Mahindokht Mohasseb was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1947. She holds an LL.B and an LL.M degree in Law. She is an attorney-at-law and has authored several books in her field (Genocide, Access to Justice, Human Rights and Women). Mahin has always been interested in theater and has published twelve plays focusing on women’s rights and issues.
As an Iranian playwright I joined ICWP in 2016. My favorite western playwright is Bertolt Brecht, and my favorite Iranian playwrights are Bahram Beyzaie and Gholam-Hossein Sa'adi. I concentrate on women’s issues and all my plays are about these issues. I am a lawyer and hold an LL.M degree in law. Nowadays because of the global media everyone knows more or less about the women’s condition in the Middle East.
In most countries in this area the rules and laws treat women as the inferior gender and deprive them partly or completely from a great part of human rights; access to education, jobs, as well as cultural and social positions. Marriage in childhood, no right or restricted right to divorce and custody of children are also some of the women’s difficulties.
On the other hand during the past forty years in different countries of the Middle East war has brought these women rape, loss of family, and homelessness with the young children. Despite these hardships, they are on their own and can manage their lives without any support from the society or others. They struggle with obstacles, and try hard to find a way for progress. Some of them are even in high positions in the society for example, university professors, physicians, authors and senior managers.
Now I am happy to have this opportunity to send my voice through ICWP to women playwrights across the world and propose to them to write a short play about the difficulties and the abilities of the women in the Middle East as expressing solidarity with them. I hope my voice is heard and a collection of these plays will be published or be online.
As an old time member of the ICWP I get excited when a new member joins from half way across the globe. Mahin Mohasseb lives in Teheran, Iran and I’m honoured to write a Spotlight for her. She’s not only an important lawyer, but a prolific playwright. I have read the synopses of twelve of her plays and she has ideas for many more. Although the plays have not yet been produced, they have been published and are on sale in bookshops in Teheran and can be read in libraries in Teheran. Mahin confided to me that she never wanted to be famous but now she would like her work to be produced and translated if possible.
She began writing as a result of her legal work. She wrote books about human rights but felt that people did not take them seriously. I’m sure she shares with all writers the frustrations of trying to appeal to people who live stressful lives and seem to have little time or patience for the weightier issues. Mahin Mohasseb then turned to writing her legal cases out as plays. She’s naturally interested in dialogue and argument but it is obvious that her plays go beyond mere legal cases.
Her favourite play is Mirage, set in an eternal present in a woodland setting. A young female student meets a Spiritual Master and learns that he is not in love with earthly things but with a heavenly Beloved. This love of the Supreme Being, however, is a special kind of love and the Spiritual Master is lacking the other, physical, kind and he tells her that he needs this physical release to calm himself. Although I have not read the play, since it is not yet translated, their encounter sounds like the beginning of a tragedy as the young student has to defend herself when attacked.
Reading the blurbs of all twelve plays, I was particularly taken with Wedding Dress, about a father who uses his absolute authority over his daughter, and The Empty Seats about two prostitutes who are defending themselves in court. Both these plays are in the collection Cherry Earring, and I look forward to them being translated.
I have been fortunate enough to attend performances of Iranian theatre when I was married to my Iranian husband. The first time, forty years ago, I saw a traditional comedy starring a Falstaffian character. In 2004 I saw a play set in Iran in 1950 which was a family drama detailing the change in Iranian culture and social life. I believe the play was set in Abadan, the oil producing area in Iran. A country’s theatre has, necessarily, to reflect what is happening in that country and the quality of theatre, as we know in England, varies greatly even in a couple of decades. Plays and playgoers undergo a great deal of change throughout the centuries. The theatre changed drastically during Shakespeare’s time, until you could almost believe his plays were out-of-date. As a thinking philosopher and writer, Shakespeare will never go out of date. The work of the best playwrights are always more than the sum of their country’s experience. I’m sure this will be the case with Mahin and that her work will last as long as the best.
Mary Bonnett, USA
Mary Bonnett (Producing Artistic Director) created and cofounded Her Story Theater. Creator and director of Gloss Over, The Sex Trafficking Cycle: Shadow Town, The Johns, Money Make’m Smile, Mongers, and Cide Show. She has won numerous awards for excellence and outstanding contributions in professional theater, writing, directing, and theater education. Her plays and directing have been seen in Chicago theaters, universities and venues. She speaks regularly to various organizations across Illinois on sex trafficking and the impact the current culture has on our youth. Mary has appeared on television and radio shows, championing the need for change in laws to protect our children and women.
Under Mary's leadership, Her Story Theater has raised thousands of dollars for its partner organizations. Recently, Mary developed The Short Series: an evening of play performance and workshop. The first presentation was Court Side in partnership with Federal Judge Virginia Kendall. The play and workshop focused on the trauma based behavior and journey of the sex trafficked victim. Two more customized works are in the making for medical and law enforcement.
Beyond Chicago campaign, created by Mary, was designed to invite a participating theater and anti-trafficking organization to produce one or all of the Sex Trafficking Cycle plays to raise awareness in their community. The first to step forward on this new endeavor was Houston, Texas. The Johns will be presented at Mildred’s Umbrella Theater and partner with 3 Houston anti trafficking organizations in time for Super Bowl 2017.
Money Make’m Smile is part of a partnership with the Chicago Teachers Union in developing sex trafficking curriculum and workshop for educators which Mary leads. She is an active member in the anti-trafficking community serving on various panels and advocating city wide for change. Mary and Her Story Theater were honored with the Illinois State Senate Award for Outstanding Work In Raising Awareness on the Issue of Sex Trafficking.
She has written the novel, Alabastard of The Mound...literary fiction set in 1930 Mississippi and completed her children's novel The Adventures of Cleaver and Whizjam. Mary is a member of SAG-AFTRA, SCBWI, CWIP, American Dramatist Guild NYC. Her Story Theater is a proud member of The Chicago League of Theaters.
Mary holds a BFA in Theater Arts, BFA in English Literature, MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, England.
BACKSTAGE.COM voted Mary’s theater as the Top Ten Best International Theaters that Change Lives”. Her play SHADOW TOWN was voted “One of the Top Ten Best Plays Of The Year” by Chicago Theater Beat.
Katie Walenta, USA
Katie Walenta fell in love with words almost as soon as she could speak them. The way they weave together, tell stories, and reveal the intimate details about ourselves has always been fascinating. Something about the dramatic structure, what is seen and unseen, called to her. She now attends New York University - Tisch School of the Arts where she studies Dramatic Writing.
Marlene Burrell, USA
My name is Marlene Burrell. I am a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I am a playwright currently living in Charlotte.
If you have a play or a reading between March 1 – March 31, please email Amy (email@example.com) before Feburary 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.
And So ... by Patricia L. Morin will be a part of Flush Ink Production's SHE SPEAKS-WOMEN'S WORKS, WOMEN'S WORDS festival March 3rd and 4th in Waterloo, Ontario, CANADA.
The Lost Goddess by Katherine Koller is part of The Mommy Monologues, produced by SkirtsAfire Her Arts Festival in Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA, from 2-12 March, 2017.
A staged reading of Riverkeeper by Katherine Koller is presented by Alumnae Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, CANADA, as part of the New Ideas Festival on March 11, 2017.
Ludmilla Bollow’s full-length comedy, “In the Restroom at Rosenblooms” March 3-5 - Shelby Community Theatre - Shelby KY, USA
Arab Stages is an online journal broadening international awareness of performance cultures in the Arab-Islamic world.
The Arab Puppet Theatre Foundation teaches puppetry and encourages new development in this traditional art form.
The Middle Eastern Theatre Academy trains talented young performers from across the middle east.
Noor Theatre in NYC is dedicated to developing producing the work of theatre artists of Middle Eastern descent.
A Letter from the Editor,
It has been my privilege to be your newsletter editor for the past four years. There are a few small changes for 2017. First of all, the newsletter is in a new place on the website. It is in the News section and is available to the public, not just ICWP members. For 2017, I want Internationalism to be the newsletter theme. I plan to highlight a different country or region each month, starting with my own experience in China. I encourage you to nominate playwrights for the spotlight, especially those from developing countries. Also new for 2017, we will have a Meet the Board column, starting next month with our president, Sophia Romma. The February issue will give some important information about the 50/50 Applause Award.
Mona is a self-taught artist and playwright. She is also an ESOL teacher living and working in Xinzheng, Henan Province, People’s Republic of China.
I have lived in very remote areas, first in New Plymouth, Idaho and now in Henan Province in The People’s Republic of China. And it’s hard to say which is more remote. ICWP and its listsev has been my lifeblood artistically. I had my first production this summer at age 58 thanks to submission opportunities that arrive in my mailbox and insights from other playwrights.
