Week of 4/7 : Noteworthy News & Shows to See

Ama_Wallpaper_1024x768New Cirque du Soleil Show at Citi Field Celebrates Women

Cirque du Soleil’s newest show, “Amaluna,” celebrates women with top female circus performers as the main stars. Plus, it has a top female theater director at its helm, and Tony Award winner Diane Paulus is definitely bringing some new tricks to the big top.”

About the show, from Cirque du Soleil: “Amaluna invites the audience to a mysterious island governed by Goddesses and guided by the cycles of the moon.

Their queen, Prospera, directs her daughter’s coming-of-age ceremony in a rite that honours femininity, renewal, rebirth and balance which marks the passing of these insights and values from one generation to the next.

In the wake of a storm caused by Prospera, a group of young men lands on the island, triggering an epic, emotional story of love between Prospera’s daughter and a brave young suitor. But theirs is a love that will be put to the test. The couple must face numerous demanding trials and overcome daunting setbacks before they can achieve mutual trust, faith and harmony.”

TBA Conference Continues the Gender Parity Conversation

For the past 5 months, about 25 Bay Area theater professionals of all stripes have been meeting once a month at the Theatre Bay Area offices to discuss the problem of lack of gender parity in theater.  So far, the group has had in-depth discussions about the problem and causes of gender disparity, and there are plans for the Gender Parity Advisory Committee to continue meeting until at least the end of 2014 with the goal of developing some specific initiative and actions that TBA can undertake to move the dial on gender parity in Bay Area theater.

The Gender Parity Advisory Committee has also developed the content for two break-out sessions in the upcoming Theatre Bay Area annual conference on April 14th at Berkeley Repertory Theatre.  Anyone who has a stake in this issues or in related representation issues is invited to attend the conference and participate in these sessions. You can register for the conference here. Final descriptions are still being word-smithed, but here is the basic info:

Being Agents of Change: Advocacy Tools & Representation Strategies for Individual Artists, 11:30 a.m.  – 12:45 p.m.

Do you ever feel like you don’t see enough people like you onstage? