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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com, 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
March Spotlight: ICWP
Hear what ICWP members say about our great organization.
The value of ICWP on my life? As a writer I often work in a vacuum. The organization has opened that door out to opportunities, personalities, and a wider look at writing and the women who write. I wish that we could not worry about gender in writing, but since we must, I am proud to know glimpses of other women and their work.
ICWP has been a wonderful community to be part of. The advice from my peers across the globe has been invaluable in the impact it has had in my perspective as a woman playwright. As an emerging writer, I’m just learning the ins and outs of the professional playwriting and theatre world, and hearing the experiences that more savvy writers have already had, as well as actual critiques on my plays, has been so helpful!
ICWP is a wonderful network that, not only publicises opportunities, but links us directly to women writers with whom we can share experience and ongoing questions about our practice. It also encourages generosity which makes us all more pro-active and thoughtful. I have entered in to correspondence with those who have similar passions and I have prompted conversations, as have they, which have provoked new writing projects.
From overseas, a distant land, I joined ICWP where none of my compatriots had ever been a member. After my short article was placed on ICWP website, about a year ago, I received multiple messages with positive comments, and thus a window of communication with other playwrights opened to me. Joining the feedback group was an additional opportunity for me to exchange my viewpoints with others. I drew the attention of some colleagues to this subject that the unique culture of a playwright could affect the play. ICWP also motivated me to have my plays translated into English.
Overall, ICWP has provided me with an excellent opportunity to communicate with other women playwrights in various parts of the world that means a lot to me.
Mahin Mohasseb, Iran
ICWP is a sanctuary for a playwright like me who is writing in English as a foreign language from Bangladesh. Not only the opportunities to produce, write or stage English plays are very limited here but also the use of English as a creative language is quite recent and carries the burdens of colonial history. I have managed to stage my plays due to funding from the British Council and the American Center, most of which were amateur productions. So I wasn't sure about my work and what I could do about my interest in writing plays. Joining ICWP has allowed me to hear from women playwrights all over the world and I learned about their individual struggles. Veteran playwrights provided guidance and shared the story of their journey while the fledgling writers shared their passion and tenacity which uplifted my spirit and pushed me to once again go back to the work of imagining possibilities. The writer forum critiqued my new script and the feedback was so inspiring that I decided to plan for an academic career centered around creative writing. The regular updates about opportunities pushed me to produce three new scripts last year, two of which got published in the literary page of a national daily and a literary journal. So ICWP in a way has breathed new life into my play writing dreams and I am truly nurtured by this community.
Results of the Annual Meeting
Lucia Verona, our long time Vice President, is stepping down. Mona Curtis, our long time Newsletter Editor, is also stepping down. We have enough returning Trustees to provide continuity and new members to give fresh insights and talent.
Sophia Romma (returning)
Rita Barkey (returning)
Amy Drake (returning)
Wendy-Marie Martin (new)
Patricia L. Morin (returning)
Debbie Ann Tan (new)
Sharon Wallace (returning)
Karin Williams (returning)
Thoku Zulu (new)
The Treasurer Rita Barkey reported on the expenditures for the year 2017, including PayPal fees, annual software fees, website support and communications support.
Surveying members to assess needs and opportunities.
50/50 Applause Award Team
58 recipients received the 2017 Award.
Social Networking Group
Patricia Morin gave social media statistics for Twitter and Facebook.
Current team members are Amy Drake, Karin Williams, and Debbie L. Miller. There are several applicants for the new Editor position.
Script Feedback Group
Nina Gooch continues to moderate this group.
The Communication Committee has identified the goals of an enhanced website, making it more user friendly, and enhanced email communication with members.
I’m a long time volunteer usher for Greater Boston theaters. I’m a member of the Dramatist Guild of America, Playwright’s Platform (Boston area), Merrimack Valley Playwrights (Lowell, Mass.), Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights, and New Hampshire Writers Project.
Emily Adler, USA
I am a playwright, screenwriter and published author from New York City. My plays include: The Frog in the Flipper (full production at the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center, St. Paul, MN; staged reading at The Playwright’s Center, Minneapolis, MN), The Trumpet of the Swan (adaptation, full production at Hartford Children’s Theater), Supernatural Playboy (staged reading at The Danny Kaye Playhouse, NYC), Andromeda Speaks (full production at the New York New Works Theater Festival), and Face (staged reading at The Cell Theater, NYC; full production at the Overtime Theater, San Antonio, TX).
Justine Gelfman, USA
Donna Gordon, USA
I have put on five productions in San Diego. I am a playwright and University at Berkeley graduate, PhiBetaKappa. I am also an actor and costumer. I have been a teacher and caregiver in the past. I have played a lead in two of my plays, a minor role in my murder mystery reading, and I was a costumer for a dance studio. I am a native of San Diego still living there, with a roommate who is a published poet and artist.
Christie Perfetti Williams, USA
Patti Wray, USA
Now Playing & Coming Soon
If you have a play or a reading between April 1 – April 30, please email Amy (email@example.com) before February 15 and it will be featured in the NOW PLAYING column of the April newsletter. Any play or reading in May will appear in the COMING SOON column.
MAIZE, by Judith Pratt: a play about the genius geneticist Barbara McClintock, at Risley Theatre, Ithaca NY, Feb 23-25, Mar 2-4. Includes discussion by women scientists from Cornell and Ithaca College. https://www.facebook.com/MaizeMcClintock
Gentlemen’s Pact by Karen Howes Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main St., Ivoryton, CT 06442, presented as part of the Women's Project Initiative. A staged reading directed by Addie Gorlin and presented on Saturday March 3 at 8PM. Tickets are $20 for general admission, $10 for students, and $15 for seniors. Box office 860-707-7318, hours M-F 10 am to 4 pm. Here is the link for the WPI page on the playhouse website.
Is there an app for that? by Paddy Gillard-Bentley, directed by Colleen Daley, performed by Suzanne Langdon, Robin Bennett & Tracy Biggar
FLUSH INK PRODUCTIONS presents staged readings of short plays, monologues & poetry on the theme of #MeToo because #TimesUp.
Emmanuel United Church - 22 Bridgeport Rd. W. - Waterloo, On. Canada
March 3 at 8:00 pm Donations at the door will go toVera's Place & Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region.
Please note: Paddy is directing other plays for this event.
