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Newsletter August 2019
In this issue of the ICWP Newsletter, we celebrate women's theatre, bring you up-to-date with the latest happenings around the world, and congratulate our contest winners. We welcome new friends, and we say goodbye to a treasured one. Our spotlight this month is on Zimbabwean artist, Thoko Zulu.
Here's to innovative, engaging, and equitable theatre!
Women’s theater is flourishing across the USA. Notable festivals include the Women’s Theater Festival in Raleigh, NC, the Philadelphia Women’s Theater Festival, the Br!NK New Play Festival in Milwaukee, the Ain't I a Woman Playfest in Louisville, KY, and The Tank’s LadyFest in NYC. In Ireland, the West Cork Fit-Up Festival is based on a tradition of traveling companies from the 1950s and showcases the work of playwright Erica Murray.
Women’s Work Theater Collaborative is creating opportunities for theater artists over 40 and kicking things off with a season that explores madness.
Audiobook publisher Audible is now producing live theatre, including Margaret Trudeau's Certain Woman of an Age and Diana Nyad's The Swimmer.
The Southwick Players, a local amateur dramatics society in Southwick, England, is now playing Moira Buffini's Dinner, a play with West End success more than 10 years ago. ICWP Member Eliza Gull notes that the play “probably single-handedly put an end to dinner parties across the UK and hopefully silenced the ‘chattering classes.’”
Nigerian architect turned dramatist, Ifeoma Fafunwa, is featured in the August edition of The Guardian. She discusses the impact of her play Hear Word! and her dreamy debut in the Edinburgh festival. Read more
Playwrights Yuki Ellias and Sneh Sapru along with Vidit Tripathi bring Hello Farmaaish to theatres in India this season. Online news journal The Hindu writes that the play is “a heartwarming story of resourceful women who surpass the limitations of society and their surroundings, to reinvent the world they live in.”
Online publication The Theatre Times presents an insightful take on Indian street theatre and its impact on the formation of Indian feminist theatre. The article, written by Praggnaparamita Biswas and originally published by Museindia in 2018, is worth sharing today in our heightened celebration of international women playwrights.
Metaphysics by Mona Curtis
A Better Ending for Widow Tweed by Tasha Partee
Weather Report by Catherine Haigney (her third win!)
Kathi E.B. Ellis passed away July 15 as a result of complications from cancer. She was 59. Kathi was an active member of ICWP for more than 20 years. She was a frequent contributor on the ICWP discussion list, offering support, advice, and artistic insights into the art of theatre and playwriting. She gave her time, energy, and considerable talents by organising reading events of plays by ICWP members to celebrate International Women's Day and then later for SWAN day. Read more about Kathi here.
Tracy Biggar, Ontario Canada
Sheila Duane, New Jersey, USA
Claire Ince, New York, USA
Barbara Litt, New York, USA
Vita Morales, New Jersey, USA
Rosemary Parrillo, New Jersey, USA
Candyce Rusk, Texas, USA
Welcome to three new Volunteer Staff members:
Yi-Lin Eli Chung, Ohio, USA (Dramaturg and Literary Assistant)
Kim Duvall, Ohio, USA (Newsletter Co-Editor)
Karen Serrano, Arizona, USA (Volunteer Coordinator)
Thoko Zulu is a multi-award winning Zimbabwean artist. Additional footprints include championing community theatre for policy advocacy at Amakhosi Theatre and Nhimbe Trust in Bulawayo, with work used for behaviour change campaigns that examine critical social issues at a national and regional level. She continues creating work, drawing attention to serious humanitarian issues. We spoke with Thoko about her experience as a playwright.
A: I was born and grew up in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Life was hard for a family of eight kids living in a two-bedroomed flat where I slept on the floor under the kitchen table. A very blurry childhood traumatised by a family secret. At school I won awards for writing short plays and acting.
Q: Your biggest challenge as a female playwright in your country?
A: The industry is dominated by egoistical men who shoot stronger female players down. They resist change and gang up to close doors. Old groupies continue sticking together to win each other contracts and tenders even when not adequately qualified.
Q: How do you continue to educate yourself?
A: Downloading and reading a lot plays of successful and flopped shows to see how one play was a success and another a failure. Seminars and mentorships are also useful avenues.