I came late into playwriting. I wrote my first play when I was 40 and had my first production at 58. And I am completely self-taught, something that is both good and bad. The good thing about it is that I’m free to have very original ideas about theater so much so that some of the things I write are completely unproduciable.
But only now, after my first production, do I really think of myself as a playwright. It’s a new and somewhat frightening avenue that has opened up in my life.
As newsletter editor, I want the 2017 newsletter theme to be Internationalism so I will tell you a little about my life in China as an English teacher. Although I live in China, I don’t speak Chinese so I’m really in no position to talk about theater in China. However I do teach at a university and know a lot of bilingual Chinese teachers and students. Last week I asked my students if they had ever been to a play and only one of 270 students had. I have several Chinese friends who are teachers and university graduates and none of them have ever been to a play either. China loves spectacles and they have some incredible performances in dance, both modern and traditional, martial arts, magic shows and puppetry, but not much in the line of what they call “modern realistic theatre.” All that being said, I’m sure there is theater in China and I will continue to look for it and keep you posted on the listserv.
A few years ago, I hired a Chinese student to help me look for theaters for the 50/50 award. I explained to her that live theater was often a critique of society. She said that sometimes there were some very short plays like the ones I described in Spring Festival Gala. The Spring Festival Gala is a live televised 2-hour (at least) program that almost the entire 1 billion Chinese watch each year.
So as for the question of free speech in China, I can only tell you what I know from my little perch. I feel very safe in China and I don’t see a lot of fear among my students either. Asia is a more resigned culture than the West. They’re not up in arms about real or imagined injustices at the drop of a hat. And they’re more respectful of traditions. China has made great strides in the last 30 years. Just as they have planted 1 million trees a year for the past 30 years, they are working hard to bring infrastructure and education to their 1.37 billion citizens. There’s certainly a long way to go, but I think the average Chinese believes that being optimistic and working toward a goal is more effective than confrontation.
As for families, we recently watched a movie about police officers in the United States. The focus of this movie was that most crimes are committed by people who come from fatherless homes. This is a big problem in the United States, but it is not a big problem in China. Almost all families are very supportive and the children, for the most part, want to honor their parents by obeying them. This is not to say that there are not problems with this attitude. When I talk with my students, I estimate that a full third of them do not like the major that was chosen for them by their family. On the other hand, I think a lot of young people in the United States would be much better off if they had some healthy respect for their parents and listened to what their families had to say. That is the value of diversity and cross cultural understanding. When we are so immersed in our own culture, it becomes invisible to us and other ways of understanding the world upset our values and force us to expand our thinking.
As for the status of women, first of all, it is not good. Secondly, like all things in China, it’s changing fast. Boys are more valued than girls even in the professional classes. One of my good Chinese friends, a college graduate and headmistress of a school, put it this way. “Until I have a boy, my mother has a headache.” Women who have at least one son are free to leave off childbearing. If they only have a daughter, they feel compelled to have more children until they have a boy. However there are many individuals and organizations in China whose sole purpose is to foster leadership among women and the landscape is changing.
Actually, I love living and working in China. The picture that you see is me with a Regong artist I met in Qinghai Province this October. And I just got back from a 2-hour massage that cost me 10 USD. The people are here friendly, optimistic and tech savvy. Most people purchase everything, including soda from a vending machine, from their phones. (I don’t. I still haven’t figured it out.) And I love the prices. A pot of acrylic paint that would cost 10 USD in the United States is 50 cents here.
Creating the newsletter from China is sometimes challenging when the Internet is not reliable. Everyone assumes China’s Internet would be amazingly fast. And maybe it is in Beijing or Shanghai. But I live in Henan, one of the poorest provinces in China, and it can go off for days at a time. That being said, I am able to successfully edit the newsletter. It just takes a little more patience.
And why do I do what I do? Quite by accident, I was nominated to the Board a few years after joining ICWP. Becoming a part of the board conversation made me aware that communication was one of the greatest needs of the organization so I suggested the newsletter. I encourage you to join in the conversation in our general meeting or in the listserve and look for a small job to do. Maybe you’ll get lucky like me and find your niche.
Welcome New Members
Courtney Fraces Fallon, USA
My mother went into labor shortly after 5AM on Friday, June 8th, 1984. Four short hours later I flew out of the birth canal like it was a water slide, with such force there was an explosion of birthing fluid that soaked my mother. Plenty of time to rinse off the mucus plug and other birthing goo and warm up with a nap in an incubator before hitting happy hour. I hit the ground running but decided to wait several decades until the time was right to blow your mind with my brilliance. NOW IS THE TIME! Be on the lookout for my work... it'll be looking out for you.
Stacey Katz, USA
I am a playwright and poet. My ten-minute play, Your Secret Beauty was produced as part of the SHORT PLAYS BY DIVAS at DivaFest, April 2, 9 and 10th, 2016 in Indianapolis. Big Hunger, a ten-minute play, was featured in the Indy Fringe and Indiana Writers Center Short Play Festival, April 17th and 18th, 2015 in Indianapolis. A one-act version of Big Hunger is in the works as is my first young adult novel.
Margo MacDonald, CANADA
Margo MacDonald is a Canadian multi-award winning actor, playwright, and theatre creator who has been making theatre for over 25 years. In 2010, she wrote and performed in the smash hit, Shadows, (about theatre maverick Eva Le Gallienne) which won the Ottawa Fringe (Canada) Outstanding Overall, Best of Fest, and Fan Favourite awards that year. It went on to the undercurrents: theatre below the mainstream festival at the Great Canadian Theatre Company (where the show’s tickets sold out a week before it opened), and has since played to rave reviews at Videofag in Toronto, Canada (curated by Jordan Tannahill and William Ellis), and the Tea House Theatre in London, England. She is the co-creator (with Richard Gelinas) of Much Ado About Feckin’ Pirates! which played at the Toronto Festival of Clowns mainstage, undercurrents festival, and SpringWorks. Her first solo show, The Elephant Girls, premiered at the 2015 Ottawa Fringe. There it sold out 100%, won Best of Fest, Critics’ Pick for Best Show, and Outstanding Overall, and was held-over for two additional performances (which also sold out). It then went on to receive three Prix Rideau Awards (Ottawa professional theatre awards) for Outstanding New Work, Outstanding Performance, and Outstanding Direction. It also sold out its entire run at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival (Canada). This show is currently touring internationally, and has recently returned from a highly successful run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. She is currently co-writing a play about punk rock (The Persistent Stain), another about a 17th-century, French, bisexual, cross-dressing, female, sword-fighter, opera singer, and duelist (Maupin), and yet another about Radclyffe Hall and Noel Coward holding séances (Rap Once For Yes).
Gabriela Sosa, PANAMA
Hail from Panama - as in the Isthmus.
First play I wrote was a musical: Don Panzote en la víspera del año 2000
Currently working on a one-woman-show that is an adaptation of my novel Love in the Time of Taksim
Now Playing & Coming Soon
The Johns by Mary Bonnett is playing January 19 - February 4 at Mildred's Umbrella Theater Company in Houston, Texas USA.
Harm’s Way by Marilyn Harris Kriegel will be given a staged reading, in Paris FRANCE, produced by The Big Funk, American Fridays. January 20, 7:30 pm at Pavé d’ orsay followed by wine and snacks.Tickets can be reserved by email or directly at the door (10€). firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy Oestreicher will be performing original material at the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Allianace Annual Conference. January 14 & 15, New York City, USA
Gutless &Grateful, the inspirational one-woman musical by Amy Oestreicher, returns to New York February 5th and25th. Visit Amy's website at amyoes.com.
China Theatre in Beijing hosts opera, ballet, drama and music performances from China and abroad.
Using the Moscow People’s Art Theater as a model, the Beijing People's Art Theatre has been creating modern, realistic drama for over 50 years.
Critical Stages details the impact on feminism on Chinese theatrical tradition, and talks about how women’s struggle is reflected in Chinese theater today.
The Global Times explains the struggle to preserve nandan, a controversial tradition of female impersonation in Peking Opera.
Based in NYC, Chinese Theatre Works brings China’s theatrical traditions to an international audience.
In the holiday shopping season, let's reflect on a simpler lifestyle focusing on what we have and helping those who have less.
December Spotlight: Debbie Miller
Debbie Miller is a New York City-based playwright. She maintains a simple lifestyle in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
This is from her website www.DebbieLMiller.com
I tend to write female characters who are marginal in some way -- a tea leaf reader, a 1950s housewife yearning for freedom, a Bangladeshi immigrant, a young mother from the Ozarks, an Appalachian mountain healer, and a shopping-addicted suburban homemaker.
Q: What made you start writing plays?
A: I'd gotten involved in community theater and stand-up comedy in the 1980s when I lived in Moorhead, Minnesota. I took my first improvisation and acting classes at the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theater.
When I moved to Knoxville, Tennessee a few years later, I continued doing stand-up and took improvisation and acting classes there. I founded an improv troupe and performed in a play for the first time, at Theatre Knoxville, a community theater. Playwriting seemed the next logical step because I found creating characters and writing dialogue came easy to me, especially after learning to improvise. I wrote my first play, "Tea Leaves," in a playwriting class in 1996 during a three-month visit to New York City. "Tea Leaves" was a tribute to my mother, who died that year.
Q: What makes you continue to write plays?
A: Playwriting allows me to use my acting, improvisation, and dialogue-writing skills. When I write plays and monologues, I hear the dialogue in my head and imagine the stage and scenes in my mind. I've been an actor as well as a writer (and I've directed a few plays Off-Off-Broadway), so bringing stories to life onstage seems natural to me. I like being on stage and I like creating characters who become three-dimensional when they move from page to stage.
Q: Where are you originally from and what makes you continue to live and write in New York City?
A: I was born and raised in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating from college in 1973, I got married and moved to Missouri to attend grad school; then, lived in West Virginia, Minnesota, and Tennessee before divorcing and moving to New York in 1997. I've lived in New York (Manhattan first, then Brooklyn where I live now) for 19 years--longer than I've lived anywhere since leaving Ohio.
Q: Where have your plays been produced?
A: My plays and monologues have been produced Off-Off-Broadway and in a few states. I've performed in some of my plays and have performed several of my monologues Off-Off-Broadway, as well as performing two one-person shows Off-Off-Broadway when I was involved in a small theater company. A couple of my plays were in the Samuel French Original Short Play Festival.
Q: Do you do other kinds of writing?
A: I've been a freelance writer on and off since 1990 when I was a fact-checker at a publishing company in Knoxville. I was a stringer for the Knoxville News-Sentinel and I've recently been reviving my freelance writing career now that I'm no longer teaching English. I write memoir, personal essays, features, profiles, short stories, flash fiction, Web content, news articles, and humor pieces. I'm planning to add writing case studies and white papers to my skill set. I've also written a screenplay and plan to write a novel.
Welcome New Members
Robyn Brooks M.F.A., poet and playwright, earned her M.F.A. in Poetry, from Mills College, and her B.A. in English, from UC Berkeley. She is an Emily Chamberlain Cook Prize in Poetry recipient, former Student-Teacher-Poet for June Jordan’s Poetry for the People, and a VONA/Voices alum. Her poetry has been published in Berkeley Poetry Review, Penumbra, Milvia Street, The Walrus, The Womanist, What I Want From You: Voices of East Bay Lesbian Poets, Generations Literary Journal, and blues arrival: stories of the queer black South and migration. Her chapbook, venus in retrograde, was published by Finishing Line Press.
Brooks studied playwriting with Carol Wolf. She participated in PlayGround, in residence at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2007-2013. Her plays have been staged at Berkeley Repertory Theatre for Monday Night PlayGround, Tennessee Women’s Theater Project Women’s Work, Theatre of Yugen, S.F., CA, Los Angeles Women’s Theater Project, Theatre Rhinoceros, S.F., CA, LunaSea, S.F., CA, and Mills College, Oakland, CA.
Amy Oestreicher is a PTSD peer-peer specialist, artist, author, writer for Huffington Post, TEDx and RAINN speaker, award-winning health advocate, actress and playwright, sharing the lessons learned from trauma through her writing, artwork, performance and inspirational speaking. She has headlined international conferences as a keynote speaker, and as author and star of "Gutless & Grateful", her one-woman musical autobiography, since its NYC debut in 2012. Her writings have appeared in over 70 online and print publications, and her story has appeared on TODAY, Cosmopolitan and CBS. She's currently touring a mental health advocacy/sexual assault awareness program to colleges nationwide.
Website address - amyoes.com
Facebook page - facebook.com/amyoestr
Now Playing & Coming Soon
If you have a play that will be in production anywhere 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. If you have a play that will be produced anytime between February 1 and February 28, it will appear in the COMING SOON column.
"A Good Old Fashioned Redneck Country Christmas" by Kris Bauske is having at least three productions this month.
Theatre Quadra at the Quadra Community Centre 970 West Rd. Quadra Island B.C. Canada will present "A Good Old Fashioned Redneck Country Christmas" December 16, 17, & 18. To join in the madcap merriment, contact Linda Lolacher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-285-2203. Visit their website for more information.
The Theatre Factory at 235 Cavitte Avenue Tafford, PA 15085 will present "A Good Old Fashioned Redneck Country Christmas" from December 2-18, 2016. Call 412-374-9200 for more information, or check their website.
Theatre Atchison at 401 Santa Fe Street in Atchison, KS 66002 will present "A Good Old Fashioned Redneck Country Christmas" December 2-4 & December 9-11. Call 913-367-SHOW (7469) for more information, or check out their website.
The Fast and Furious One-Minute Playwright Foundation (San Francisco-- @PWfoundation) shorts has six ICWP members out of their 40+ playwrights for their 70 plays. Dec 3rd at 8 PM at the Brava Theatre @Brava Theatre, and Dec 4th at 5PM. Fun is promised for all. Our members include: Roberta D'Alois, Carol Lashoff, Patricia Milton, Pat Morin, Evelyn Jean Pine, and Madeline Puccioni. Tickets on sale--really a great price!
"Gutless & Grateful" by Amy Oestreiche, the inspirational one-woman musical, returns to New York, February 5th and 25th. It will be playing at the Metropolitan Room.
Articles of Interest: Radical Hospitality and Anti-Consumerism
by Karin Williams
Playwright Anna Deavere Smith gave a lecture on "Radical Hospitality" at Harvard University, exploring the urgent socio-political importance of the concept in today's world.
Hedgebrook, a writer's retreat for women, offers radical hospitality to people who are used to nurturing others.
Those Women in Berkeley pracitce radical hospitality with their pay-what-you-can policy and find feminism in the most unlikely places.
Minneapolis's Mixed Blood Theatre has found a new audience by eliminating cost barriers. And they kicked off Radical Hospitality with a season of challenging work.
After the bitterness of the election season, celebrate an anti-consumerist holiday with Reverand Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir at Joe's Pub in New York City.
This Black Friday, celebrate Buy Nothing Day and escape the shopocalypse.
The Buy Nothing Project offers people a way to give and recieve, share, lend, and express gratitude through a worldwide network of hyper-local gift economies.
November Spotlight: Diane Taber-Markiewicaby Eliza Wyatt
Diane Taber visited me in my living room last night, even though we live three thousand miles apart. The human voice over the landline phone is still a miracle we take for granted and yet has immense importance to me, as a playwright. It was revealing to hear her laugh, her rhythms (she’s a musician) and absorb her enthusiasms.
Diane Taber was a founding member of the International Women’s Playwrights’ Conference in Buffalo, New York, where she grew up. This accords with my experience of home turf being a good place to stand when you want to reach the rest of the world. Her family were interested in the arts and there was music at home; her father enjoyed treading the boards and was an accomplished actor. Her life was changed, however, by a performance of "A Taste of Honey" by Shelagh Delaney by a local theater group, the Studio Arena Theater of Buffalo. Swept away by the play, Diane applied for and won a scholarship to study there. I note with pleasure that the work was written by a woman about a disadvantaged girl in Northern England. It was a seminal play for many of us in the U.K., a play written when Shelagh was eighteen.
Diane was inspired by her training and that play to connect with other women in theatre and provide support. Her motto was "Never Alone Again". As Communications Director, she realized the enormous potential of the fledging organization of women playwrights, which was established the year following the first conference in Buffalo in 1988. She introduced and edited a quarterly newsletter, Seasons, whose readership grew to over 1100 women in 48 different countries.
During the nineties Diane remembered being thrilled with the opportunity to read so many scripts from women across the world who wanted their plays read and performed at the conferences. The importance of the group continued to grow and have an impact by championing women who were under threat in their own countries, notably by supporting the Bosnian Women Playwrights performance tour of 1997 and the successful international effort that secured the release of celebrated playwright, Ratna Sarumpaet of Indonesia. She feels proud that the Fourth Conference in Galway in 1997 had such an impact. Not content with the International outreach, which reached women in India, Africa, South America and Canada, Diane realized, while living in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1999 that the International Women Playwrights Conference should be appended by smaller regional U.S. conferences, beginning with Dayton, Ohio. Activism has to begin close to home.
It was with great delight that I was able to access Diane’s first play, Headwind, through the magic of YouTube. This was a reading of the hour long play set in Seventeenth Century Maine. Her play was based on much research and included an authentic sea shanty, although she tells me the romance between the two main characters was fictional.