The Melting Pot by Carol Lashof Everyday Inferno Theater at The Access Theater, 380 Broadway, NYC
March 16-24, 2018
Revelation by Shirley Barrie, will be produced in Shifting Spaces, a program of 3 one-act plays by Those Women Productions at Live Oak Theatre, Berkeley CA from March 23 - April 8, 2018 http://www.liveoaktheater.org/
The image used in this newsletter is the work of Ellen Chan. It was downloaded from Pixabay on February 19, 2018.
2018 50/50 Applause Award
by Patricia L. Morin
ICWP 50/50 Applause Awards Program has initiated changes in the schedule of events this year, beginning with the press releases. Nominations will begin February 15 and last for one month, until March 15th. The reason for this is the ease of checking statistics and communication with theatres during the season we are accepting nominations. March 16th-April 15th, our volunteers will vet and recheck, and confirm all productions from nominated theatres. By the end of May, theatres will verify their info, check all information, and our team will have new press releases ready to roll, requested and collected photos for the video, set up the slideshow and chosen music, ironed out any difficulties, and prepare for the final announcement, articles, and templates for the theatres’ certificates (new this year).
Also new this year, Lauren Gunderson, announced as American Theatre’s most produced playwright in 2017, will be the spokeswoman for the ICWP 50/50 Applause Award, 2017-2018.We are honored that she is a member of the International Centre for Women Playwrights, promotes gender parity in her plays, and congratulates men and theatres that equally support productions by female and male Dramatists. As Co-Chair of the 50/50 Applause Award, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Gunderson.
Member Spotlight: Lauren Gunderson
Pat: Why did you become a playwright?
Lauren: I began as an actor thinking that I wanted to do acting, and looked at theatre from that perspective. But I realized pretty quickly that playwrights get to tell who the hero is, decide why they win or lose, what they’re fighting for—what’s worth telling. I could use that art form (theatre) as an activist, and it was immediate.
Pat: You learned about playwriting through acting.
Lauren: Yes, but I was writing plays when I was fifteen. I’ve been doing this for so many years, and part of the success I’ve had is because I’ve been at it for a really, really long time.
Pat: It is also an inspiration to actors. Some of them want to write plays, but don’t because they think they need an MFA.
Pat: What was your most rewarding experience as a playwright?
Lauren: It’s always getting the audience to react. In one of my plays, “I AND YOU”, there are several twists. And every time I sit in the back, I hear the audience gasp at the twists. It’s about getting those gasps. And that’s the best thing in the world.
Pat: What do you find the most challenging experience as a playwright?
Lauren: Trying to figure out if I’m the right person to tell this story. There are disappointments: Am I writing the same story over and over again? Then I’m trying to push myself, and think, what haven’t I thought of? It’s a hard thing: If you haven’t thought of it, how are you supposed to recognize what you haven’t thought of? What’s next and what can I expect, an existential problem for any artist.
Pat: You would like to write a story, but wonder if you’re the right person. Say you want to write a story about Ma and Pa Farmer struggling with the loss of their farm. Then you would think, maybe I can do that?
Lauren: Yeah, but why now? I ask myself. We spend a lot of time on that (question). However, if we didn’t have the answer to that in the beginning we probably wouldn’t have an answer by the end. Even now when we think about Feminism, I am a white women living in San Francisco, and I think what are my stories to tell and what aren’t? What stories am I taking from another writer if I try to use them? That’s a hard thing for any artist to say: I’m not the right person to make this art.
Pat: Of the plays you have written, which one is your favorite and why?
Lauren: Impossible to answer.
Pat: Which one resonates with you the most?
Lauren: Early one of mine called Exit Pursued by a Bear. It’s a Shakespearian tale that I turned into a fierce, Southern, contemporary comedy about domestic violence. None of those things seem to fit together. But that play was so liberating to write.
Pat: And symbolically, a bear, and exit, claws, tearing each other apart … could be gruesome.
Lauren: Yeah, but it was this crazy comedy. I think that was the most fun I had writing, the most challenging I had, and the darkest I been able to let my imagination go, and yet, the sword of that play is its comedy. I felt really inspired and excited and continued to go back what was it about that feeling, the theme, the structure, the heart that got me to write that play. That’s kind of me at my best.
Pat: How do your plays represent your values as a person?
Lauren: My plays never stray far from demanding the female perspective. There was one quote, and I don’t remember who quoted it: “When you look at the history of any country, always ask what the women were doing,” because often time no one does, and it continues to be the narrative of what great men are doing, and we know there is more to that story. Part of my soul’s work, the activism at the heart of me, there is power in the empathy that human beings naturally have when they are told a story from another’s perspective, not their own. And that is critical for women, especially now, and has always been. Not only is it important theatre, but makes for great theatre. That’s the selfish part of telling women stories, it’s harder for those characters which makes for better drama. Win win! Often I write about history, science, and women. Female characters have a lot more to prove, to risk, to lose. That's why they deserve their own plays and heroes.
Pat: So that is what is in most of your plays, the women perspective.
Lauren: The women perspective, there is always a transcendent ending. For me, the most false thing about theatre is that it ends. The story ends. Continuance is actual reality. But in theatre, we ask why did we watch this story, what is the point? So every one of my plays has transcendence. It could be very simple or very theatrical … so why not use the tools of theatre to make it that much more impossible, lifted, luminescent, instead of resort to naturalism—shutting the lights off and that’s all we see of those people—that’s the least naturalistic thing you can do. Having them turn into birds and just fly away makes just as much sense. I love using all the tools that theatre allows us, and that our imagination allows us. I love stories about discoveries and human achievement. What I want to do about women, the plays are not only about women, they are for all of us. Hamlet is not a guy’s play, it is a play for all of us.
Pat: How would you advise women playwrights to deal with gender equality in the theatre world today?
Lauren: Most audience, the “let's go and see a play audience” do not know the playwright, or the director, they see the actors in the play. They don’t care. They say, “Is this a story about a lot of dudes? Fine. Is this a play about a lot of women? Cool.” Just because you write a play as a woman, doesn’t mean you’ll be seen as a Feminist.
Pat: They are taking home one thing, and you think they are taking home another.
Lauren: Right. Writing for diversity, writing for parity is actually different. Most of my plays have more characters that are women, than men. We are the generative voices, and we are what the audience takes away. If you care about the activism of theatre, that is critical to remember.
Representative Play Titles
Susan Eve Haar, USA
Susan Eve Haar is a lawyer and playwright living in New York City. A member of The Actor’s Studio, Ensemble Studio Theater, The Writers Guild East and H.B. Playwright’s Unit, she explores, among other topics, the intersection of our neural and lived experiences. Her work has been produced at a variety of venues including Primary Stages, The Women’s Project, 13th Street Rep, HERE, Chester Theater, Manhattan Rep, and The Looking Glass Theater and published by Broadway Publishing and Smith and Krauss.