Q: Achievements you are most proud of?
A: My play script publication Lunatic! in a British academic journal by Boydell and Brewer under the African Theatre Series Contemporary Dance Play 17.
For general questions, contact Margaret McSeveney, Communications Manager: email@example.com
For the Board of Directors, contact Pat Morin, President:
Sharon Wallace - Editor
In keeping with our theme this year, International Women. The May issue of the ICWP Newsletter continues to feature informative news articles from around the world.
This month's news also gives an engaging commentary on Black ballerinas finally get shoes to match their skin.
A standard feature Coming Attraction highlights our ICWP members productions.
I hope that members continue to post their upcoming productions on the ICWP website on the Homepage in the achievement area. If you have pictures of your productions please send them to us, as we would like to have them posted on our social media forums, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Congratulations to the 3-Minute Play Contest Winners, and welcome to all the new members.
The Spotlight article "Necessary questions: on representation and role of Women in Egypt's theatre", continues to address the disparity in theatre.
Women and Playwrighting around the World
Black ballerinas finally get shoes to match their skin
When Ballet Black pack their bags for their coming spring tour, there’ll be some unusual footwear among their costumes.
Not just the wellies they wear to portray striking South African miners in Ingoma, their latest work, but dozens of pairs of pointe shoes that are making their own little piece of history.
Ballet Black has collaborated with shoemaker Freed to create the UK’s first pointe shoes in colors to match black and mixed-race skin tones.
The Guardian. Read the full article in The Guardian
Coming Soon! Member Productions
A Trip to Eden
26 May 2019 7:00 PM | Nancy Gall-Clayton
Women Leading Women 2019 Series, Itinerant Theatre, 809 Kirby St, # 339, Lake Charles, Louisiana. Fifty-one plays have been chosen for readings over two weekends: May 24-26 and May 31-June 2. Fridays and Saturdays at 7, Sundays at 2 p.m. For additional information, check Itinerant's Facebook page or call (337) 436-6275.
"A Trip to Eden,"
a new phone app allows Sophie to time-travel to Eden where she gives Eve some salient advice.
The Victorian Ladies' Detective Collective
by Patricia Milton, May 4-Jun 2, 2019
World Premiere directed by Gary Graves, with Chelsea Bearce, Alan Coyne, Stacy Ross, and Jan Zvaifler
A "cheeky thriller" that centers women detectives and victims instead of the killer. In 1893, a serial killer not unlike Jack the Ripper terrorizes actresses in the Battersea district of London. As the police have been unable to stop the Battersea Butcher, three women who live in Mrs. Hunter's Lodging House for Ladies take up the task. But without modern forensics, access to crime scenes, or cooperation from the authorities, how can they succeed?
Thu-Sun, May 4–Jun 2, at Central Works Theatre
2315 Durant Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704
The Ties that Bind - at Slice of Life Festival
08 Jun 2019 7:30 PM | Nancy Temple
”The Ties that Bind,” a play by Nancy Temple, about the relationship between a mother and her adopted daughter, was accepted to
Theatre One’s Slice of Life Festival,
June 7-9, 2019
Alley TheatreMiddleboro, MA.
Audiences will vote on the best play, and the winner will go on to development with Theatre One
Spend Your Kids' Inheritance
03 Jul 2019 12:50 PM | Catherine Frid
New musical Spend Your Kids' Inheritance will be part of the Toronto Fringe Festival, July 3 - 14. Book and lyrics by Catherine Frid, music by Frank Hovat, directed by Andrew Lamb. Tickets $13. www.fringetoronto.com
What I Gave I Have - July 2019
06 Jul 2019 7:00 PM | Catherine Frid
Catherine Frid's new play about John McCrae, the Guelph-born poet who wrote: "In Flanders Fields" premieres at the McCrae House Backyard Theatre July 6 - 20. Director: Valerie Senyk, Actor: Bryndyn Boonstra.
CIRCULAR - June 13-30
13 Jun 2019 8:00 PM | Laura Shamas
CIRCULAR by Laura Shamas, directed by Jeanette Harrison, starring Carla Pauli and Ogie Zulueta.
Produced by AlterTheater in partnership with ACT's Artshare. altertheater.org
In San Francisco, at ACT's Costume Shop Theater, 1117 Market Street, June 13 - 22.