Diane has remained a passionate support of ICWP but her music career has taken off since in 2006 she began writing her own songs. She has formed her own production company, DTM-Music and Didja Tangle the Muse Publishing. Her recent work has received international airplay and praise. And the future? Diane, like all of us, hope that theatre will continue to reach young people even if venues and equity performances prove too expensive to be experimental. Perhaps the fact that halfway across the world, I could enjoy her play on YouTube is a taste of things to come.
Her stage plays have been selected for the Playwrights Showcase of the Western Region, the Chicago Snapshots Festival, Colorado’s CCTC Festival, and the National AACT Fest, where her drama about the impact of the Prop 8 trial, “Unmarried in America,” earned the coveted Best Ensemble Production. A screenplay version is now in development with AEC Studios.
Carlson is a Bronze Tablet graduate of the University of Illinois and holds a Master of Arts in Performance Studies from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill where she was selected as an outstanding instructor. She was awarded a Dramatists Write Change Scholarship in 2015 and serves as a Colorado teaching artist in residence.
Dramatists Guild Page Link: https://www.dramatistsguild.com/memberdirectory/getmembership.aspx?cid=36624
Elin Hampton, USA
Most recently, Elin Hampton’s ten-minute play F4, was a national finalist at CityWrights, where it received a full production in CityWrights Summer Shorts. This past summer, her ten-minute play THINGS THAT MATTERED was produced for Studio Players’ 10-Minute Play Festival in Lexington, Kentucky and had a reading at the Samuel French Book Shop at its first Short Play Festival. Her plays have also been produced at The York Theatre, The Road Theatre Co., the Hollywood Fringe Festival, Greenway Arts Alliance, The Collective (NY), Open Eye Theatre and EST/LA’s Winterfest. AMOTHER MUSICAL (book, lyrics) is licensed by Steele Spring Stage Rights, and was produced July 2016 at the Musical Theatre Guild in Butler, PA. Other works are published in Smith & Kraus’s: Best Ten Minute Plays 2015 and in Applause Theatre Book: Contemporary
Monologues for Kids 7-15. Television credits include "Mad About You," “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” "Dream On," "Pinky and the Brain,” “Rugrats,” “The Wild Thornberries,” John Leguizamo’s House of Buggin’,” “Life’s Work,” “The Gregory Hines Show,” “Barclay’s Beat,” and “The Jackie Thomas Show.”
Representative Play Titles
The Bells of West 87th, Amother Musical
Jodie Leidecker, USA
In fourth grade, I started writing poems and by sixth grade, I'd moved on to soap operas and a school play.
I've done technical writing for industry, newsletter and press release writing for colleges and nonprofits, blogging, and essay and humor writing for the web. I've written for various humor sites and self-published a series of funny essays. I've most recently begun writing plays, several of which have been performed in theater festivals in New York City.
Everyone has a story. I love finding that story and telling it.
John; Dr. Hoxley; There Are No Straight Lines in Nature; Stockpile; Apocalypse Fatigue
Now Playing & Coming Soon
November 18, 7:30 p.m.
A New Daddy
My ten-minute play about a Midwestern family surviving the loss of the father in 1952 will be presented as a public reading by The Scripteasers in San Diego, California. Free and open to the public, at 3404 Hawk Street.
November 14, 7:30 p.m.
Bernice Sizemore's 70th Birthday is the first in a series of staged readings of plays with LGBTQ themes by Louisville-area playwrights presented by Pandora Productions. Surprises arrive on Bernice's birthday including a gun and a gift certificate for a tombstone. Yoga-loving square-dancing Bernice has a few surprises of her own for her workaholic daughter and the son she hasn’t spoken to since he announced he was gay.
Jeanne Drennan’s Get out of Dodge will have its premiere production November 3-20 at the Venice Theatre, in Venice, Florida. For more information, see venicestage.c
Women who make theater and film will benefit from a new 5 million dollar fund in NYC. The program, started by the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, will also offer women opportunities to network with financiers.
For over thirty years the Guerrilla Girls have been bringing feminist theatre to the masses.
Chicago’s visionary, female-driven Artemisia Theatre Company is currently staging Shrewish, a feminist adaptation of the bard.
Equality for Women in Irish Theatre is a grassroots movement calling for equality for women across the Irish theatre sector. #WakingTheFeminists.
Feminist theatre was alive and well at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, according to the The List.
Washington Ensemble Theatre is focusing on feminism in their 2016-17 season.
Yours for innovative, engaging, and equitable theater,
For the awards’ 5th anniversary, ICWP recognized 107 recipients in ten countries on five continents. The list includes theatres in Australia, Canada, England, Italy, Kenya, the Philippines, Scotland, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United States. Approximately 32% of the theatres are repeat recipients, demonstrating gender parity in two or more seasons. Recipients range from community and college theatres to internationally renowned theatres.
To watch the video click here.
Renaissance Theaterworks, USA
Know Theater, USA
Morgan Manasa, USA
Jajube Mandiela, Canada
Mahindokht Mohasseb, Iran
Mahindokht Mohasseb was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1947. She holds an LL.B and an LL.M
degree in Law. She is an attorney-at-law and has authored several books in her field (Genocide,
Access to Justice, Human Rights and Women). Mahin has always been interested in theater and
has published twelve plays focusing on women’s rights and issues.
Riot Act, Inc.
Brooklyn Repertory Theatre
AMELIA LIVES by Laura Shamas is a one-woman show about Amelia Earhart. It runs Sept. 24 - October 2, 2016, produced by American History Theater, San Diego, California, at the Women's Museum of California. For more details and ticket info: http://www.americanhistorytheater.org/amelia-lives
Amy Drake’s play MODEL BEHAVIOR, a 10-minute comedy about the fashion industry, will run Oct. 7-9, 2016, at the Prescott Center for the Arts in Prescott, AZ as part of the Female Playwrights ONSTAGE project with Little Black Dress INK. Here is the link for more info: http://www.littleblackdressink.org/
Nancy Gall-Clayton’s short comedy Wallaroo, the Goldfish is included in the AlphaNYC Thalia Festival, featuring plays with female characters written by female playwrights on the B and C bills. The festival runs October 6-16, at 7 pm or 9 pm. Tickets are $30. Roebuck Studio & Theater is in Times Square, 300 W. 43rd Street between 8th and 9th Avenues, Suite 402.
The Subject Project, a theatre movement dedicated to raising awareness about sexual assault issues and protesting lenient rape sentences, launched in September with multiple readings of the new play THE SUBJECT by Carolyn Kras. Readings will continue throughout 2016-2017 at theatres and universities. Check out thesubjectproject.wordpress.com for more info or to get involved.
365 Women a Year invites women playwrights to create plays about herstorical women! Now in it’s third year, the project involves over 200 playwrights who have signed on to write one or more one-acts about extraordinary women in both past and present history.
Women in the Arts and Media Coalition offers a centralized resource for the advancement of professional women in the arts and media industries. The coalition is comprised of member organizations which combine their efforts.
The League of Professional Theatre Women seeks to promote visibility and increase opportunities for women in the Professional Theatre. With a membership of nearly 500 women representing a diversity of theatre professionals in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors, the League welcomes actors, administrators, agents, arrangers, casting directors, choreographers, company managers, composers, critics, designers, directors, dramaturgs, educators, general managers, historians, journalists, librettists, lyricists, playwrights, press agents, producers, stage managers, and theatre technicians.
50 50 in 2020 Sponsored by Women’s Project, New Perspectives Theatre, and the League of Professional Theatre Women, the goal of 50 50 in 2020 is to achieve parity for professional women theatre artists by 2020.
The Magdalena Project is an international network of women in contemporary theatre and performance. It aims to increase awareness of women's contributions to theatre and to create the artistic and economic structures and support networks to enable women to work
September Spotlight: Naijeria Toweett
Naijeria Toweett is passionate about equality and empowerment especially among minority and vulnerable populations.
She is a drama graduate from Newcastle College, UK. She has worked in the arts having held the position of an administrative assistant to Dance City, Newcastle. On returning to her native Kenya in 1997, she together with other young female artists formed Women in Participatory Educational Theatre (WEPET), Kenya’s first all women theatre company. She has held various positions in several dance and theatre organizations in Kenya among them, Institute of Performing Arts (IPAL), The Theatre Company (TTC) and Dance Into Space (DIS) where she now sits on the board.
Naijeria has also worked as a program officer for Most At Risk Populations in Liverpool VCT Care and Treatment and the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya – GALCK.
Naijeria loves digital media and for the past three years she has been the social media manager of Love Matters Africa, a project that targets young people with sexual reproductive health information. The Love Matters Facebook page is ranked in the top 25 among the most engaging Kenyan-based pages.
Naijeria has recently scripted and directed a web soap series on Love Sex and Relationships for a Love Matters mobile platform.
She has been an ICWP member since 2009.
Marjorie Conn, USA
Actor and Producer
3 plays are published in Lost Lesbian Lives
THEATER/INTERESTS: Theater has been a life-long interest, from enjoying community to Broadway performances, nurturing and supporting an actor son, providing financial support to local art centers, being a crowd-funder to fledgling producers, and writing one act and full length scripts, drama and comedy. Lives, plays, works and writes in beautiful Southwest Colorado where she resides with her husband and three dogs.
23 Skidoo. Performed at the Durango Arts Center 10 Minute Play Contest, Durango CO, September, 2013
Trail Meetups, Performed at the Manhattan Short Play Lab, New York City, October, 2014
Satellite Buddha. Performed at the Secret Theater One-Act Play Contest. Queens, New York City, September 2015
Exhibitions at a Picture, Finalist, reading at Festival 56 New Works Play Writing Competition, Princeton IL July 2016
Jane Prendergast, USA
Jane has had many productions of short plays, such as "NOLA Goodbye", "The Diers" "May 10" and "After the Fire" and readings by NYU's hotINK festival, Genesius Guild and other organizations of full-length plays including "Memories are Made of This", "Act of Peace" and "Echoes: 1938"
Most of my work is connected with human rights issues such as abuses perpetrated by peacekeeping forces, prosecutorial misconduct and the convictions of the innocent.
Christine Emmert's play, SAY NO MORE, a re-thinking of Strindberg's THE STRONGER, will be part of the Philadelphia Fringe 2016, presented on September 15,16,17 at 7:30 in Jed Williams Gallery, 315 Bainbridge Street, Philadelphia. Tickets are $10. Call 610-917-1336 for information.
The Athena Cats present the World Premiere of Blueprint for Paradise, by Laurel Weztork. Set in Los Angeles just before the US declares war on Japan in 1941. The play explores wealth, racial tensions, Nazis, the Mothers of America, and other pre-war political groups.
PLAYING AT: Hudson Theatre Mainstage, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038
July 30 – September 4: Fridays and Saturdays @ 8:00 pm, Sundays @ 3:00 pm
Check Goldstar for last-minute and discounts.
MODEL BEHAVIOR, a ten-minute play by Amy Drake, will be performed in the Little Black Dress INK's Women Playwrights ONSTAGE theater festival, Oct 6-8, 2016, at the Prescott Center for the Arts, Prescott, AZ. More information may be obtain on the website: http://www.littleblackdressink.org/ and Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LittleBlackDressINK
Articles of Interest
Project Ariadne is planning a pan-African festival of women’s theatre in Rwanda. The company was founded to tell the stories of women in conflict zones around the world whose work is changing the society they live in.
African women are making history in 2016! Read about some extraordinary women artists and their groundbreaking projects at okayafrica.
South Africa’s Olive Tree Theatre will be hosting it’s 5th The Women's Theatre Festival from 21- 30 October 2016. The festival gives women directors a platform to showcase their work.
Parity Productions is a new theatre company dedicated to equality for women and transgender theatre artists. Besides producing and promoting new work, they host a database of women and transgender writers, directors, and designers, and also commission two new plays a year.
Will writers ever be replaced by artificial intelligence? Take a look at this short film written by an AI, and judge for yourself!
August Spotlight: Naomi Westerman
Begun as group of women who were frustrated by being a women in the theatre industry and united by a shared passion for theatre, Shakespeare, and feminism, Naomi and a small group of women started Little But Fierce in 2013. Rather than doing straight Shakespeare productions, they have created a mixture of Shakespeare adaptations and Shakespeare-inspired new work.
In 2013 I set up the all-female theatre company, Little but Fierce. This is how.
My theatre company started, like many of my successes, by accident. I was frustrated with the challenges of being a woman in the theatre industry, and knew many women who shared these frustrations. I started to arrange regular get-togethers where we could talk, debate, workshop, learn, play and develop work in a no-stress women-only environment. Through these sessions, a core group developed, bonded by a shared passion for theatre, Shakespeare, and feminism. I was, at the same time, doing regular improv with several of my female friends, and we had been debating setting up some kind of more formal all-female theatre group. In summer 2013, I officially co-founded and became artistic director of a new all-female theatre company. I knew I wanted a Shakespearean name, and “Little but Fierce” seemed the obvious choice. Being rather short myself (and definitely fierce), I have always felt a kinship with Hermia!
Our goal was to create female-led theatre to not only create work for women, but to prove that female theatre can be funny and mainstream and commercially successful. Our policy is to cast roles race-blind and ability status-blind, and we try to be as diverse as possible. We work not just with female actors, but also with female directors, producers, and other backstage crew, as it is women in the latter category who are the most marginalized, even in the current debate about gender equality in theatre.
We decided that, rather than doing straight Shakespeare productions, we would create an mixture of Shakespeare adaptations and Shakespeare-inspired new work (though as thecompany evolved we have gone on to stage more new writing).
Our first production was in December of that year, an adaptation of A Christmas Carol with Shakespearean characters (Juliet, Lady Macbeth, and a skull-toting Hamlet) taking the place of the ghosts; this was staged at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Christmas Stage Festival. The RSC's support and having their name on our CV opened many doors and was a wonderful debut.
Our next project, a series of dialogues between Shakespearean characters and contemporary new characters, was shortlisted at the Bush Theatre. Since then, we have produced work at the New Wolsey Theatre, Richmond, the Cockpit Theatre, Theatre N16, and even a showcase in the West End!
We are currently planning productions of Much Ado About Nothing (set in a faded regional theatre company in the 1950s) and Measure for Measure (set in the American Bible Belt), alongside more new writing, and an interactive theatre-in-education project aimed at secondary school students called: Choose Your Own Adventure Shakespeare.
The only advice I could give women thinking of setting up their own companies is: Do it. Don't worry about what might go wrong, because things will go wrong. Make mistakes. Learn. Fail better. And make sure you've got really good friends to support you.
Leah Joki, Made in Montana Press, USA
Sharon Lamb, UK
Psychologist, Psychology Professor, Playwright
I am a psychologist and psychology professor who has begun to write plays. I studied playwriting in London and I have a feminist dystopian play ready to go with really solid parts for 4 women! YAY.
Jodie Leidecker, USA
Everyone has a story. I love finding that story and telling it.
In fourth grade, I started writing poems and by sixth grade, I'd moved on to soap operas and a school play.
I've done technical writing for industry, newsletter and press release writing for colleges and nonprofits, blogging, and essay and humor writing for the web. I've written for various humor sites and self-published a series of funny essays. I've most recently begun writing plays, several of which have been performed in theater festivals in New York City. Everyone has a story. I love finding that story and telling it.
Representative Plays: John; Dr. Hoxley; There Are No Straight Lines in Nature; Stockpile; Apocalypse Fatigue
Playwright, children’s book author, professor of writing.
Laura Toffler is a playwright, children’s book author and professor of writing. Her most recent play, ‘The Latin Beat,’ was a semi finalist in Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s 2016 one act play competition. Laura’s play for children, ‘A Boy Named Nars,’ was published in Story Works Magazine (Scholastic), and she’s had a variety of work produced in and around New York. In addition, Laura is the author of the young adult novels, The Life and Opinions of Amy Finawitz and My Totally Awkward Supernatural Crush, published by MacMillan. Having earned an MFA in dramatic writing from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, she teaches ‘Writing for Children and Teens’ at Pace University and Westchester Community College.
Now Playing and Coming Soon
In response to your comments on the survey, as of September our newsletter will have a new column, NOW PLAYING & COMING SOON to promote our members’ productions worldwide. If you have a play that will be in production anywhere between September 1 – September 30, please respond to Amy Drake (email@example.com) before August 15 and it will be featured in the NOW PLAYING column of the September newsletter. If you have a play that will b
e produced anytime between October 1 and October 31, likewise email Amy and it will appear in the COMING SOON column.
Articles of Interest
The Kilroys are a group of LA playwrights and producers who are taking action to achieve gender parity in theater. Every year, they survey the industry and publish a list of excellent unproduced new plays by female and trans playwrights.
Chicago’s Gift Theatre debuts a season of new work by women playwrights, featuring plays by Mona Mansour, Claire Kiechel and Janine Nabers.
LAFPI is taking a stand against sexism in Los Angeles theatre. If you’re a woman playwright in the LA area, LAFPI wants to promote your work and help you connect with other artists.
Women will make their voices heard in the Stratford Festival’s 2017 season. Women will direct eight out of the festival’s 14 productions, and the Studio Theatre will present work by three generation of female playwrights.
A study by the British Theatre Consortium and the Society of London Theatre shows female playwrights struggle to break through a “glass ceiling.” Plays by women were staged in smaller theaters, had shorter runs, and lower ticket prices.
