Women take centre stage in Ottawa this weekend

Women take centre stage in Ottawa this weekend with a rollicking tribute to the woman behind the Man in Black, a revealing view of the Arab world through the lens of female photographers, and a sharp new take on a famous French swordswoman.

All-female tribute to the Man in Black — and the woman behind him — among Sandra Abma's top picks

Johnny and June Carter Cash perform at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Feb. 18, 1985. An all-female tribute at Ottawa's Rainbow Bistro this weekend will feature some of the country couple's most famous duets. (Ron Frehm/Associated Press)

Women take centre stage in Ottawa this weekend with a rollicking tribute to the woman behind the Man in Black, a revealing view of the Arab world through the lens of female photographers, and a sharp new take on a famous French swordswoman.

The woman behind the Man in Black

Johnny and June Carter Cash would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year, so the organizers behind Ottawa's 8th annual tribute to the Man in Black thought it would be appropriate to toast the legendary couple with a lineup of female musicians.
Ottawa musician KJ Thomas, left, and CKCU radio host Greg 'Lefty' Harris. (Sandra Abma/CBC News)

They were lifelong musical partners, doting husband and wife, and country music icons. Johnny Cash died in 2003 at 71, just four months after his wife.

Expect foot-stomping, sing-along renditions of classic duets including Ring of Fire, I Walk the Line and Jackson, delivered with a fresh new twang by local singers including KJ Thomas, Danielle Allard and Sarah McClurg.

"You're used to that deep, burly Johnny Cash voice, and then you hear a female singing, immediately you're going to hear that tune for the first time," Thomas said.

Cash Bash is a fundraiser for CKCU, Carleton University's student radio station. The event is organized by Ray and Greg Harris, the hosts behind Friday Night Truck Stop, the station's weekly country music program.

Where: Rainbow Bistro, 76 Murray St.

When: Saturday, Feb. 24. Doors open at 8 p.m. Music starts at 9.

Cost: Tickets are $12 advance, $15 at the door.  Advance tickets can be purchased here.

Viewing the Arab world through a female lens

In Speechless, from Iranian photographer Shirin Neshat's series 'Women of Allah,' what looks at first to be an earring is really the barrel of a gun. (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
She Who Tells a Story is an exhibition of images of everyday life in the Arab world, seen through the lens of 12 female photographers from countries including Iran, Morocco and Yemen.

Their work allows us to peek into the the bedrooms of typical teenagers, tramp through landmine-sown fields and gain insight into the divisions that keep women from pursuing certain careers. The photographs range from the seemingly mundane to the metaphorical and even magical.

"They turn their eyes on social and cultural conditions for women," said curator Joanne Stober. "The women in this exhibition use their own viewpoints to reflect on their lives, conflict, times lived through conflict, and memory."

Where:  Canadian War Museum, 1 Vimy Pl.

When:  The exhibition runs until March 4.

Cost:  Admission to the museum is $17 for adults, $15 for seniors $13 students and $11 for children. For more information and to purchase family passes go here.

Look closer at this triptych from Moroccan photographer Lalla Essaydi and you'll see that all that glitters is made of bullets. (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

Play thrusts swordswoman into the spotlight

Ottawa actor and playwright Margo MacDonald is fresh off a run of her award-winning one-woman show Elephant Girls​, which tells the story of a British girl gang who terrorized the mean streets of London.

Now MacDonald, who has a passion for sifting through the past in search of women who defy gender stereotypes, in working on a new play about the swashbuckling career of 17th century French swordswoman Julie d'Aubigny, whose nom de guerre was La Maupin.

"She was a renowned duelist, opera singer, sword fighter and lover," MacDonald said.

"She dressed in men's clothing most of the time went around flaunting the fact that she was a woman who could defeat all the men with her sword."
Margo MacDonald at a read-through of her play in progess Maupin, about the life of a famed female sword fighter. (Sandra Abma/CBC News)

MacDonald and a team of local actors including Sarah Finn, Richard Gélinas, Mahalia Golnosh Tahririha and Kate Werneburg are workshopping Maupin under the guidance of dramaturge Mary Ellis. They will hold a public reading of the new work in progress on Sunday.

It's presented by Ottawa's TACTICS independent theatre series, which supports and nourishes new dramatic works.

Where:  The library at Arts Court, 2 Daley Ave.

When: Sunday at 4 p.m.

Cost:  Admission is free, but donations to help TACTICS support upcoming artists are welcome at the door.
Margo MacDonald plays gangster Maggie Hale in her play The Elephant Girls. 0:45

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