Ticket prices: $15-$49. Low-income patrons: Choose Your Own Price at every performance. 85 minutes.
Description: When war crashes from Afghanistan through time into Homer'sOdyssey, a battle-scarred soldier seeks refuge in Odysseus' timeless place of solace. On Circe's island, a combat doctor and her commanding officer must face off against the known and unknown, modern and ancient monsters, determined to leave no one behind.
Henley Rose Presents a Staged Reading
of "Before Lesbians"
02 Jun 2019 5:00 PM | Elana Gartner
As part of receiving the 2nd place in the 2018 Henley Rose Playwriting Competition for Women, "Before Lesbians" by Elana Gartner will receive a staged reading.
Sunday, June 2, 5 pm
Downtown Y, 605 Clinch Ave. Knoxville, TN 37902
Join us for a discussion afterward! Happy Pride Month!
April 3-Minute Play Contest
Our judge, Kristen Osborn, has chosen our top 3 plays. Congratulations to the following plays/playwrights:
Transdroid by Catherine (Nina) Haigney
Catherine Haigney (AKA Nina) has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia and taught the “Great Books Program” at St. John’s College from 1989-2016. She now lives in the Ragged Mountains of Virginia and has begun a second career in writing absurdist plays.
Ten of her scripts are posted on newplayexchange.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, but has no presence on social media for reasons her next dystopia may reveal. “Transdroid,” a three-minute take on Artificial Intelligence applied to replace women, celebrates the potential for solidarity between exploited beings.
Her other plays use mythology with magical realism to highlight the connection between various political oppressions and our mass destruction of nature. Her work in 2019 will center on climate change and why we cultivate denial. Catherine’s play scripts are posted on newplayexchange.org.
New Kitten by Jennifer O' Grady
Jennifer O’Grady is a playwright and poet.
Full-length plays include Charlotte’s Letters (Henley Rose Award; Newvember Festival Dublin; Semifinalist: O’Neill Playwrights Conference; BETC’s Generations Award),Paranormal Love (MTWorks Newborn Festival; Finalist: Newvember Festival), Ellery (selected for The Best Women’s Stage Monologues 2017) and Quasars (selected for The Best Women’s Stage Monologues 2014 and Best Contemporary Monologues for Women 18-35).
Her short plays are published or forthcoming in Thirty New Ten-Minute Plays(Applause), The Best Ten-Minute Plays 2017 and 2016 (Smith and Kraus) and Stage It 3: Twenty Ten-Minute Plays.
Her plays have been produced or presented by the Irish Repertory Theatre, Rover Dramawerks, Heartland Theatre, The Bechdel Group, Monster Box Theatre, 13th Street Repertory Theatre, AboutFace Ireland, Phoenix Theatre, The Factory Theatre at Greenville University, White Mouse Theater Productions and other companies.
She is also the author of two poetry books, White (Mid-List Press First Series Award) and Exclusions & Limitations (MadHat Press, 2018). Her poems have been taught, set to music and featured in numerous places including Harper’s, The New Republic, NPR, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, Poetry Daily and American Poetry: The Next Generation.
She lives with her family near New York City. You can learn more about Jennifer and her work by visiting her website at www.jenniferogrady.net
Sex Education by M. Lynda Robinson
M. Lynda Robinson has been working in theatre, film & TV for the past 30 years as an actor, director, producer, teacher, coach, and playwright in Boston, NY, & DC.
She has won numerous acting and playwriting awards and has 3 published 10-minute plays.
She teaches playwriting at the Gloucester Writers Center and Acting for Film at Boston Casting & other venues. Lynda lives in Massachusetts on beautiful Cape Ann.
ICWP New Members
Necessary questions: On representation and role of women in Egypt's theatre
Nora Amin, Wednesday 27 Mar 2019
As March brings along Women’s Day and Mother’s Day, the Egyptian stage should do its part. But how can we pay tribute to women in a performative culture that has stigmatised women and created clear borders for their representation?
One should really ask if the representation of women in Egyptian theatre is still controlled by the patriarchal mentality of our culture and society?
On the whole Egyptian woman stage artists deny that any control is being practiced against them by male artists and artistic leaders, but to what extent do they belong to a patriarchal mentality?