Barbara Lhota is a playwright and screenwriter from Detroit, MI. Currently living and working in Chicago, Barbara received her degree from Wayne State University studying acting and then going on to study at Brandeis to pursue Dramatic Writing. She was a winner of Babes With Blades' 2nd annual playwriting competition Joining Sword and Pen for her play Los Desaparecidos (The Vanished). Among many other accolades, her play Echo was a semi-finalist for the 2013 Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, as well as for the American Firehouse Theatre, and The Athena Project in Denver. Her latest show, 180 Degrees, was co-written with Margaret (M.E.H.) Lewis and finished its run in Chicago this past May. Today, she continues to write for stage and screen, and is an Associate Member Artist at the Babes with Blades Theatre Company in Chicago.
When did you start playwriting?
When I was at Wayne State University in Detroit, I was an acting major. I had a dream to be an actress but found that I lived too much in my head. I wasn’t yet out as a lesbian, and so I was a bit uncomfortable physically too. I believe when you have secrets about yourself or are holding back, I think that makes you less open as an actress or artist in general. Story writing and telling is generally revealing, so you have to be free to be yourself, with flaws showing.
I remember thinking in undergrad that the actresses were always short-changed on roles. In classics there are about three times as many male vs. female roles, and almost all the plays we were doing were written by men. Meanwhile, there were about twice as many actresses in the theater department vs actors. One of my best friends and roommate at the time, Barbara Kanady, encouraged me to write a play. That year, 1987, I started writing my first play in a coffee shop between classes. It had three women and one man. We produced it that year in one of Wayne State’s black box. My roommate directed it and my professors were quite impressed.
I did get into University Resident Theatre Auditions (URTAs) and ended up having a scholarship to be an acting major for grad school but decided not to go. Instead I ended up with a scholarship to Brandeis for dramatic writing the year after graduation. Longer story but Theresa Rebeck, who was in Brandeis’ PhD program at the time, played a large part in my deciding to go to Brandeis.
When you write, do you focus on developing characters first, or the plot?
Through the years, I have done both. When I was younger, I frequently focused on a leading character first. I was drawn into quirky characters and those I found challenging from my life. I used to struggle with plot, and now, I often hear that my plots are intricate. Certainly, my play, 180 Degree Rule, which was co-written with M.E.H. Lewis, was plot heavy. But despite that, I felt like we knew every aspect of the characters too. Both are so important and they can help feed each other.
I feel like now I start with ideas rather than characters and plot. For instance, I’m working on a play called 85 Billion Neurons to Forever. I was having dinner with a friend and she asked me how I wanted to be buried. I told her that I wish those who were dead could have their brains uploaded so we could ask their advice. I started to research transhumanism and cyborgs out of fascination. It got me thinking about what it means to be human. I started to develop the play using that idea as a question to explore.
When Margaret (M.E.H. Lewis) and I started to develop 180 Degree Rule, we were talking about how famous women artists were frequently dismissed over time. We started chatting about Dorothy Arzner, a film director from the 20s-40s, who was largely unknown. She invented the boom mic for God’s sake and managed to survive the studio system. In her films, she regularly slipped in feminist themes and lesbian overtones, which I consider pretty forward-thinking and daring. 180 Degree Rule was inspired by her and other forgotten female directors of the 30s because we started to ask questions about the struggles they faced – the life they must have or could have lived. It inspired us to fill in the blanks.
How did you learn about ICWP?
I joined a long, long time ago – in the 90s. I found the Listserv first because I had just graduated and I felt alone as a writer…it’s a lonely craft. I know I wanted to listen to other playwrights’ struggles and successes, particularly female playwrights. It also listed opportunities for women. I believe one of the leading members of ICWP at the time – maybe - Linda Eisenstein, was writing an article or quoted in an article so I went and found the site.
What is your writing process like? Do you have any rituals?
My process is different for every play. I don’t want to impose too many rules or rituals. The process is like cooking for me. I don’t tend to strictly follow a recipe. I throw in what I need at the time…I see I need more research in a moment. I do the research. I see I need a bit more understanding of the backstory. I take some time to free write about a character’s backstory. This way I stay open to possibilities. I don’t impose too many rules and obligations. It stays spontaneous and fun.
Some plays flow out pretty easily and others seem to require a lot of outlining, research, wrestling and tears. I don’t know that those that came out easier are better. The couple of things I always try to do now are 1) outline what the main character wants to have happen and what are the major obstacles, (What does the audience want to see happen?/What are we waiting for?) 2) outline first scene, act one ending or mid-way climax, and ending, 3) know in chronological order the full relationship and major events that happened between the main/pivotal characters (even if those events are never shown on stage), 4) What question am I exploring?
I also always mouth all the lines as I’m writing or re-reading my work. I play all the parts. This is why I no longer work in coffee shops. I look a bit nutzo.
Do you often work in tandem with a theatre company, or seek out a theatre after you have written a show?
I work a lot with Babes With Blades Theatre Company (BWBTC) in Chicago, where I am an associate member artist. The mission of BWBTC resonates with me. BWBTC is also a company of highly-collaborative, supportive, responsive, clever, resilient women. I tend to naturally write plays where female characters are active and the primary focus. I’m quite fond of male characters as well and like them to be uniquely placed in roles that tend to be more gentle and supportive. Because I’ve always lived in cities and grew up in Detroit during a highly turbulent time in history, violence has been part of my life experience. I think I am drawn to explore the effects of violence, which is very in-line with Babes’ mission.
I definitely match my plays to appropriate theatres and their mission. I think you have to focus on that as you try to step into the role of marketing your play. For Warped, for instance, I definitely targeted Stage Left Theatre in Chicago. I knew that play would provoke debate because it was inspired by a debate/discussion between friends. When I finish the full-length version of 85 Billion Neurons to Forever, I will definitely seek out OtherWorld Theatre Company since their mission is science fiction.
Where do you pull most of your inspiration from when creating characters?
My family and friends. I have extremely unique individuals in my life. I draw from those around me.
Do you have a favorite genre you like to write? (Comedy, drama, fantasy, etc.)
Drama mostly with a lot of comedy laced throughout. My experience in life is that somebody always cracks a joke in the middle of the most tragic circumstances. I like drama but if the play has no humor, I find that unreal.
What would you say was your most rewarding moment as a playwright or writer in general?
There are so many rewarding moments and most heart-warming moments are not about awards or fabulous reviews. What I love is that moment alone when I’m working on a particular difficult moment in a play (the part where I’m stuck or unsure) and the answer just presents itself. It’s like God or the story is talking to you. There’s so much reward in that. When I was working with Margaret (M.E.H. Lewis) I loved that because it happened a number of times when we were outlining together and we got to share that kismet moment together.
My other biggest reward in playwriting is when the director and actors get all excited about some moment in the play that was a bit of a struggle to figure out. They not only figure out how to do it, but do it better and with more gusto than I could have imagined. I love the creative process and the collaboration most of all.
What advice would you give to a young woman just starting out as a playwright?
Work on the basics: scene work with conflict and surprise, action, distinguishing character voices. Volunteer to be a script reader for a theater. If you can intern at a bigger theater company, even better, but do it where you can read a lot of scripts. It gives you a lot of insight. Read and workshop your plays, even if that’s in your living room with actors you know. Listen to feedback that is repeated by multiple people and from those you trust. Write a lot – as much as you can. Send plays that are ready out. 100 a year to try to get any response. Treat your fellow artists (directors, actors, designer) with respect and love. When you are discouraged, read the many stories of famous writers’ woes. There are many of them out there on the interwebs…find them. You are not alone.
Mayura Baweja has been working in the theatre as an actor, writer and director for more than a decade. Her first full length play Paper Thin was part of a staged reading last year in Singapore. Passionate about finding and making spaces for women's voices in theatre, she is thrilled to be part of this writing community. She currently resides in Bangalore.
How the company began:
I pitched a production of my play "Just Deserts" (the Oresteia from the pov of the Furies) as a co-curricular event to the Seminar program at St Mary's College. I told SMC we were doing a production in Berkeley and could bring it to the College. In fact, we had no plans to do the play at all and no infrastructure. SMC said yes and we scrambled to figure out what the hell we were doing. An anonymous donor emerged out of thin air (so it seemed to me) and I opened a checking account in the name of Those Women Productions. (See Those Women’s website www.thosewomenproductions.com or/and www.facebook.com/CarolSLashofPlaywright/)
Those Women Productions is a professional theater company with deep roots in the Berkeley community. Libby Vega and I met at the Berkeley Public Library and were drawn together by our shared loves of classic literature and feminism. We did not see a local theater company where those passions were integral, so we formed Those Women Productions to shake up the patriarchy while telling great stories with broad appeal. Our inaugural production in 2014 was the world premiere of my play, “Just Deserts”, a darkly comic retelling of the origin myth of the jury system told from the perspective of the avenging furies. It was performed at The Metal Shop Theater, where we began, at Willard Middle School. In 2015, Those Women Productions mounted two full productions. They returned to The Metal Shop Theater to stage “In Plain Sight”. This show offered new takes on old tales from diverse world cultures and featured the work of five Bay Area playwrights, all women. The San Jose Mercury News described it as “…a provocative mix of voices and perspectives.” The Express also named Those Women Productions the “Best Year-Old Theater Company” of 2015. The Dramatist Guild lauded Those Women for joining the fight for gender parity, “turn(ing) patriarchy on its ear.”