Domnica Radulescu, an American writer of Romanian origin
While I was a student at the University of Bucharest at the height of the communist dictatorship in Romania of the early eighties I joined a countercultural theater modeled after the Poor Theater of the Polish director Jerzy Grotowski, which was called The Attic, as it was situated literally in the attic of the headquarters of the Romanian communist youth. That theater, where I spent most of my waking hours after my university classes, sometimes late into the night rehearsing in a Shakespeare play, or where I played my first important and life changing part as Winnie in Beckett’s Happy Days literally saved my life. It saved my soul from the drudgery of the daily indoctrination of the dictatorship, from the oppressive grayness of our daily material and spiritual deprivations. It helped me create a space of hope and luminosity inside me that to this day is inexhaustible. I have never stopped engaging in theater since those days, be it as performer, director, teacher, scholar of theater and, most importantly for my own artistic growth and expression, as playwright. I have never ceased to find a place of solace, resistance, hope and luminosity in the practice and the study of theater, it’s passion, it’s incandescence and it’s uncompromising claiming of the here and now. Every day, the belief in the power of theater, the knowledge that it still exists and that places of live theater like my Attic theater in Romania, still offer refuge to so many from the drudgery of various forms of oppression and a chance of authentic emotion and experience , helps me survive and saves my life.
Hello! My name is Dale Griffiths Stamos and I have been a working playwright for a number of years in Los Angeles, California. I recently transplanted to beautiful Santa Barbara, California, where I get to write looking out at beautiful hills and Eucalyptus trees. My full-length play productions include: One White Crow at Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica, CA and Arena Repertory Players on Long Island, New York, and Dialectics of the Heart at Edgemar Center for the Arts. My play with music, Blue Jay Singing in the Dead of Night received a workshop production at Pacific Resident Theatre in Los Angeles. Two evenings of my one acts have been produced: Love Struck at the Beverly Hills Playhouse in Beverly Hills, CA, and Thicker Than Water at the Promenade Playhouse in Santa Monica, CA. My 10-minute play, The Unintended Video, for which I won the Heideman Award, was produced originally at Actors Theatre of Louisville, and then worldwide at countless venues since. Many of my other short plays have been produced throughout the country. I have been a two-time top 10 Winner in the Writer's Digest Stage Play Competition and I won the Jewel Box Theatre's Original Playwriting Competition. In the last few years I have expanded into writing and co-producing short films which have appeared at multiple film festivals and have won two Audience Awards.
Playwriting is a tough business, as we all know. But it is the work of both my heart and mind and I can't imagine ever giving it up. I am equally passionate about teaching and working with writers. I lead workshops at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference and at the San Miguel de Allende Writers Conference, and I teach writing classes at Santa Barbara City College. I am pleased to be a new member of ICWP.
Vicki Meagher, USA
If you have a play or a reading between March 1 – March 31, please email Amy (firstname.lastname@example.org) before February 15 and it will be featured in the NOW PLAYING column of the March newsletter. Any play or reading in April will appear in the COMING SOON column.
THIS FORTNIGHT IS FEMALE February 6-17, 2018
Three plays by and about women, acted by women. Developed and staged by off the WALL in Carnegie, PA, now premiering Feb. 2018 at Urban Stages 259 W 30th St. New York, NY. 10001. Link:http://www.insideoffthewall.com/this-fortnight-is-female-new-york-2018/. Mother Lode, by Virginia Wall Gruenert,Executive Artistic Director. off the WALL productions at Carnegie Stage will be running in rep with two other plays by, about, and acted by women. Also note that ICWP members can use the promotion code artists in order to take advantage of $15tickets(plus $2 processing fee).
Annual Meeting: February 21-28
All ICWP members are encouraged to join our online annual meeting, which begins February 19. Just go to the ICWP website and click on Annual Meeting. It will take you to the forums where you can weigh in on various issues in our great organization.
Letter from the Editor
Several members have responded my call for short testimonials about the impact that ICWP has had in their lives. That article will appear in the March newsletter. If you wish to be included, you can respond to this email with a short paragraph about the benefits of being an ICWP member.
Member Spotlight: Sharon Wallace, ICWP Secretary
Playwriting/Theater is important to me because of the influence it can have on a community. Plays written by African American women represent the trials and tribulations of these women which may be interpreted as motivating to triumph over impediments of gender and racial oppression. So questions of identity, self-love, sexual exploitation, and race have been at the center of plays by Black women playwrights. These plays by Black female playwrights have given a mighty voice to Black women characters who recognize and validate themselves. Theater provides Black women playwrights a platform to develop Black female characters that resemble actual African American women who are refining Black womanhood. By liberating African American characters from stereotypical images, Black female playwrights write plays that provide an authentic representation of African American culture. Black women dramatists incorporate the struggle for civil rights and gender equality into literary activism; their plays not only give power to African American women, but lay the foundation for enduring social and political change.
Sharon Wallace is a full-time instructor of English Composition at Wayne County Community College District and an adjunct professor at Lawrence Technological University. She earned an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts at Wayne County Community College District, a Bachelor of Arts in English from Marygrove College, a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies with a concentration in English from The University of Detroit Mercy, a Master of Fine Arts with a concentration in Playwriting from Goddard College and a Ph. D. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a designated emphasis in Humanities and Culture from Union Institute & University.
Her research interest include Black women dramatists and literary activist theory, critical social theory, cultural studies, as well as theater and literature studies.
Sharon Wallace’s current research investigates how plays written by African American women represent the trials and tribulations of these women which may be interpreted as motivating to triumph over impediments of gender and racial oppressions. In her own struggle for civil rights and gender equality through literary activism, she has learned how playwriting not only gives power to African American women, but lays the foundation for enduring social and political change.
Wallace is also a playwright and poet. She is a board member and board secretary for the International Centre for Women Playwrights. Her poetry and book reviews have appeared in numerous online journals including SNReview, Pitkin Review, Pitkin in Progress, Howling Wolf #11, Maxis Review, Peeling Vidalias 15 Women and one Man, and the Journal of Pan African Studies.
Sharon Wallace studied dramatic arts in New York City at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, HB Studio (Greenwich Village) and The National Black Theatre in Harlem, NY.