This question is seldom asked. Are the female artists truly tackling women’s issues, or are they serving the status quo by recycling the same old stereotypes?
Some Egyptian female theatre-makers have the rare stamina to carry on with their special signature style and their issue-oriented topics, like Effat Yehia, Abir Aly and Rasha Abdelmoneim.
Others are quickly satisfied by the representation of the seductive woman portrayed as a kind of vampire. One can easily imagine a theatrical landscape of those seductive vampires fighting with the characters of Effat and Abir.
Nonetheless, the characters presented by those theatre directors will never be part of mainstream theatre, nor of the state theatre concept of female characters and issues.
Here's to the innovative, engaging and equitable theatre!
I would like to introduce myself as the new editor of the ICWP Newsletter. I have been a member of the Board and secretary since 2014. I am a playwright, poet and teacher. As of last year I have accepted the position of editor of the newsletter from Mona Curtis, who served as editor for many successful years to focus on her creative work.
The newsletter team and I look forward to continuing to produce a lively and informative Newsletter for the membership.
The Theme for this year's Newsletter: International Women Playwrights
Sharon Wallace (Editor)
Amy Drake(Coming Soon- member productions)
Karin Williams (Articles of Interest)
Eliza Wyatt (Spotlight)
Amy Oestreicher (International News)
Pat L. Morin (ICWP President)
To produce the newsletter every 3 months
February, May, August, November.
From Karin Williams VP
Here is the new logo, created by Indonesian artist Samul Abdi
The new logo illustrates our global mission as an organization, while highlighting the diversity of our membership with rainbow colors. Several versions are now available for different uses.
From Amy Drake
MY LIFE WITH MAHLER
A one-act reading of a monologue
by Amy Drake
Sunday, March 10 at 7:00 p.m.
Madlab Theatre, 227 N. Third St. Columbus, OH
PASSAGEWAYS: Songs of Connection, Abnormal and Sublime
16 March 2019 7:00 PM - Amy Oestreicher
Written and directed by Julia Pascal
At the Finborough Theatre
May 21- June 8, 2019
IDA .B. 'N The Lynching Tree
Written by Carolyn Nur Wistrand
Directed by Cherelle Palmer
February 15, 16, 22 and 23 2019
Cook Theatre, Dillard University
THE OWL GIRL
Written by Monica Raymond
Directed by Bryna Raanan
February 28-March 20
The Center At West Park
Tickets are available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-owl-girl-tickets-53977563345
For more information, visit https://www.thml.org/
From Wendy-Marie Martin
ICWP is very excited to report that our 3-Minute Play Contest is off and running! With three rounds under our belt and submission levels rising, it looks like the ICWP 3-minute Play Contest is here to stay! We’d like to take a moment to thank our first three judges, Joy Hendry, Jill Patrick and Lindsay Price, and congratulate all of our Top 3 Winners so far:
JANUARY 2019 WINNERS (Theme: Secrets):
Secret Sharers by Dori Appel
Little Match Girl by Susan Cinoman
Miranda's Secret by Nina-Catherine Haigney
OCTOBER 2018 WINNERS (Theme: Epiphany)
Sea Changes by Christine Emmert
Moon Pixels by Judith Pratt
The Harvest by Michele Rittenhouse
JULY 2018 WINNERS (Theme: Survivors)
The Last Little Girl by Kay Adshead
Marney and the Cuttlefish by Elizabeth Douglas
Survivors by Carol Libman
Meet the women who kicked it all off as our 3-Minute Play Contest coordinator, Wendy-Marie, has the pleasure of interviewing our first 3 winners and learning more about their writing process.
Wendy-Marie: Can you share with our members how and when you became a playwright?
Kay Adshead: From being a very small child I always wanted to make theatre. I made up plays, acted in them, roped in friends, and told everyone what to do. I also made the scenery and costumes, ran box office etc. So no change in my ambitions actually. I always wanted to write, I just left school, went to RADA, and acted first.
Elizabeth Douglas: I started playwriting this past April. As a nonfiction writer, I had gone down to the University of North Carolina to do research for a project, a biography, but this particular story kept jumping out at me as a play. So I decided not to fight it and spent the summer studying playwriting on my own, and wrote a ten-minute play as an exercise, which I then submitted to a few festivals. Incredibly it was produced in September and again in January.