Those Women Productions is an adventurous theater company dedicated to exploring hidden truths of gender and power. The company aims to bring marginalized voices to the center of the stage, to ask bold questions and instigate conversation. Because conversations are more exciting with diverse participants, they practice Radical Hospitality: everyone is invited to the theater regardless of ability to pay.
About Carol and her Work:
Carol’s plays have been broadcast on BET and NPR and staged on five continents—from the Magic Theatre and Piano Fight in San Francisco to Peking University and the University of Guam. Her publications include several scripts for teens available from Youth PLAYS, as well as work in numerous anthologies. She holds a PhD from Stanford University and is Professor Emerita at Saint Mary’s College of California. Carol’s been a member of ICWP without interruption since 2011. “But very long ago,” Carol said, “and possibly in the early 1990s when her children were young and listservs were a totally new cool thing, I was on the listserv. I can't remember how I first heard about ICWP or came to join it, perhaps through the Dramatists Guild - I've been a DG member since 1981. Anyway, I couldn't keep up and was shoving my playwriting "career" to the way-back burner, so I dropped off the list.”
Trials and Tribulations of Beginning Your Own Theatre Company:Affordable, accessible, and available performance space is extremely difficult to find in the Bay Area. Our next show, Margaret of Anjou, will be shown at Live Oak Theatre in Berkeley, CA., a new venue, another step forward.
Trying to figure out all the various media necessary for promotional tasks.
Making time for everything that needs to be done probably is the number one issue.
The potential for very public failure and consequent humiliation is terrifying.
Don't be afraid to ask for help!
Work on the 50/50 Applause Award has made us aware of the many all women theaters around the globe As such, they do not qualify for the 50/50 award. But they do important work in in promoting women playwrights and ICWP would like to recognize and honor them in this newsletter.
The New Georges is a New York based theater founded in 1992by Susan Bernfield, Greer Goodman, and Colleen McQuade. This non-profit companyproduces and nurtures theatrically adventurous female artists. It has grown toproduce 43 premieres of new American plays, had 21 new plays commissioned (18of which were also produced), and attracted 175 affiliated artists, including playwrights, directors, actors, and designers. I spoke with Susan about New Georges and her experience working at this outstanding company for women.
AJ Baker, USA
3 Girls Theatre Company
Susan Horowitz, USA
Susan “Dr. Sue” Horowitz, Ph.D., Creator of “SssWitch! - A Bewitching Musical” is a Writer of Award-Winning Musicals, Comedies, Songs, Plays, Poetry, and Books. Her works include: 2015 National Winner Youth Comedy (Judy Maccabee); First Prize Hunter Playwrights (Angelface); First Prize Children’s Play Contest (The Golden Heart); Book (Queens of Comedy: interviews with legendary comediennes), Children’s Book of the Month Club (Read With Me), Cine Golden Eagle - Original Screenplay for Animated Film, CD of original songs (Keys of Love), Poetry Book (I Am Loved) Performance Awards for Acting/Singing. Education: University of Chicago, Yale Drama School, Ph.D. CUNY Graduate Center/Hunter. Training: Second City Improvisation, BMI Musical Theatre Workshop, Songwriters Guild, Summersongs, Private Music Lessons. Memberships: Dramatists Guild, Theater Resources Unlimited (T.R.U.), Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs (MAC), Musical Writers Meeting, Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI), WomenArts. “SssWitch! – A Bewitching Musical” is fiscally sponsored by TRU for tax-deductible contributions.
Kate Perry, UK
Kate Perry is from Co. Tyrone and began her career as a writer/performer in San Francisco with her one-woman show My Name is Kate Perry and I've been Drinking. Her solo performance in No Mate for the Magpie (an adaptation of the novel of the same name) premiered in the U.S. and later toured throughout Ireland to critical acclaim. Her short film Mañana premiered at the Galway Film Festival and was broadcast in Ireland on RTE. Her short film Ruthless was shortlisted for funding from Kildare Co. Council earlier this year.
Currently living in London, Perry performed her one-woman show Shh! It’s the Very Perry Show at the Royal Academy for Dramatic Arts and the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe where critics awarded her 4 stars.
“Perry is a major talent, and she brings her skills in full force in this hilarious and sometimes bitter-sweet hour.” Adam Wilson, Edinburgh Festival Magazine.
Kate Perry is a fine actress, Max Stafford-ClarkBesides performing and writing her own material Kate has appeared in numerous stage productions, film and television. She has written for Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 4 Extra and RTE Radio 1. Tamsin Greig (Episodes) Doreen Keogh (The Royale Family) and Conleth Hill (double Olivier award winner, Game of Thrones) have performed Kate’s work. She graduated with distinction from Trinity College, Dublin with an MPhil in creative writing and holds a Masters Degree in Screenwriting from the Institute of Art Design and Technology, Dun Laoghaire.
Janet Preus, USA
Janet Preus has spent part of her life as a journalist and the rest of it directing and teaching theater until she started writing, primarily for musical theater. She was a New Tuners workshop member under John Sparks at Theatre Building Chicago, where she co-developed a show that was accepted into the Stages Festival. She has written for Church Musicals Inc., Nashville, won national songwriting awards and state awards in both print and broadcast journalism, and is the recipient of artist grants from the McKnight and Jerome Foundations. She has been reviewing Twin Cities (Minnesota) theater for howwastheshow.com for several years and recently co-founded the New Musical Theatre Exchange workshop and production company. Welcome to Hell, her first full-length non-musical play, received recognition as a one-act in its first competition. With a play in production last summer (Hank & Jesus) and co-production of a musical (Snip, Snap, Snute) in negotiation for 2016-17, she has renewed hope for success before her children put her in a retirement facility.
50/50 Applause Award
There is still time to nominate for the the fifth annual50/50 Applause Award, which celebrates theatres which achieved gender parity among their produced playwrights in a given theatre season. You have until May 20 to nominate theatres which meet the criteria for the award. Artistic directors and theatre employees may self-nominate.produced playwrights in a given theatre season. You are encouraged to nominate any theatre which meets the criteria for the award, and artistic directors and theatre employees may self-nominate. Please share this information with your theatre friends around the world! Eligibility requirements for the award and our video on gender parity from ICWP member/Dramatists Guild board member Christine Toy Johnson are available at http://www.womenplaywrights.org/award
The 2015/16 Season awards will be announced in September 2016.
For more information about the award and previous recipients, go to http://www.womenplaywrights.org/50/50-Awards-History
It has been a particularly busy season for the ICWP board. Not only did we have our quarterly board meeting, but we also held our general-membership meeting and yearly elections. We welcomed new board members and officers.
Board members and officers for 2016-2017
Sophia Romma— President
New York, New York, USA
Patricia L. Morin—Vice President
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Rita Kniess Barkey— Treasurer
Xinzheng City, Henan Province, People’s Republic of China
Amy DrakeColumbus, Ohio, USA
Karin Diann WilliamsJersey City, New Jersey, USA
Through the board and general membership meetings, we have formulated potential plans and projects for the future. But your opinions are important to us, and we would like your input. We would appreciate if you would take a few minutes to complete this survey.
It would greatly assist us with our future endeavors to provide you with programs that help fit your playwriting needs.
ICWP board is conducting a survey in order to maximize our services to the ICWP membership. Our present services include:
The listserv—helps introduce us to each other, share opportunities, as well as present a forum for lively discussion on controversial issues: “The Count”—the low number of women in the theatre community; fees charged for submission of plays to theatres; how certain women’s roles are viewed by the audience, to name a few. Click to go to the listserve.
Information services—provides data on artists rights; samples for playwright contracts; “how to” documents (organize an event, publish and sell work, writing a good playwright resume, sample royalty statements), and more. Click to go to information services.
Professional Development—researches artists rights organizations, grant resources, frequently asked playwright questions, and The Theatre Research Institute (Dr. Alan Woods). Click to go to professional development.
Script Feedback—encourages members to share ten pages of their work with a small group of readers for feedback, coordinated by Nina Gooch.Click to go to script feedback.
Publications—published books through ICWP of plays for playwrights and actors. Click to go to publications.
Fifty-fifty awards—promotes recognition of theatres throughout the world that produce women plays fifty percent of the their season. Clcik to go to 50/50 awards.
Finally, the ICWP monthly newsletter—spotlights members of ICWP, introduces new members, and introduces articles on current events and discussions. Click to go to full version of the newsletter on the website
February Spotlight: Felicity McCall
by Suzanne Richardson
Felicity McCall was a career journalist who covered the Ireland conflict for BBC, now a fulltime writer, theatre producer, arts facilitator and occasional actor based in Derry and Donegal in Ireland. She is a founding member of Derry Writers and, most recently, Derry Literary Ladies. She is also the Ireland officer for the miscarriage of justice lobby group, Portia, and a cathaoirleach of the Irish Executive of the National Union of Journalists.
Felicity has received 2 Meyer Whitworth nominations, the Tyrone Guthhrie Award, 2 IPSG nominations, 3 Arts council awards, as well as Best Heritage Project from the Big Lottery for We Were Brothers, a cross community WW1 project in 2011, and in 2013 the all-Ireland Epic award for Every Bottle has a Story to Tell. Her portfolio includes over twenty published titles including nonfiction and young adult books, twelve plays for the professional stage, and four screenplay credits.
Also see http://www.walkingthefeminists.org
Q: When did you start playwrighting?
A: I have been writing all my life; I remember contributing to a version of Cinderella in Primary School and teaming up with a friend to write and perform sketches in my teens- we're working on a 1916 project together this year, for the first time in decades, which is lovely
Q: When you write, do you focus on developing characters first, or the plot?
A: In fiction, the characters always come first and once they come alive for me, the plot writes itself; with historically accurate writing, the research material defines both.
Q: What is your writing process like? Do you have any rituals?
A: I love the research process and will quite happily immerse myself in this for long periods; it never fails to be fascinating. The writing begins in my head and one day makes its way onto the screen in an extended, stream of consciousness, very rough draft then I'm fairly disciplined about the rewriting. Deadlines work for me, even self-imposed ones; I'm a journalist at heart. No real rituals except I know I must be difficult to be around as the writing takes over and while I'm writing there's a reluctance to return from the world I've created to everyday life.
Q: Where do you pull most of your inspiration from when creating characters?
A: With fact based drama the characters will be researched from as wide a range of sources as possible- letters are a great resource- and additional characters are often a composite of a number of different experiences, so they're emotionally honest. Otherwise, from constant observation of the drama that is everyday life; my notebooks are full of scraps of information, snatches of dialogue, anything idiosyncratic that appeals to my sense of the quirky. And I always sleep with a notebook beside the bed. Never underestimate the power of the subconscious!
Q: Do you have a favorite genre you like to write? (Comedy, drama, fantasy, etc.)
A: I love having a couple of contrasting projects on the go so that when I reach a stalemate with one I can step away from it and return with a more objective perspective; one fiction/ one nonfiction is always a good balance as on the days when creativity has fled, there's the research to work on. Favourite genre? Anything people centered and driven, and social issues; I'd aspire to have some of my work categorized as that of an artist activist as the arts are such a powerful tool for change and for giving a voice to the voiceless. Comedy must be the most challenging as humour is so individual- who dares to claim to be funny?
Q: What would you say was your most rewarding moment as a playwright or writer in general?
A: As a writer, the magical moment when an actor who 'gets' the character is on stage and it's exactly how the character has been sounding in my head. I'll never forget being in the audience at the opening of a play I produced with Derry's Street Drinking Community, Every Bottle Has a Story to Tell; effectively I was a conduit for a very marginalized, determined, committed group of writers and actors. Every performance played to a full house and standing ovation and it was humbling to be part of such a ground breaking and empowering piece of drama that went on to win major awards.
But the real joy was in their faces at the curtain call and the audience interaction afterwards- it was so emotional.
Q: What advice would you give women wanting to become Playwrights?
A: Do it. Now. Tell your own story. Accept that everyone gets rejections. Don't wait for a commission. Form your own theatre group and perform anywhere- community halls, pubs, cafes, the street, a church; it's all good experience. Make sure to build a reputation for professionalism. Network like crazy. Find the best writers group for you to give and receive constructive criticism and support. I've always found those at the top of their profession have nothing but support to offer aspiring and emerging writers; any back biting comes from those insecure in their own writing practice. And always believe your best work has yet to be written- so keep learning.
Welcome New Members
Kristin Jones – USA
Kristin Jones received her BFA in Acting from UC Santa Barbara and an MA in Playwriting from UCLA.
Sam Kumpe - United States
I've just written my first play and I'm addicted.
Evelyn Jean Pine – USA
Evelyn Jean Pine writes plays about the moment when you feel your life is brand new -- whether it is or not.
Representative Play Titles: The Secrets of the World, First, Astonishment, Walking the Starry Path
Sharon Studer – UK
Particular interest is serious drama; have had semi-staged reading of a 10 minute play and a professional production of a full length play.
Upcoming Annual Meeting
ICWP is a very special group. It is an international organization that exists only on-line and is staffed almost exclusively by volunteers. I hope you participate in the Annual Meeting which which takes place online in March. All members will receive an email about how to participate.
50/50 Applause Award
ICWP is gearing up for the next 50/50 Award which is now in its fifth year and is becoming one of our signature initiatives.
Articles of Interest
by Patricia Morin
More and more magazines and literary journals, as well as theatres, are asking for fees. I've been following this, not only with my mystery writing organizations, but now with playwrights.
JUST SAY NO PAYING FOR SUBMISSIONS
“Why Writers are Paying to get Published”
The Atlantic Magazine
Note from Patricia: Since all writers, no matter what their genre are being met with the same problems, I have added playwrights in parenthesis. The article does not do this.
It’s fall, the time of year when literary journals open their doors for new submissions. Around the country, writers are polishing poems, short stories, and essays (and plays) in hopes of getting published in those small-but-competitive journals devoted to good writing (and theatres devoted to good plays). Though I’ve published short stories in the past, I’m not submitting any this year, and if things continue the way they have been, I may stop writing them altogether. The reason, in a nutshell, is reading fees—also called submission or service fees—which many literary journals (and now theatres) charge those who want to be considered for publication. Writers pay a fee that usually ranges from $2 to $5—but sometimes goes as high as $25—and in return, the journal will either (most likely) reject or accept their submission and publish it. Even in the lucky case that a piece is published (produced), most journals don’t pay writers (including playwrights) for their work, making it a net loss either way.
AUTHORS CALL TO ACTION
Authors call for boycott on non-paying festivals
Published January 15, 2016
Prominent writers including Linda Grant, Denise Mina, Joanne Harris and Francesca Simon have responded to Philip Pullman's protest over the Oxford Literary Festival's failure to pay author fees by joining a call for publishers and fellow authors to boycott events with the same policy.
Pullman, who is president of the Society of Authors, has stepped down from his role as patron of the festival, saying it is a case of "simple justice" that authors should be paid for their appearances.
Now novelist and critic Amanda Craig has written an open letter to The Bookseller calling for all authors and publishers to boycott literary festivals that expect authors to work without a fee. "For too long, authors have been persuaded to give our services to the public for free - even though the public is paying in good faith to see us," she wrote. "We are the only people in festivals who are not paid, and yet without us the festivals could not exist. Writing is a vocation but it is also a profession, and it is time we all stiffened our spines, dug in our heels and said No."
Craig's letter has attracted immediate support from many other authors, with Linda Grant, Louisa Young, Denise Mina, Francis Wheen, Joanne Harris and Francesca Simon among those who have put their names to it. (Full letter below)
The fact that many literary festivals do not remunerate authors for appearances has been a long-running grievance among writers, with the Society of Authors currently campaigning on the issue and "working with them [festivals] to agree reasonable fees and best practice guidelines", as chief executive Nicola Solomon told The Bookseller earlier this month.
Novelist Robert Harris yesterday tweeted a response to Pullman's comments on his resignation, saying "So true! A few (insane) punters paid £50 for a front-row seat at my last event. I was given a mug, appropriately."
If you're a writer and want to add your signature to the petition, leave a comment on this piece.
Letter to The Bookseller:
Further to Philip Pullman's resignation from the Oxford Literary Festival, we would like to call for all authors and publishers to boycott literary festivals that expect authors to work for free. For too long, authors have been persuaded to give our services to the public for free - even though the public is paying in good faith to see us. We are the only people in festivals who are not paid, and yet without us the festivals could not exist. Writing is a vocation but it is also a profession, and it is time we all stiffened our spines, dug in our heels, and said No.
Should you wish to protest personally, to a theatre or contest asking for submission fees, a similar letter template used by ICWP members, written by Carolyn Gage regarding playwrights is available to download at the foot of the Members Area of the website.
Yours for innovative, engaging, and equitable theater,
501- c - 3 Non Profit Organization incorporated in the State of Ohio, USA
For general questions contact: Margaret McSeveney firstname.lastname@example.org
Board of Directors contact:Pat Morin, President email@example.com