free in our process together. The joy of working with a fellow artist who knows that her ideas can be precious or useless at a moments notice is truly to be valued. Everything and anything was on the chopping block until it proved itself to be worthy of the story and the form, what we call "dance text". 

Beyond the autobiographical nature of the material, we kept digging to define the deeper specifics that sparked Wendy’s impetus to create this show and there we discovered the universal message – We must not just honor, but relish and bask in our ‘ripeness’ as human beings and particularly as women.

Many wonderful scenes were written, rehearsed and eventually nixed to give way to others that more clearly proved the premise of the show.

The scenes that we did choose stood up to rigorous and sometimes amorphous improvisational exercises to find the exact (down to the finger tips) movement, body shape and words. We wanted the ‘dance’ to be as powerful as the 'text' we chose to most accurately express Wendy’s own discovery and desire to encourage all people to let our natural gorgeousness shine.