Female Entrepreneurs – Let go to Create
After long months of Zoom calls, a group of women who’ve been meeting to create art for over twenty years reunited in the Hamptons for a retreat weekend of creativity and community. Co-hosted by Alison Chace, actress and executive producer of the recent documentary Under The Same Sky, and Lee Brock, founder and artistic director of Off-Broadway theater company The Barrow Group, the affair afforded the squad, called FAB WOMEN, a welcome opportunity to gather in person again at Chace’s summer cottage Old Trees following an isolating pandemic.
Women ranging in age from their twenties to their seventies gathered at Old Trees, which boasts some of the oldest trees in the quiet beach village of Quogue. The cottage, built-in 1894, has been the scene for many of Chace’s past women’s empowerment salon parties and provided a soothing backdrop for artistic expression during the retreat. While Chace continued to connect women during the pandemic on her online platform Pink Wisdom, she welcomed the chance to open up her home and once again share space and ideas with friends in real life.
Both hosts sought to design an agenda-free weekend with plenty of options, but zero requirements, for the club, which functions as a women’s development company under the umbrella of The Barrow Group. With no set itinerary, guests could explore Old Trees’ lovely gardens full of blooming hydrangeas, enjoy the pool or hot tub, play tennis, relax on the beach, or paint. Chase and Brock led through the artful practice of letting events unfold naturally.
“We have become so busy in our lives that we aren’t giving enough time to our creativity. Most of the time is spent doing busy work,” Brock said. “When we stop and do something different, it may spark something creative.”
The combination of a safe and nurturing environment proved fruitful, and a natural rhythm opened up when the group released expectations. The women found it refreshing to share in ways largely absent from their lives during the pandemic. Conversation bloomed as the women gathered over meals, went for morning beach jaunts, and told stories around the pool.
Something neither host planned arose from one of these pool stories when playwright Arlene Hutton mentioned one of her recent works in progress, a solo show about how politics can divide families. The other women craved more. So after dinner on Saturday night, guests curled up on cozy couches and chairs arranged in a circle and took turns sharing their new work. Hutton performed an excerpt from her show. Actress Renata Hinrichs performed a continuation of her solo show Random Acts. Writer Kate Neuman read her latest essay, slated for publication in the literary magazine Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood. Singer-songwriter Kristin [Last Name?] sang a medley of songs, including an original piece titled “Live for Today.” Comedian Kate Robards performed new excerpts of her show Ain’t That Rich, which she’ll present at The Providence Fringe Festival in July and at SoHo Playhouse in the fall. Brock and Chace regaled everyone with humorous stories. After connecting virtually for so long, a deep level of empathy, love, and support was tangible among the group.
On their final morning, the FAB WOMEN gathered at the ocean. Animal rescue advocate Missy Hargraves pointed out a pod of leaping dolphins, revealing magic is right in front of us if we only take a moment and look. The women took away from the weekend a gentle reminder that creativity can spring from unexpected places when we allow stories to simply unfold in the community.
By Kate Robards
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