What Is Wild Yam?

Wild yam is an herbal medicine that balances women's hormones, discovered some 60 years ago by a woman. It is medicine for both PMS and menopausal symptoms. We hope that the Wild Yam Cabaret is medicine for the soft side of the soul. We who have listened and supported in the kitchens, the offices, the hospitals, the classrooms, often choose to feed everyone but ourselves. But artists cannot live through others. Creative work nurtures our souls. The WYC is making a safe place to birth and nurture emerging artists in our community. Being an artist is not about being discovered,or waiting to be perfect. It's about jumping out there, choosing ourselves, so we can learn and become good at what we do. 

We Do Have a History, and We Want to Share It . . .

The Wild Yam founder/producers are Eve Blackwell, Lynn Cross, and Carla Vogel, three women in various stages of middle age. We met behind the scenes in the late '80s in a huge community theater project, the Whittier Community Play,  involving over 600 people in an inner-city neighborhood of Minneapolis, MN.  It was called Flying Crooked.   Its title was borrowed from this poem by Robert Graves, whose theme was also one of our inspirations. Over 2,000 people saw it in October 1990,  and in 1991 the Minneapolis Committee on Urban Environment (CUE) presented us with their Neighborhood Environment Award for Arts.  We had put our hearts and souls into running the thing,  and when it was over, we realized we needed to put ourselves up front and center.   The next couple of years were pretty intense--deep research, communal meditation, drumming, brainstorming,  experimenting with different forms, and taking ourselves through many life changes--a divorce, grandmotherhood, and bye-bye to bad boys. The works of Clarissa Pinkola Estes, and Julia Cameron's book The Artist's Way really showed us our way! The process culminated in the launch of four distinctly original solo pieces, comprising the first  Wild Yam Cabaret.  We dedicated this show, and all future shows, to the goal of getting female performers out of the closet and onstage with their creative work.  As if by magic,  the Cabaret played to sold-out houses in the fall of 1995!  (See the St. PaulGrand Gazette article by Jan Shaw-Flamm.) We then brought these works to the 1996 Minnesota Fringe Festival, under the title Women Who Run With the Warthogs.  After that, many new characters and pieces were created and performed, and soon we took it to the next level... friends old and new began appearing in the Cabaret--poets, writers, solo performers, singers, musicians.  We have had to change venues many times, mostly because we keep outgrowing them!    In February 2006,  we were delighted  to learn that we were selected by the Minnesota Women's Consortium to receive its "Creative Women Inspiring Justice Award."   We feel very honored.     

Our fondest dream is to have a home of our very own, but in the meantime, friendly churches, community centers, and coffee houses have kept a roof over our heads.  Each show is proof that the community still needs us, and the shows just keep getting better and better.  What's the next level?  We're sure there is one, and that its manifestation will have a lot to do with YOU, our audiences and supporters!

So what is  the Wild Yam Cabaret right now?  A jewel in St. Paul, real grass-roots art, feminist (but not anti-male), a support framework that celebrates developed and developing artists without tearing them down, and most of all, a sparkling, gutsy, unforgettable night out!  We try to keep the admission very accessible (currently $8) so that everyone can attend.

And still Flying Crooked after all these years!

Some Favorite Links

Embracing Menopause Naturally,  Stories, Portraits and Recipes.  "A guide to balancing your midlife transition. A true companion for any woman who wants to nurture her spiritual and emotional growth, educate herself about cutting edge menopausal research, listen to other women’s stories, try out easy kitchen-tested natural food recipes, and enjoy good health before, throughout and beyond the midlife years."   To order the book, visit Amazon .

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 Producer Bios 

EVE BLACKWELL comes from a long line of subversive women.  Eve’s acting career bloomed for more than 30 years on many Twin Cities stages. Now approaching cronedom, she has tossed her acting resume and prefers to be known as “a grandmother of three who likes to play goddesses.”  A fiction writer for children and adults, she performs solo at the WYC and often hosts as a middle-aged Marilyn Monroe.  Eve also teaches for the Minneapolis Public Schools, where she creates programs that incorporate theater arts with core subjects for children K-5. 

LYNN MARIE CROSS has always enjoyed writing, performing, and making things. Her first collaboration with Eve and Carla began in 1989 with the co-creation of the Whittier Community Play.  Lynn is a poet, writer, editor, and performance artist who often appears on the WYC stage, and has been known to show up as one or another iconic female character.  Would you believe . . . Marlene Dietrich?  A stint with the San Francisco Mime Troupe was a very formative artistic experience for her.  Lynn is also a grandmother of three, and is employed as a program administrator at the University of Minnesota.  She is also working on a novel. (Yeah, right.)

CARLA VOGEL started her performing career as a 10-year-old director of neighborhood plays.  She is now a professional storyteller and teaching artist with KAIROSalive! Her original stories, based on her family history, Yiddish culture, and personal memoir, were birthed and nurtured by the creative midwives of the Wild Yam Cabaret.  Carla is a roster artist with Young Audiences, COMPAS,  and Minnesota Folk Artist Registry.