Carol Libman: I'd known I wanted to be a writer from a very early age, but initially had my eye on being a foreign correspondent, getting my idea from an old movie with that title. I did manage to become a columnist for the Montreal Gazette at age 18, but foreign assignments were not to be. Married young and moved to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, for seven years, joined the Sault Theatre Workshop, started writing plays. And was forever bitten by the bug.
Wendy-Marie: How would you describe your experience creating 3 min plays?
Kay Ashead: I love short plays. I have a low attention threshold as an audience member. I get restless easily. I think there are artists who operate as marathon runners and other like sprinters. (That said of course, I normally write 90 - minute plays, and I have written very long plays.)
Elizabeth Douglas: I used to work as an editor. It always amazes me how much you can cut out of a piece of writing and still have the essentials--and how much stronger a story becomes with fewer words.
Carol Libman: I've had some experience and some success writing ten-minute plays, and liked the challenge of compressing the action still more. The shorter the play, the closer to the end is the beginning.
Wendy-Marie: What are your top 3 tips for emerging playwrights?
Don’t be too self- critical. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Rewrite.
Elizabeth Douglas: I am so new, I'm the one who needs tips! But I often think about the exquisite writer Annie Dillard who said about writing, "Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time."
Carol Libman: See plays, read plays, mull over ideas, find actors or other writers to read scenes, get feed-back, but don't be too swayed by it, unless you're convinced it's valid...keep going, take the punches, try not to be overwhelmed by so-called 'experts', meet with other playwrights for mutual support; and realize that the cliche is true: plays are not written, they're re-written.
Visit our membership page for more information on upcoming submissions for our ICWP 3-Minute Play Contest!
Not a Member? Join Here
Sharon Baker, South Carolina, USA
Gael Chandler, California, USA
Susan Cinoman, Connecticut, USA
Judith Cockman, Ontario, Canada
Hera Cook, Wellington, New Zealand
Suzanne d'Corsey, Vermont, USA
Chana Feinstein, California, USA
Susan Ferrara, New York, USA
Teresa Fogel, Connecticut, USA
Ed Friedman, New York, USA
Amy Garner Buchanan, Middlesex, UK
Sara Gmitter, New Mexico, USA
Stephanie Griffin, Pennsylvania, USA
Catherine Haigney, Virginia, USA
Jeanette Hill, Texas, USA
Gayle Hudson, Massachusetts, USA
Donna Latham, Texas, USA
Lylanne Musselman, Indiana, USA
Jill Patrick, Georgia, USA
Susan Jennifer Polese, New York, USA
Diane Rao Harman, Ohio, USA
Andrea Rockower, New York, USA
Moriah Shiddat, Michigan, USA
Jenifer Toksvig, UK
Eunice Uwadinma-Idemudia, Nigeria
Kristin Ward, Pennsylvania, USA
Desiree, Webber, Oklahoma, USA
Maggie Wilson, New York, USA
Ellen Wittlinger, Massachusetts, USA
From Karin Williams
The Stage reports that women playwrights are finally getting some exposure in the West End.
India’s first International Women’s Performing Arts Festival was recently staged in Kolkata.
The Women of the World Festival in London celebrates International Women’s Day in March.
Theatermania highlights eight women whose work should be on Broadway in 2019 (even though no new plays by women are scheduled to premiere).
Another irksome parity issue in theater that’s getting some attention:the long line for the women’s restroom.
The Emergence of Neuro-Theatre
Essay By Edward Einhorn
Read More on HowlRound
Yours for innovative, engaging, and equitable theater.
ICWP contact email: email@example.com
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July 2018 Newsletter
50/50 Applause Award Review for the 2017-2018 season
We thank the members that nominated theatres. We also hope you had a chance to read the press release and view the video.
The International Centre for WomenPlaywrights announces its 2018 50/50 Applause Awards, honoring theatres that produce plays written in equal measure by women and men. At the same time, the Centre finds that the vast majority of theatres around the world are coming up short in terms of gender equity.
