Behold Her: Five thousand years of Jewish women and beauty

An all-women vaudeville with live music. Streamlined, road-tested and ready for travel.


What does it mean to be described as a real “Jewish beauty?” This 80-minute love letter to Jewish women from Eve through Instagram — those whose stories we’ve heard, and many we’ve never heard of (but should have) — answers this surprisingly profound question in the words and voices of Jewish women themselves (and about time.) Set in the infamous communal dressing room of Loehmann’s Discount Designer Clothing store (of blessed memory), the show features two remarkably versatile actors, one gifted musician, and a cranky wardrobe attendant who redefine the meaning of Jewish beauty in a series of songs, monologues and short plays that runs the gamut from hilarious to gut punch. Co-conceived with Michaela Shuchman for the 2018 Philadelphia Fringe Festival, currently under development as a touring production. For synopsis and reviews, go to

School Play
Five actors playing over thirty characters bring to life the true stories of people like your neighbors and family in an hour-long show that makes the dire budget crisis in Pennsylvania’s public education system relatable to more citizens — and inspires voters to demand a viable, sustainable method of funding our schools.  A live, documentary theatre collaboration conceived by Arden and co-created with theatre artists Seth Bauer and Edward Sobel, School Play harnesses the emotional power of theatre to dramatize the long-term societal cost of deconstructing a system that both embodies and empowers American democracy.  Read more >

A full length drama that follows three generations of women who reconnect across time, via the mystical powers of family, memory, culture and cake. It’s 1973. Hana Becker, a brilliant, driven professor of architecture, is shocked when — with no explanation — a cookbook scrawled by her mother while she was starving to death in Terezin Concentration Camp during World War II, arrives at her Manhattan apartment. Unleashing buried questions, wartime memories and fantasies Hana has struggled for decades to repress, the book, which Hana cannot open, ultimately opens up Hana. 
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Knowing Bliss
Just before her 30th birthday, African American anthropologist Bliss, finds herself at a paralyzing personal crossroads. Her adoptive Caucasian mother Laura, a second tier musical theatre actress, continues to insist that she knows nothing about Bliss’s birth or background, leaving Bliss ironically ignorant of any anthropological data about her own history. Having learned that she has some Native American DNA, Bliss summons Laura to join her on a vision quest to a sacred ceremonial site high atop a cliff, to bond with her ancestors. But when Bliss’s DNA results turn out to be wrong, the belief systems by which we define race, culture and identity suddenly seem less reliable.

Monsters I Have Eaten & Other Tales

A newly updated suite of monologues about disparate women’s lives threaded together by a blistering — and ultimately cataclysmic — plea from a desperate female revolutionary. These 15-20 minute diatribes, some funny, some physical, all memorably disturbing, have been performed singly and in cabaret-length groupings of three; but have now evolved into an evening-length work for 3-4 actors. While the original work was created in the 1990s, sadly, the portraits and the conflicts they address are still all too relevant.


An operatic drama set in the desert of North Africa, in the early 1900s, as Swiss journalist/novelist/explorer Isabelle Eberhardt pursues her unlikely quest to become a female Sufi mystic. Dressing, riding and living as a man as her anarchist priest father had taught her to do, Isabelle battles substance abuse, sexual addiction, malaria, dysfunctional relationships, misogyny, religious taboos and political conflicts — not to mention an assassination attempt, imprisonment and artistic despair — in a brief, epic life that ends, appropriately, with a flurry of unfinished manuscript pages filling the theatre (and a male editor adding his name to them). Also in development as a film script.


Daddy's Girl

Full-length, original musical. “A woman’s self esteem starts with the right foundation.” So says America’s first and best-known sexy lingerie tycoon, Louis of Beverly Hills, typically at the most inappropriate moment possible. When his daughter, a middle-aged Women’s Studies professor, finally returns home after two decades for his funeral, she finds herself struggling to sum up Lou’s high-profile life and body of work for the on-call Rabbi who will officiate. Was Papa a charming liberator of women and sexuality, or the ultimate male chauvinist? With her university now questioning her own validity as a feminist because of her family ties to Lou, Tracey re-assesses Lou’s impact on feminism and on herself, and reveals an intimate connection between new school political correctness and old-fashioned judgment. Cast size; 10 plus 8 chorus.

Jason The Bunyip Slayer
Family musical for school or professional performance. A lonely, muddy, much-feared critter from the Australian Dreamtime struggles with his awkward looks and widespread unpopularity. At the same time, Jason, a mouthy, chubby 11-year old transplant from Philadelphia to an Australian town, suffers his own failure to blend into his new habitat. When the two outcasts’ paths collide, Jason seems to have a unique ability to see and/or communicate with the mythical misfit — which only evokes more scorn from his schoolmates… except for one self-possessed girl, Miranda, who champions Jason and his high-concept friend. Seeking a composer/lyricist.

In the early 1900s, Liza McCool, a feisty, multi-talented Quaker Feminist in her twenties, has just become aware of the writings of political theorist Henry George. His radical plan for reforming America’s economy in order to share wealth throughout our society so inspire her, that she devotes her life to promoting his ideas. When the board game she invents to demonstrate George’s system falls into the wrong hands, namely those of an unemployed vacuum cleaner salesman, Liza’s game becomes the basis for the best known, highest-grossing game of competitive capitalism ever marketed by a heartless, male-dominated corporation. Liza’s nightmare becomes our wildly imaginative, visual and metaphorical musical theatre piece for all ages, with a scrappy/punky original score and cast of six.

Short Works


A modern riff on the myth of Penelope, in which a despairing woman, awaiting her husband’s return from the Gulf War, considers a proposal from his best friend. 1 M, 1 W. Finalist in Red Bull Theatre Festival of Short Plays, 2016.

Beauford Delaney Paints Marian Anderson

The haunting contralto voice of African American singer and civil rights icon Marian Anderson eclipses all others in the mind of schizophrenic, gay, black, ex-patriot artist Beauford Delaney, whose celebrated portrait of his muse inspired this play.  4 W (3 AA), 3 M (2AA)

An evening of irreproducible chemistry; ironically ideal for Valentines Day. Four vaguely-related plays explore the unpredictable reactions that can occur between human beings in a state of need, when sufficient societal pressure is applied at a precise moment in time. The lonely victim of a Tinder no-show goes home with a probably psychotic grammar freak. A lonely, elderly woman with a small kleptomania problem takes temporary shelter with a philosophical street vendor. Lesbian lovers face surreal sabotage by a previous love interest. And a pair (or several) of misfit, schizophrenic barflies meet their ideal mate(s).

Trio of interdisciplinary dance theatre pieces based on works of art with flight imagery, each featuring a long poem/monologue. Approximately one hour of performance time. A fourth piece is envisioned.

PICTURES OF THE GODDESS: WingSpan, Part I; after losing her arm to a hay-baling accident, a farm woman is comforted by a visit from the Victory of Samothrace.  Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Wrote, directed, produced. Recorded score by Rob Redei is available; Sept. 2000; re-staged Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival, July 2015


wednesday: WingSpan, Part II; an office drone is saved from drowning in boredom and booze when a homely sparrow alights on his front porch. Presented by New Dance Alliance Performance Mix Series at Dixon Place Theater, NYC.  Wrote, directed, produced. Nov. 2001


FLOWN:  WingSpan, Part III; A 19th c. sculptress is astonished when a beloved work of art she is forbidden to sell for profit takes flight overnight, from its pedestal; site-specific outdoor performance with live original music and dance,  Sept. 2003. Wrote and produced, Philadelphia, July 2002

10 plus 8 chorus.