My ancestors are either bursting with pride or rolling in their graves.
This 90-minute animated/storyboarded feature-length film was written as a play + fashion show for Oaktoberfest, but 2020 decided we can’t have live theater, so I upshifted the whimsy. This story, about a seamstress with a dream to enliven a tradition to reflect a new world, is filled with characters who want to express themselves with a dress. In a deep conversation about German ancestry, history, and heritage, eleven women come up with a new way of seeing the world.
Closing Night: November 14th
Here’s the trailer:
What people are saying:
Reviews are strong! There is a unifying sentiment not reflected in these quotes that the faceless, stick figure paper doll actors are initially unsettling, but allow viewers to look past the representations, listen to the voices, and more deeply consider diversity. (This effect was by design; the way we view women vs the deeper reality of our bodies.)
“Congratulations on such an evocative piece!!! Its awesome seeing Oakland as a character as well as a uniting force “ — Yodassa Williams, author, CA
“A cool piece of work; a clever use of the dirndl. Very artistic, thoughtful and certainly addresses the many issues facing women today. One line in particular stood out for me: ‘Nationality is amazingly fluid.’ Reminds me of ‘we can’t choose our heritage but we can choose which pieces to identify with.” — Leah D., WI
“This amazing animation of German couture (dirndls), folk music (The Beer Barrel Polka), and language (*) rejects the family history many grew of us grew up with. It’s delightful and fun! *Ausgezeichnet”!!!” — Louise H., CA
“Thanks so much, and congratulations on this achievement and wonderful contribution to the community!” —Jay Ashford, Dimond Improvement Association
“The Dirndl Diaspora is a unique idea that makes some potent statements about ethnic heritage at a time when divisiveness reigns. We see this great group of women interacting and bonding despite differences, which is true to how Oakland really is. White people in other places don’t always have insight into aspects white liberalness that is off-putting to people of color. Oakland’s cooperative culture offers a positive example to the world, and your play can serve to broadcast that idea.” —Nina Egert, Author, OR
“Brings modern viewpoints smashing into traditional folk wear fashion.” — Jennifer Rosbrugh, Historic Sewing [read full article here]
“Like My Dinner with Andre, The Man from Earth, Mindwalk, and Waking Life, this is a movie that centers around cool conversations. Worth seeing again and again. The Dirndl Diaspora will have a cult following among German expats and their descendants—and we are legion! It brought some healing to the part of me that has always been a little embarrassed to be associated with Hitler’s country.” —Damian N, HI
“Mazel tov on your production of “The Dirndl Diaspora!” I loved the conversational style and the diverse cast. You truly created and demonstrated a space where women inspire each other by sharing beauty, laughter, strength and ideas. We watched it yesterday on the TV. I watched it again this morning on my laptop, with headphones—I needed the second viewing to absorb all the nuances and ideas that were presented. The headphones helped me to better hear the unfamiliar German words. You touched upon so many important issues, and handled them in a delightful and gentle way. That is not an easy task when you’re discussing ideas such as ancestral and generational trauma and guilt, racism, and Nazism. You were able to bring up many important reminders: the joy of women supporting other women, paid support of local artists, and embracing the beauty of traditions, heritage, and ethnicity in non-derogatory ways. Thank you, too, for the reminder, so important again at this time, that we can’t let the worst people define a country. In summary, to use your words from the play, ‘Don’t you see how good this is?’”—Daniele G. HI
(Spoiler alert for the rest of this one:
“I loved the use of the letters to bring more women’s voices into the conversation. In particular, with Isabella and her two grandmothers, you demonstrated the possibility of healing that can come from addressing a painful past, moving past guilt and shame, and committing to a better future. Another favorite part was when the women realized that they were likely related! That was an unexpected plot twist! I loved Nomi, and the Kauaʻi connection, of course. Katrina was hilarious! You inspire me!”)
“Fun and engaging. I see The Dirndl Diaspora as an excellent educational tool; we need to get better at blending and appreciating all the fabulous cultures that make up America. This unique show has something for all of us.” —Moya Stone, Overdressed For Life [read full article here]
“A sisterhood of friends, acquaintances, and strangers who bond over the shared stories of German history and culture. The lead character is endearingly scatterbrained, and among all the stories and sayings familiar to those with immigrant grandparents, the reporter brings a modern German perspective. I was charmed all the way through, finding a light and simple way into heavy subjects like colonization and the darker periods of German history —but there’s no way around them. I found myself googling historical snippets and beer culture—I learned so much! I also appreciate how much work went into the project. The story, dialogue, characters, actors, recording, music and the art and animation, and the EDITING. I understand firsthand how much time, love and energy it takes to pull something like this off. This is a HUGE accomplishment! Amazing and highly recommended!” — Felix B, CA
“A wonderful tale about women, their loves, their search for meaning in their family histories and forging their futures together in community. Congratulations, Kristen, on bringing us all together in our dirndls!” — Sarah Kobrinsky, poet, CA
What did you think of the show?
Here’s a joyful interview
With Deborah Livingston, who played the amazing Julie.