The awards honor theatres at least half of whose productions in their July 2017- June 2018 seasons are written by women. Further, a theatre must have staged three or more productions during the season and have plays authored by both males and females in their season. For the 2018 Awards, only Main Stage productions were taken into account, as that is where most theatre budgets are spent and where playwrights receive the most media attention and career advancement.
The 62 recipients of this year’s awards are found throughout Australia, Canada, Finland, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, United States, and Wales.
For the 2017-2018 season, approximately 60% of the qualifying theatres are repeat recipients. For example, Here Arts Center has made the list for six years in a row, while off the WALL has made it for five consecutive years. Awardees range from community and college theaters to internationally renowned public theaters.
Approx 400 theatres were reviewed, 103 nominated, 62 awarded
Nominations by volunteers, theatres, ICWP members:
25 by ICWP volunteers
7 ICWP members
30 theatre nominations.
Four facts that emerged from the statistics in this year’s awards:
1.Many theatres believe that not enough women submit to theatres, giving them more male playwrights to choose from.
2.Most of the women in theatres these days are the same women playwrights, and the same plays! New plays by women still rank very low.
3.Most of the recipients from last year did not repeat this year. Most of the recipients from the year before did not repeat from the previous year, although we did change the regulations this year to “main stage” productions, and the previous year to mandating that there be at least three productions to demonstrate a real preference for women playwrights.
4.We are in the 25-28 percentile for production of women plays compared to men.
The ICWP board is reviewing how, or if, the 50/50 will continue next year given the cost and volunteer effort in relationship to the results.
Patricia L. Morin, Margaret McSeventy 50/50 50/50 Applause Award Co-Chairs
ICWP MEET AND GREET JUNE 2018 NEW YORK CITY
"Left to Right" Maxine Kern, Peggy Howard Chane, Joanna Piucci, Melba LaRose, Francesca Rizzo, Courtney Frances Fallon, Ruth Zamoyta, Donna Spector, Karin Diann Williams, Robin Rice.
Introducing ICWP’s 3-Minute Play Contest!
Looking for inspiration to write a new play every month? ICWP's new 3-Minute Playwriting Contest is here to help!
How does it work?
A guest judge will provide a theme to help get your creative juices flowing and motivate you to write a new play monthly. Winner names and play titles will be featured on our website and in our monthly newsletter.
MEET OUR JULY JUDGE, JOY HENDRY
Since 1970, Joy has been prime-mover of Chapman, Scotland's Quality Literary Magazine. Working through the magazine, she has led the way with many welcome Scottish developments – in Scots language, the teaching of Scottish literature in schools and helped steer the drift towards greater Scottish autonomy (etc!). Through Chapman, Joy helped revitalise Scottish drama by stimulating extensive and radical debate – leading ultimately to the creation of the Scottish National Theatre, and other projects.
CLICK HERE firstname.lastname@example.org to visit our contest webpage for submission details
Or (if you can’t insert a hyperlink into the CLICK HERE) “Visit our membership page for submission details!
Welcome New Members
Peggy Chane, USA
Elizabeth Douglas, USA
Willow Orthwein, USA
ICWP Now Playing & Coming Soon
GOD BLESS PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY
By Amy Drake
IndyFringe Festival, Indianapolis, IN
Indy Eleven Theater, IndyFringe Building, 719 E, St, Clair St. on Wed., Aug. 22 at 9:00 pm, Fri., Aug. 24 at 10:30 pm. and Sat., Aug. 25 at 7:30 pm.
Arts advocates Elise, Susan, and Ted band together to save the home of a once-revered female painter, while the studio of a male artist has become a tourist destination. The trio discuss the struggles women have faced taking their rightful place in history. Can they rescue the property in time?
HOW THE COWARDLY LION BECAME COURAGEOUS
Staged reading at Madlab, July 20, time TBD, Columbus, OHhttp://www.madlab.net/index.html
Prequel about the Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz
ICWP 50/50 Award goes to four theaters in Pennsylvania
Hedgebrook celebrates the 20th anniversary of its women's playwrights festival with a summit for female dramatists and theater administrators.
The number of women playwrights produced Off Broadway is actually increasing!
Two NJ Theater companies receive the 50/50 Award.
Know Theater in Cincinnati is the only Ohio theater to receive the 50/50.