Emile Adams, USA
Mary Beth Smith, USA
Mary Beth Smith, Playwright and Lyricist, won the Peter Honegger Best One-Act Play award for Keep A-Breast, a play that offers insight into her bizarre experiences surviving breast cancer. Keep A-Breast was performed at The Firehouse Center for the Arts 2014 New Works Festival in Newburyport, MA.
Currently, she’s collaborating with Ethan Silver-Wheeler on a new musical called Home. Her other plays include: An Hour at Sea was commissioned and performed by The Cape Ann (“The Annie”) Theatre in Gloucester, MA
Don’t Make a Sound appeared in Marblehead Little Theatre’s TNT (Totally New Theater) 2017 New Play Festival, in Marblehead, MA. The song, “I Didn’t Think of You Much” from Home, was also performed.
Dick and Jane appeared in the TNT 2016 New Play Festival. The song, “I Didn’t Think of You Much” from Home, was also performed. Getting the Axe appeared in the TNT 2015 New Play Festival. The song, “You’re Home” from Home, was also performed.
Buddhists in the Basement appeared in Pigs Do Fly's Fifty Plus Production at the Empire Stage, Fort Lauderdale, FL; TNT 2013 New Play Festival; and the Warner International Playwrights Festival at the Warner Theatre in Torrington, CT
The Experiment was performed at the Fire Dog Theatre, Arlington, MA The Mouse was performed at the Fire Dog Theatre, Arlington, MA Weights and Measures was performed at the Universal Theatre, Provincetown, MA
Galileo’s Dowry was performed at the Universal Theatre, Provincetown, MA
Mirror Mirror Off the Wall was performed at the TNT 2013 New Play Festival and the Gloucester Writers Center new play series in Gloucester, MA
For the past 4 years, Mary Beth participated in Random Acts at the Firehouse Center for the Arts in Newburyport, Massachusetts. For 12 hours, she partnered with a complete stranger to write Pretty Things in 2013, Open Mike in 2014 and Osso Buco in 2016.
If you have a play or a reading between February 1 – February 28, please email Amy (email@example.com) before January 15 and it will be featured in the NOW PLAYING column of the February newsletter. Any play or reading in March will appear in the COMING SOON column.
The Melting Pot, a remix for the stage by Carol S. Lashof, will receive a staged reading in Oakland, California on January 20, 2018, by Those Women Productions, Oakland, CA.
Performances 4 pm and 8 pm at the Temescal Art Center, 511 48th St, Oakland. Tickets are free but advance reservations are strongly recommended as the venue is small: https://themeltingpot.brownpapertickets.com/
God Bless Phyllis Schlafly by Amy Drake, Jan. 26-28, 2018, Columbus (OH) Conservative Theater Festival, The Shedd Theater, Columbus, OH For more information visit http://conservativefestivaloh.com/
Revelation by Shirley Barrie, will be produced in Shifting Spaces, a program of 3 one-act plays by Those Women Productions at Live Oak Theatre, Berkeley CA from March 23 - April 8, 2018http://www.liveoaktheater.org/
Queen Marie by Shirley Barrie, directed by Rosemary Doyle, will be produced at the Alumnae Theatre in Toronto, April 13 - 28, 2018 as the finale of the theatre's 100th anniversary season. Visit www.alumnaetheatre.com for ticket information.
Articles of Interest
Curated by Mona Curtis
Review of 2017 by Victoria Sadler. The lot for female playwrights worsens
Women Playwrights Lead 2018 Humana Festival World Premieres
Five out of the six world-premiere plays selected are written or created by female theatre makers.
The image used in this newsletter is the work of kareni, Rüştü Bozkuşof Turkey and was downloaded from Pixabay on December 25, 2017.
Member Spotlight: Sandra Dempsey
by Thoko Zulu
Award winning internationally acclaimed playwright and performer, Sandra Dempsey is a Canadian playwright who has written full length dramas including "Flying to Glory" featuring boyhood pals enlisting in the Royal Canadian Air force and "Enigma" which examines sexuality, moral dilemmas and consequences associated with assisted suicide. "Barbie & Ken" is listed as one of her comedies, the synopsis being the world's cutest but anatomically incorrect couple who are proud parents.
Sandra has a keen sense of formidable wit writing complex narratives articulating richly drawn and emotional characters. This puts her at the top of her game and making her a popular reader for her book, "D' Arcy." Thomas D'Arcy McGee was an Irish patriot and Canadian statesman assassinated by Irish-American Finnians.
Dempsey's work also includes humanitarian and detective stories which not only maps intelligent story execution but also outstanding knowledge about wartime history, aviation and military expressions.
Her "Armagideon" has attracted very big reviews citing her work as 'provoking in the most powerful and positive sense' by John Murrell. Urjo Kareda lamented it is a very strong, striking piece which creates and sustains a world beyond experience with conviction and horror. Another follower of Sandra's work mentions the storyline, characterization and situation in "Armagideon" draws the audience into the play with a deliciousness which keeps one off balance. Sharon Pollock adds, "It is strange, violent and nutty...intriguing."
Proudly of Irish descent, Sandra Dempsey is an artist deserving a huge following by both seasoned and emerging playwrights who can benefit from the valuable industry advice given in this interview.
Q - What memories do you have of your childhood and how you became a writer?
A - I am proudly of Irish blood, youngest of twelve (3 sisters, 8 brothers), and even though that sounds like a pre-made gaggle o' companions, I spent most of my time very comfortably in my own world, and observing, always observing. I relished playing on my own in our huge double-lot backyard, driving my tricycle as a city bus, encountering scores of imaginary people on my routes. My oldest brother was twenty-seven years old when I was born, my Ma spent some nine years of her life in a state of pregnancy, and we had a vile alcoholic father from whom we all scattered like cockroaches upon approach. This latter element was likely the cause of the important imprinting of 'man's inhumanity to man' upon my psyche. As these factors all presented themselves, I early on determined that I would never marry, never have children, and I would continue to luxuriate in my independence for the rest of my life. I literally can still see my pre-school self, standing by the back stairs off the kitchen, by the tea towel rack, actually quietly vowing my future to myself. Writing and creating followed, though it really wasn't so much a conscious choice as predetermination, and I just knew I was meant for the theatre, acting and writing.
To keep things exciting, I have always had scatter-shot interests with the passion for self-sufficiency, so I take my own bio photos, maintain my own website, dabble in photography, will fly in any aircraft any time, positively love driving, and still try to ride horseback when I can. But always, always, I continue to observe and file away scenes and thoughts and snippets until they are ready to present themselves in my writing.
Q - You write drama, comedy and poetry. Most playwrights find it difficult if not impossible to effectively execute more than one genre. Where do you draw inspiration to do all three and which one is most difficult to write?
