Member Spotlight: Virginia Wall Gruenert
by Eliza Wyatt
Introducing Virginia Wall Gruenert, Executive Artistic Director of
off the WALL Productions
Carnegie, Pensylvania, USA
If therewas an Olympic medal for services to women in theatre, Virginia Wall Gruenert would be standing the highest on the podium wearing the gold.
ICWP recognizes this and has awarded off the WALL Productions their Applause Award three years running. Virginia herself is a three dimensional theatre person. Besides founding and running such a successful theatre, she is an actress and playwright.
I’d advise members to watch the vimeo clip to be seen on off the WALL’s web site, which Virginia told me has recently been uploaded to celebrate her theater’s ten year anniversary. The clip offers a tantalizing glimpse of past productions, the quality of which surprised this jaded theater-goer and makes me determined to put off the WALL on my theater going calendar and this is before I learned the staff, the crew, the design team, playwrights and directors were all women.
When I spoke to Virginia on the phone, (landlines are still useful), I heard in her voice the gravitas behind her achievements, although she was quick to credit wonderful teachers. She graduated cum laude from Syracuse University and did not stop there. She studied at the National Theatre in London, The Bristol Old Vic and with Stella Adler in L.A.
When I asked her about that experience Virginia told me Stella Adler did not suffer fools gladly but that kind of experience must have stiffened the spine of a young twenty-three year old actress trying to perfect The Method.
Asked whether she preferred acting to writing, she thought about it for a minute before replying ‘whichever one I’m doing at the time’, a sure fire mark of sanity and indicative of her immersive commitment. Shaken and Stirred was her first play, where she played all the parts herself before delegating it to four actors. Conversely, her latest play, Mother Lode, which was a commissioned by a friend, began as a play and became a one-woman show. This play, Mother Lode, is scheduled for a New York City premiere this fall.
Virginia’s philosophy of theater management in her own words is, bring ‘em in, shake ‘em up, and send ‘em home. Yes please, I’ll be waiting in line to buy a ticket.
Welcome New Members
Sharon Rose, USA
Dramatists Guild of America
International Center for Women Playwrights
Pen Center USA
Patricia Bell-Scott, USA
Patricia Bell-Scott is professor emerita of women’s studies and human development and family science at the University of Georgia, and author of the award-winning biography, The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice. Her book tells the story of how a brilliant writer-turned-activist and the First Lady of the United States forged a friendship that changed their lives, enriched the conversation about race, and fueled the movement for human rights in America. The Firebrand and the First Lady won the Lillian Smith Book Award and was named Booklist Best Book of the Year. It was also a finalist for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, as well as a nominee for the National Book Award and the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award. She is working on adaptation of her biography for the stage.
For more information, visit email@example.com
Claire Cooney, USA
Elaine Liner, USA
Elaine Liner is a playwright in Dallas, Texas, who "emerged" after a long career in arts journalism. She made her debut as a solo performer and playwright at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and has toured with her one-woman show, Sweater Curse. Her two-act comedy Finishing School is a winner in the 2017-18 American Association of Community Theatre's New Play Fest and will premiere in September 2017 in Elkhart, Indiana. She's also written a novel, 2084: An American Parable (available on Amazon in ebook or paperback worldwide), and she's a member of the Dramatists Guild.
To earn a living, Elaine drives tours around the JFK assassination sites in downtown Dallas and sells her knitted creations online. Her next play is an adaptation of Romeo & Juliet in which an older couple falls in love at first sight -- only to have their adult children try to keep them apart.
Representative Play Titles
Sweater Curse: A Yarn about Love; Finishing School; A Ripping Christmas Carol; The Crickets' Lunch; Replaceable Blond; Cappy & Monty-A Love Story
Qurell-Amani Wright, USA
Qurell-Amani is a graduate of the Florida Statue University School of Motion Picture, Television and Recording Arts. After graduation she relocated to Beaufort, South Carolina where she was employed as an on-air personality and commercial voice-over artist at WVGB radio. Since then, she has traveled the country with Theatre IV of Cincinnati, Ohio as well as performed in several commercials including Sonic Restaurants, and the military’s Space A travel program. Her motion picture projects include several independent films and "Ghostown", produced by DreamWorks.
Qurell is currently a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild and is producing and performing her labor of love, Panther Woman, a one-woman show highlighting the female experience in the Original Black Panther Party for Self Defense. “It is my mission to use the talents afforded me by The Universe and my Ancestors to provide quality theatre featuring strong, powerful women of color. Visit the website at www.pantherwomantheplay.com
Now Playing and Coming Soon
If you have a play or a reading between September 1 – September 30, please email Amy (firstname.lastname@example.org) before August 15 and it will be featured in the NOW PLAYING column of the September newsletter. Any play or reading in October will appear in the COMING SOON column.
Women without Walls by Robin Rice, Small but Mighty Productions, August 2-6, Toronto, CANADA
F4 by Elin Hampton has been selected as a finalist in the Samuel French 42nd OOB Short Play Festival. It will be performed on August 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the East 13th Street Theater, New York, New York, USA
Shaking the Dew from the Lilies by Paddy Gillard-Bentley will be playing August 16-16 at K-W Little Theatre, Ontario, CANADA
Elaine Liner’s two-act comedy Finishing School is a winner in the 2017-18 American Association of Community Theatre's New Play Fest and will premiere in September 2017 in Elkhart, Indiana.
Board Member and Newsletter Team Member Lillian Cauldwell has made an audio version of the newsletter available through Passionate World Radio. Click on the icon below to listen.