Newsletter Banner by Mona Curtis www.famosapublications.com
ICWP member Connie Bennett lives in Eugene, Oregon, where she’s just announced her retirement from her position as director of the public library. She is very much looking forward to an abundance of creative time and new business cards which will identify her as simply: “Playwright”!
Connie still considers herself an emerging playwright, as she began writing plays eleven years ago, relatively late in life. Although she was active in theatre in college, she had never heard of ten minute plays until her friend Paul Calandrino showed her the book “Take Ten.” Inspired, she began trying her hand at writing ten minute plays, as did Paul and Connie’s theatre professor emeritus husband, Richard Leinaweaver. A year later, with a number of scripts in hand, the three of them founded a regional ten minute play festival “Northwest Ten!” at the old Lord Leebrick Theatre in Eugene. The festival continues to this day (the tenth annual show slated for March 2018 at Oregon Contemporary Theatre) with Connie and Paul continuing as founding co-Executive Producers.
Connie soon discovered that writing for the theatre let her connect disparate ideas, layers of meaning and metaphor, and explore personal transformation in a way that was extraordinarily satisfying. With her undergraduate major in Philosophy, minors in Theatre and Mathematics, and her Master’s in Librarianship, Connie’s interests are nothing if not eclectic! And with her background in library management, as well as experience in all aspects of theatre gleaned in college, in dance troupes, and as the wife of a theatre professor, she also got involved in the producing side of theatre from the beginning. She enjoys finding a balance between the solitary act of writing and the intense comradery of theatrical production.
Connie joined ICWP early in her writing career, as soon as she discovered it. Not only is she an active feminist, she considers herself an “international” having lived outside her native United States during her teen years (in Zambia and what’s now Zimbabwe) and also for a year as a young wife and mother (in Costa Rica), plus she’s visited more than 50 countries. Most of her plays explore themes of female identity and cross-culturalism. For example, her play “Gray Reflections,” which was a finalist in the Actors Theatre of Louisville 2010 National Ten-Minute Play Contest, is about a teen struggling with gender identity and an older professional woman ambivalent about retirement. Her play “What Price an Orange?” was inspired by the dissonance of cultural and economic differences on a trip to Morocco; it’s been produced in Eugene and by Island Theatre in Bainbridge, Washington.
One of the joys of playwriting for Connie is connecting with other theatre people, particularly other women playwrights. Through ICWP, she connected with Paddy Gillard-Bentley, and has had several plays performed as part of the annual She Speaks in Kitchener, Ontario. Connie’s also had a play in the site-specific Kitchener festival, Asphalt Jungle Shorts. “Assigned Blessing,” a comedy about the ethics of playwriting, was performed in a bar! She very much enjoyed being hosted by Paddy and son Sam one wintery weekend in Kitchener, despite her ridiculous shoes! Connie also relished traveling to New York for an equity reading from her first full length play “Hungry Hearts” (based on the novel by Francine Prose), which was a finalist for The David and Clare Rosen Memorial Play Contest at the National Yiddish Theatre – Folksbiene.
Also through Paddy and ICWP, Connie connected to Jess Eisenberg’s 365 Women a Year Playwriting Project during 2014, its very first year, for which she wrote “Mother/Tongue” about La Malinche, the Native American woman who was translator for Cortez during the conquest of Mexico. Subsequent 365 plays have included such diverse women as anthropologist Mary Leakey, Black activist Bree Newsome, author Eleanor H. Porter (who wrote Pollyanna), socialite Alma Mahler, and Maud le Vavasour, who was the original Maid Marian. With her librarian training, she enjoys researching these amazing women almost as much as writing plays about them. Connie has produced an annual SWAN Day (Support Women Artists Now) reading of 365 plays written by Oregon-based playwrights since 2015, at Oregon Contemporary Theatre.
Connie had also been thrilled to participate in the first two years of the William Inge Festival PlayLab in Independence, Kansas. Her play “Amanda Transcending” (365 Women a Year play in 2015) was workshopped there in 2016, and has been rewritten into a full-length version which will be read in Eugene, Oregon as part of the NEA Big Read (Joy Harjo) in February 2018. This play interweaves two historical stories: a blind Native American woman, Amanda DeCuis, who was separated from her family and incarcerated in a reservation in 1864, and the contemporary woman, Joanne Kittel, who was inspired to build Amanda’s Trail as a way to begin healing the community’s historical trauma. The second Inge PlayLab (2017) workshopped Connie’s play exploring rape and informed consent: “Rouge + Noir” which will also be part of the Northwest Ten! festival this year. The Inge PlayLab is a rich opportunity to meet other participating playwrights and learn from the likes of Lee Blessing, Lauren Gunderson, Beth Henley, Alice Tuan, and David Henry Hwang.