A - Perhaps the trick is not knowing what I'm doing. I do not profess to have a clue about any genre. Characters, dialogue, themes, and plots all just roll about in my head until they formulate themselves and are ready to come out. They are born of their own genetics, their own formatting, and I have little to do with it. However, I do believe that humor is to be found in most things, welcomed or otherwise, and it should be embraced, especially as it will always highlight the colors of the drama around it. Curiously, I have a piece entitled "Inhumanitarianism" which is a sort of hybrid between a short play and poetry - I see and hear it on the page, feel it in the flesh, and watch it unfold both ways. Whatever the work, it is always characters who present themselves in my head, and either I let them tell me what they have to say, or sometimes I will give them a story to tell. On some rare occasions, I will give them an event or an experience which actually happened to me and allow them to make the story their own, to tell in their own words. It's a secret pleasure knowing which of my pieces have been generated from my own life, and, because I am not the one directly speaking, they become solely those of my characters. No one genre is more difficult - again, if you don't know what you're doing, it can't be difficult - and again, the work just comes out in the form it is meant to be; I have little to do with it.
Q - Who is your target audience and which play has been your memorable showcase?
A - I really don't write for anyone specifically. The characters and content of my writing are just what they are, and whether or not an audience finds it all of interest or entertainment, well, I can't control that. I really don't/don't wish to pander to any group or cause. "Flying to Glory" and "Wings to Victory" inclusive of "D’Arcy" are all history-based dramas, but that is but one element of their being. It is the characters and their journeys that are the hearts of the pieces, and the historical circumstance is but a bonus - military/history audiences might appreciate the latter, but if the drama's heart does not beat, the audience might just as well read a textbook. And while "Armagideon" is a cautionary tale about the horrors of nuclear annihilation, it is 70-year-old women and their disturbing choices that catch up the real emotions, which in turn drives any messaging. All the universalities will always boil down to their effect, their effect on individuals, and that is in essence how I go about telling my stories. Of course, I am genetically wired to speak to/for/about women, but I think my male characters have truth to them, also.
I must confess I am just vain enough to think that my most rewarding showcases have been via readings of my own work. I positively love performing my stuff before an audience, feeling the exhilaration when they're teetering on the fence-top of 'what is this woman doing?' and then feeling the sheer joy of them falling into my arms when they instead are engaged and enveloped by entire characters brought to life before them. I especially love it as my work can shape itself, a bit cat-like, in and around, and moving an audience's emotional response from laughter to actual tears. And I did really enjoy presenting a reading of scenes from "Flying to Glory" to a visiting squadron of British Royal Air Force aircrews. Afterwards, all the handsome young flight-suited lads lined up like excited little boys, pulled out their Canadian money and bought signed copies to stash in their Tornado fighters to fly back to the UK.
Q - What kind of artistic challenges have you tackled as a female Canadian playwright and how did you resolve them?
A - At this point in my life, hell...probably at every point but I care not a flying fur-ball as to who thinks what of my work. I really don't. I walked out of a 4-year university acting programme because I thought the instructors/administrations were all a whack-a-doodle bunch of misogynist idiots (actually, most of the women in my year also walked, and have all been working since) I have such low opinions of most of the male species that they have become something of a non-factor. And when I do inevitably encounter them, be it a director or an actor or a playwright, my conviction is further strengthened and I just move on. From an actor grasping at snippets of action movies in his vacuous head as he tried in vain to get a handle on Nathan in "Armagideon," or the director who jumped right in with him in the sudden male bonding of two guys sharing movies' awesomeness, I simply haven't the time or life to begin to try to enlighten them, and I just move on. Ironically, it is often the women in the audience who can see past all these nonsensical misinterpretations and grasp the true impact of the scene or piece, and that in itself is very rewarding.
Q - What is the status of Canadian theatre and women support structure?
A - I'm not really qualified to answer this. As far as I'm concerned, theatre here, as it is most places, is and sadly probably always will be male, male, male - male A.D.s hiring male directors selecting male playwrights with predominately male casts. Organizations and even governments attempt to fulfill their token obligations at support and funding etc, but really, I think we're all on our own.
Q - What kind of social issues/stories are of interest to you and why?
A - Primarily 'man's inhumanity to man' is the catalyst for my writing. It seems there are no ends to the unbelievably horrifying things to which we humans continually subject one another. My duty as a playwright is not so much to proselytize about the generalities of a sweeping issue, but to bring it down to its impact upon the life of the individual.
Q - Do you think women have reached a level where they can hold their own against their male counterparts in story execution? If no, how can we be more competitive?
A - Of course they have and of course they can, and do. But it is and sadly probably always will be male, male, male - male A.D.s hiring male directors selecting male playwrights with predominately male casts.
Q - I see your work maps intelligent execution and knowledge about history, aviation and military idioms which is uncommon to most female playwrights. How did this knowledge come about?
A - This is organic in origin. With all those brothers, I've always been interested in non-traditional-girlie things. I grew up with baskets of hand-me-down Dinky Toy cars, and G.I. Joe's (not a Barbie in sight) - and I've always been vain enough to think there was little I couldn't do, if I just took the time to figure it out. And after some years and provinces apart, when I re-connected with my oldest brother, he had just earned his private pilot's license. I had been wanting to write about World War II, but hadn't decided on which service, and I thought, of course, if I explore flying, I'll have something to share with my brother. So I went for a ride in an old WWII warplane - and I was instantly hooked. And it wasn't just boring straight-and-level flying, but *aerobatics* in the 60+ year old bird. We did loops, rolls, cuban-8s, inverted - and because I did *not* throw up, the pilot let me 'take the stick' and it was pure ecstasy. I returned as often as I could afford the hefty cost, on various vintage aircraft, doing more tricks, pulling more Gs, and even landing and taking off myself. I have no capacity for science or mathematics, so while I do have good hands and good instincts for flying, I could never in a month of Sundays pass my pilot's license. Turns out another of my brothers is plane-crazy too, so that's another wonderful connection.
Q - Which work presented the most difficult technicalities to produce in terms of venue, props, costume, lighting, etc.?