One unusual project Connie’s been involved in is very short plays published within the stairwells of a parking garage! She curated and produced the original “Step into Theater” stairwell in 2012, which featured her “Shall We Play” and this year will be back for the updated stairwell with an Augmented Reality enhanced play, “Hex Le Key,” inspired by Eugene’s 20x21 international mural project.
Connie has tremendous appreciation of her playwriting colleagues in Eugene, particularly writing buddies Barbara, Nancy, and also Cai. She’s learned so much from fellow students in Paul’s classes, from co-teaching workshops with him, from reading hundreds of scripts over the years as a festival producer, and from her buddies at NewPlayWriMo! And of course, this article wouldn’t be complete without mention of her amazing children Jessa, Alexa, and Jeff, and her awesome grandchildren Marisa, Leo, and Olivia!
New ICWP Officers & Board
Patricia L. Morin, President
Karin Williams, Vice President
Rita Barkey, Treasurer
Sharon Wallace, Secretary
Sophia Romma Sithokozile (Thoko) Zulu
Wendy Marie Martin
Jeanette Bent, USA
Author and playwright Dr. Ronni Sanlo is the Director Emeritus of the UCLA Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center (LGBT) Center and a frequent keynote speaker and consultant on LGBT issues in Higher Education. Now retired, Dr. Sanlo was the Senior Associate Dean of Students and professor/director of the UCLA Masters of Education in Student Affairs. In a previous life, Dr. Sanlo was an HIV epidemiologist in Florida. She earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Florida, and a masters and doctorate in education from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. Ronni is the originator of the award-winning Lavender Graduation, a commencement event that celebrates the lives and achievements of graduating LGBT college students. Ronni continues to research and write with a focus on LGBT history which is the foundation for the award-winning documentary Letter to Anita. Her memoir is The Purple Golf Cart: The Misadventures of a Lesbian Grandma. Her most recent publication is The Soldier, the Avatar, and the Holocaust, an historical novel about the last five months of WWII. Her next project is an historical novel of lesbians in Key West. She has written and produce her first readers' play, Sing Meadowlark, and is working on new plays with LGBT themes. She lives with her wife, Dr. Kelly Watson, in Palm Springs, CA and Sequim, WA. Ronni’s website is http://www.ronnisanlo.com
Nancy Temple, USA
"Truth Against the World: The Life and Loves of Frank Lloyd Wright" written and directed by Christine Toy Johnson (conceived by Alan Campbell and Christine Toy Johnson) will have its world premiere on April 2-3 at North Carolina State's Kennedy-McIlwee Studio Theatre in Raleigh, NC. The play stars Tony-nominee Alan Campbell (SUNSET BLVD.) as Mr. Wright. The Kennedy-McIlwee Studio Theatre is located at 2241 Dunn Ave, Raleigh, NC 27606. For details and tickets, please visit https://tickets.arts.ncsu.edu.
"Till Soon, Anne" (book and lyrics by Christine Toy Johnson, music by Bobby Cronin) will have a concert presentation on April 23 in NYC at Shetler Studios, PH1, 244 W. 54 Street, starring Abby Mueller (BEAUTIFUL) and Wade McCollum (ERNEST SHACKLETON LOVES ME), directed by Lisa Rothe. The performance is being done with support from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Creative Engagement Fund. For more details and to RSVP, please email email@example.com.
Lynne S. Brandon has a workshop production coming up May 18-20 at Boston Playwrights Theatre in (guess!) Boston, MA of her full-length play,"At the Line." It is about Division 1 college women’s basketball, and how a Black lesbian head coach was “outed” by an assistant coach and forced to resign. It is based on true events, with a healthy dose of fictionalization to round out the bare details that became public. An early version of "At the Line." was a semifinalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. All shows are free, and we’re hoping for a good turnout of women athletes!
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