A - My work is character-driven, so there aren't many challenges for these technicalities. Both "Flying to Glory" and "Wings to Victory" obviously involve World War II aircraft, however their representation may be anything from literal, as in actual vintage aircraft in a hangar staging, to stylize. But the biggest consideration, which I even mention in the notes of the published play, is that the sounds of the aircraft must be historically true, out of respect for the play and for the history of the subject - having a giant four-engine Halifax bomber emitting the sounds of a little modern-day Cessna doesn't cut it. Jessie in "Enigma" is ill with severe rheumatoid arthritis - the actual hospital room setting can be literal or interpretive, but the actor's realistic portrayal of the specific aspects of her debilitating disease is imperative to the character and the story. Technically, I have a bit of an affinity for monologues, and using parallel - and in pieces such as "Casualties" or Shirley's monologue in "Flying to Glory." As she speaks, I can actually hear the snapping of the white sheets in the wind on the clothes-line and smell the faint scent of bleach. This could be the result of far too much time left to my own devices, but it's how my brain functions and how I present my craft.
Q - Would you change your profession if you were given an opportunity to choose another career?
A - No. Though I would love to do more writing and more voice work. But I would change my health if I could. I have had severe lung and bone disease (and on continuous oxygen) for most of my life, and had a bout with the big C. I thank god for my Canada's incredible healthcare not burdening me with impossible debts, but still the constant state of ill-health has made it extremely difficult to create to my potential or to earn any sort of decent living from writing or even supplemental jobs. In 2018 I will meet the lung transplant team. No lamentations; it's just a fact of life, but one I wish I never had to negotiate. But if I were physically able, I'm just vain enough to think I could do just about anything, if I wanted to do it.
Q - Please give advice to emerging writers dealing with industry related rejection or failure or delayed profits.
A - Above all, I would trust your own instincts. Rightly or wrongly, at least at the end of the day you will have followed your own heart, and that is reward itself. There are a very, very few people whose opinions I trust and respect or whose counsel I will seek when it comes to my writing - barely a handful, all others are but noise I choose to block. 'Arseholes do vex me' is a bit of a mantra, especially in response to rejections. And if there is any criticism attached, I will read it, assess it, and, if I deem it worthless, I will dismiss it and move on. I would advise others to do the same, especially women writers in receipt of 'advice' from males.
I have encountered many artists, writers and even a musician, who are utterly devoid of soul in their work. That is not a condition to which I will ever aspire, into which hopefully I will ever allow myself to fall. I may make the wrong choices, but so long as I have the passion of my convictions and follow the dictates of my heart, my soul will be strong and pulsing with life. Write about what catches your conscience, write it completely, and write again.
Q - Which play best describes how you want to go down in history?
A - I'm at a loss on this one. I'd probably assign that writing task to 'Cubby Caley' the cat, who has a better credit rating than I, and probably more creative artistry in his left paw than I...
ICWP awards a 6-month organizational membership to recipients of the 50/50 Applause Award.
Storycraft Studio, USA
Dreamcatcher Repertory Theater, USA
Plan-B Theatre Company, USA
Ruth Zamoyta, USA
Ruth Zamoyta is an emerging playwright. She has an academic background in English literature, including dramatic works, and she has published several poems, poetry anthologies, and a novel. Her day job is Development & Communications Director for New Jersey Theatre Alliance, the service organization for the state’s 31 Equity producing theatres. Before joining the Alliance in 2014, Ms. Zamoyta worked in communications and project management in the executive offices at Columbia University, and as an independent strategy consultant.
Ms. Zamoyta’s publications include the online novel firstname.lastname@example.org, published in 2001 by classic novels.com; ‘Otsu’ and Other Poems, self-published in 2006; Eating Her Wedding Dress: An Anthology of Clothing Poems, which she co-edited and was published by Ragged Sky in 2009; and Blanket Stories, a poetry anthology published by Ragged Sky in 2014, which she co-edited and which is based on a multi-disciplinary work of collaborative art orchestrated by Richard Jochum. Her poems were published in the aforementioned anthologies, as well as in Dark as a Hazel Eye: Coffee & Chocolate Poems, Ragged Sky 2016; and American Narrative Poetry, Fall 2015. She has also written articles for Howlround, a knowledge commons for the theatre industry; and over 25 cover and feature stories for architectural trade magazines;
Ms. Zamoyta holds an MS in strategic communications from Columbia University, an MA in English from New York University, and a BA summa cum laude from St. John’s University. She is a trustee of Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit, NJ, and was recipient of the 2010 Cynthia Carter Memorial Cup, granted by US Fencing to the top-ranked female épéeist over 40. She considers herself equally from New York City and the Adirondack Park, and currently resides with a teenager, a cat, and a few struggling houseplants in northern New Jersey.
Representative Play Titles: The Caregivers; The Fencers; The Lovers; The Friends
Ashley Lara, UK
Ashley Lara’s plays include Economy Class (10x10 Festival Play Festival at Old Joint Stock Theatre in Birmingham, UK), Author (Playwrights’ Workshop at George Cadbury Theatre in Birmingham, UK), and The Cruller Twist (High Stakes Theater Short Play Festival at The Kraine Theatre in New York City). Awards include Poetry Slam Winner at 2012 Birmingham UK Book Festival, and Best Short Play for The Cruller Twist at High Stakes Theater Short Play Festival. Other works have been presented Naked Angels’ Tuesdays at 9, Upright Citizen’s Brigade (NYC), and The Barrow Group’s First Fridays. She is currently a featured artist for High Stakes Theater Company. She has also been featured in The New York Times and TimeOut NY for her work with She Makes Me Laugh, a monthly all-female comedy showcase at the People’s Improv Theatre (PIT). Ashley Lara holds a Master of Research in Playwriting Studies from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.
Grace Epstein, USA
As a Associate Professor at the University of Cincinnati, I teach drama, literature, and film. I have published scholarly articles, poems, fiction and plays in a variety of journals, online and off. Several of my plays have been staged around the country in college and professional venues.
Ren Katherine Powell, Norway
Poet, playwright, translator and theater teaching artist.
American-born, settled in/nationalised citizen of Norway.
Angela J. Davis, USA
Angela J. Davis is the author of The Spanish Prayer Book, a Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center - National Playwrights Conference semi-finalist, PlayPenn top-12 finalist, Julie Harris top-5 finalist, HRC Showcase finalist, FutureFest top-6 finalist, and SETC new-play award first alternate winner, among other honors. Angela's play, The Czar's Daughters, was a 2017 Pittsburgh New Works Festival finalist (scoring 98 and 94 from the evaluating judges) and is slated, along with another of Angela's plays, Charlotte, for the 365 Women a Year playwriting project. Recent work has been presented, or is forthcoming, at the Hollywood Court Theatre, The Dayton Playhouse, The Road Theatre Company - SPF8, the Pittsburgh Original Works series, and The Blank Theatre Living Room Series. Her writing has appeared in numerous national publications, including a University of Iowa Press anthology, and she has received a Pushcart Prize nomination. Angela studied comparative literature at Stanford and lives and writes in Los Angeles, where she is also a practicing attorney, an adjunct professor at Southwestern Law School (formerly at USC Law School), and the creator of an award-winning multi-media program on elimination of bias in courtroom environments.
Eva Moon, USA
Eva Moon has been writing and performing her original music and theatrical works around the Pacific Northwest since 2002. Her original musical shows include 7 Deadly Sins and Me which had a nine-month run in Seattle, My Perfect Life and Other Delusions, The Deal With It Cabaret and The Mutant Diaries: Unzipping My Genes, which has been produced multiple times across the US and UK and has a filmed version out on DVD and Amazon Streaming Video.
First You Jump, a surreal and darkly comic musical play in which five very different characters face extraordinary choices that will change their lives irrevocably, has had partial productions in London, Chicago and Louisville, and mounted its first full staging in January, 2015.
Her latest play is The Home for Dead Fairytale Mothers. Everyone knows about the wicked stepmothers, but this one-act introduces audiences to the original First Wives Club.
Eva is also an optioned screenwriter and a regular contributor to Huffington Post.
First You Jump, The Home for Dead Fairytale Mothers
Sithokozile Zulu, Zimbabwe
My purposes manifest as a self-invented, inspired artist whose products have earned recognition both locally and internationally. Art flows naturally in my veins and I have a dream that sees me contributing significantly towards the growth and development of my country and the region at large. My ultimate goal is growth as an artist through international collaborations and further training refining my creative production techniques to open more opportunities for professional growth.
If you have a play or a reading between January 1 – January 31, please email Amy (email@example.com) before December 15 and it will be featured in the NOW PLAYING column of the January newsletter. Any play or reading in February will appear in the COMING SOON column.
God Bless Phyllis Schlafly by Amy Drake, Jan. 26-28, 2018, Columbus (OH) Conservative Theater Festival, The Shedd Theater, Columbus, OH For more information visit http://conservativefestivaloh.com/
Queen Marie by Shirley Barrie, directed by Rosemary Doyle, will be produced at the Alumnae Theatre in Toronto, April 13 - 28, 2018 as the finale of the theatre's 100th anniversary season. Visit www.alumnaetheatre.com for ticket information.
Revelation by Shirley Barrie, will be produced in Shifting Spaces, a program of 3 one-act plays by Those Women Productions at Live Oak Theatre, Berkeley CA from March 23 - April 8, 2018 http://www.liveoaktheater.org/
I have thoroughly enjoyed doing the newsletter for the past five years or more. However I am starting an online graphic design company and there is a very steep learning curve so I have to cut back in other areas. Each section of the newsletter is spearheaded by a Board Member. The responsibility of the new Newsletter Editor is to format all the information and images into a template on the administrative side of the ICWP website, a valuable and transferable skill. In fact, many of my skills in graphic design I have learned by doing the newsletter and other volunteer work for ICWP. (Click on the link at the very bottom of this page.) If you like design and technology, this is an exciting opportunity. I will stay on board to mentor the next editor.
The image used in this newsletter is the work of Engin Akyurt taken in Siem Reap, a province in northwestern Cambodia and downloaded from Pixabay on December 1, 2017.
September 2017 Newsletter
Member Spotlight: Kari Ann Owen
“I am sixty eight years old now, writing as I did when I was twelve at a time of approaching nuclear war. The call to courage is, must be, just as strong for creative artists as it was then: the informed conscience and the empathetic soul may be the only thing holding back the might of the generals and their “leaders”.
Kari Ann Owen
Acting and singing at an early age combined with writing to make me a dedicated playwright at a young age. My first play concerned religious rebellion by a young girl in medieval times.
While an undergraduate at New York University, I began writing a play about domestic terrorism in an effort to understand our government’s lunacy in Vietnam and the concurrent lunacy of “home grown” terrorists bombing our school and also blowing themselves up while preparing to bomb a nearby military base. The name of the play is “Circle of Silence”, and portrayed the consequences of parental rejection and emotional isolation on one young girl.
Thirty years later, autobiographies began to appear, and it turned out I had perhaps been prescient: the sixties terrorists had survived a parent’s suicide attempt, among other horrors. This particular future domestic terrorist had discovered her mother’s head in the oven at age nine. Early unresolved grief ran like a wide thread through the lives of several of the bombers, as well as emotional explosiveness, sexual sadism (men and women) and a deep urge to be violent.
I felt their frustration with our murderous government, participated in demonstrations, and had a deep personal identification with the Vietnamese (especially the children) under our B-52 bombers: the private school my sister and I attended had been directly under a double commercial plane collision in December 1960.
War, therefore, has always been a very personal matter to me.
I kept writing, completed my Bachelor of Arts at New York University and also won the Academy of American Poets Prize, given by my university department.
The wonderful master’s creative writing program at San Francisco State University helped me develop a wide canvas of concern which (I hope) was accompanied by fluid yet disciplined technique. I spent months writing a sequence of poems about the decline and fall of Rome with very recognizable contemporary allusions.
I have been able to produce my plays in San Francisco and Berkeley, and my play about Vietnam and the CIA won an award from the American Theatre Association. Fortunately, I have been able to combine serious modern dance studies with playwriting. “Terms of Surrender” concerns a gay male couple, a choreographer in New York and his lover in the early stages of AIDS in California. The dance segments occur in a hospice room and on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
I thank God that I have been able to grow in empathy toward other persons’ experience of violence and prejudice and write plays that demonstrate human dignity and not stereotypes. My plays comprise the quest for sobriety in prison; children and older teens and young adults surviving abuse of many kinds, realistically illustrated along with their parents’ collapses and coldness. I have written monologues for judges and correctional officers and prostitutes, and for a national security aide to Henry Kissinger, and for Nixon and Kissinger and Salvador Allende.
And after I suffered loss of mobility due to crippling sciatica, I wrote comedies about living with a service dog among ignorant people who knew nothing about such assistance. I even wrote about a cat who became a psychiatrist (“I just tucked my tail and dressed for success!). The comedies won awards at Dominican University, San Rafael, California. And my work has been performed at the George R. Moscone Center and the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
When I began my quest for artistic and moral and emotional clarity through writing, I had no idea that many men in the arts did not believe women belonged with them in their theatres, universities, poetry readings etc. My plays have never been produced on or off Broadway or at the famous regional theatres in Minnesota, Kentucky and southern California.
I blamed myself: my work just wasn’t clear enough or good enough.
Then the Princeton Study came out, and hard statistics concerning under-representation made clear that invisible wall of prejudice against women, and male anxiety toward women.
I stopped blaming myself, but felt a terrible grief that these American academic and artistic establishments prefer women to be sexually and intellectually degraded, monsters best kept at a distance.
Their concern and respect for me kept me alive until medications for depression were discovered.
I am sixty eight years old now, writing as I did when I was twelve at a time of approaching nuclear war. The call to courage is, must be, just as strong for creative artists as it was then: the informed conscience and the empathetic soul may be the only thing holding back the might of the generals and their “leaders”.
I have written a position paper on impeachment, supporting the psychiatric observations of the Yale College of Medicine concerning Mr. Trump.
The memory of my beloved husband and many friends supports me.
Now is not the time to give up. There may be no other time to be a creative artist, an interpreter of living souls, if Donald Trump suspends the Constitution and declares martial law.
Welcome New Member
Playwright, actress, lyricist Eloise Coopersmith has been performing and presenting her creative talents for the last 50 years.
Home for Mom, Finding Center, The Pass. Re-sil-ence
Now Playing and Coming Soon
Finishing School by Elaine Liner from Dallas, TX, opens Sept 8 (through 17) at the Bristol Opera House in Bristol, Indiana, in a production by the Elkhart Civic Theatre.
Guerrilla Girl Aphra Behn aka Donna Kaz in “Act Like a Feminist Artist - a Guerrilla Girl Unmasks” at the Decatur Book Festival in Georgia on September 3rd at 2:30PM - www.decaturbookfestival.com/sessions/view/591dd8d323c1d53b573e205a
at the Baltimore Book Festival on September 24. www.baltimorebookfestival.com/participants/author/4409/Donna-Kaz
“Performing Tribute 9/11: Ordinary People, Remarkable Stories” by Donna Kaz will be presented by The Common Ground Community and The Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City on September 14 at 7PM - 7 West 55th Street, NY, NY.
Coming to America, written by Stephanie Satie and directed by Anita Khanzadian, October 22, 2 p.m. at the United Solo Festival on Theatre Row
Board Member and Newsletter Team Member Lillian S. Cauldwell has made an audio version of the newsletter available through Passionate World Radio. Click on the icon below to listen.
My drama EVERYDAY EDNA MAE received three nominations from the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity following production this summer, including a nomination for Outstanding Playwriting for a New Script. My dark comedy LISTEN! THE RIVER received four nominations for acting and one for sound design.
I was selected to be a panelist for the Broadway Bound Theatre Festival in New York City in August.
Top Ten Ways to Get Your Play Produced in New York
by Debbie L. Miller
Are you at a creative impasse? Burned out? Tired of sending out submission after submission, only to receive nothing but rejections? Well, don't give up! That big production deal is just around the corner. If you follow these handy tips on how to get your play produced in the Big Apple, you'll be raking in the money in no time.
1. To fund your play, rob a bank, marry Donald Trump, or bump off a rich relative. Or, come up with a novel fundraising idea. Forget bake sales and car washes. Think outside the box: host a Tupperware party in trendy Tribeca; parade around Midtown wearing a sandwich board, dressed as a duck; actually talk to people on the subway. Let desperation be your guide, and don't be afraid to make a spectacle of yourself. It’s New York, after all. Nobody will bat an eyelash. They don't call it "Show Biz" for nothing!
2. Originality is way over-rated. Forget about having your own voice. This is an erroneous belief started by a writer who read too many "how to" playwriting books and attended too many workshops. The key word here is "derivative." Copy characters, "borrow" ideas. You aren't stealing--you're paying homage to other writers.
3. Make it a love story. You'll have a hit every time. Punch it up -- have the main character fall in love with a sheep, or better still, a unicorn. Audiences love to watch romance unfurl. But, whatever you do, do not have the characters talk about anything serious! Frivolity must prevail. Create characters who muse about the weather, sing the praises of their dry cleaners, or long for the right haircut. The last thing you want to do is depress your audience by asking them to think about reality.
4. Give your play a sexual theme. Sex sells, remember? So, sex it up! Elaborately staged orgy-istic scenes, costumes out of Frederick's of Hollywood. No holds barred! If you worry about offending, you'll lose precious butts in the seats! And, is that not the name of the game? This is a marvelous way to boost ticket prices and help your bottom line. Why charge just $95 a seat when you can rake in $250?
5. Cast big names. Think "Dancing with the Stars” and celebrity chefs. And, don’t forget washed-up former child stars -- anything that makes an audience say, "Gee whiz, I thought he was dead!"
6. Remember the three S's. Fill your script with Sex, Sin, and Special Effects. Add lots of flying actors in tights and an erupting volcano or two. Spray-paint the audience with RustOleum. After all, words just get in the way.
8. Is your muse out to lunch? Keep writing. Haven’t had a creative thought in a decade? Write anyway. Nobody's listening to the words. The writing is just one cog in the theatrical wheel. Don't take yourself so seriously, for God's sake!
9. A word about success, that elusive butterfly. Elusive yes, but there are more important things, are there not? Moments nobody can take away from you. The expression on the face of your lead actress when she flubs her lines. The actor who misses his cue and enters a page later. The director who insists your play would be better if you closed Act One with your romantic leads doing it “doggie style" on a table. These are the moments that every playwright lives for. Forget about money and fame--these are our real bread and butter. This is why we dream of leaving our day jobs. And, why we’ll do anything to get our plays put up.
10. If all else fails, you can always take hormones to lower your voice, sprout body hair, and grow a penis, thereby dramatically increasing your chances of getting the attention of producers, backers, and agents. Come to think of it, pretty much everything else falls into place if you follow this rule.
So, there you have it. Follow these tips and soon Broadway producers will be knocking down your door.
Thank you for your contributions. We are trying to make the newsletter more inclusive of our members and to include news and writings from them.
I have been ICWP Newsletter Editor for more than five years and love the opportunity to contribute to this great organization and to learn new skills. However I have a lot of new obligations this school year and I am trying to start my own online business. With these extra responsibilities, I will not be able to continue doing the newsletter after the first of the year. I will be happy to teach and mentor whoever volunteers for this job. You will have the opportunity to promote one of the best online communities on the web and become close friends with playwrights around the world.
The image used in this newsletter are the work of KreativeHexenkueche. It was downloaded from Pixabay. Agust 26, 2017. It is available under a CCO Creative Commons License.
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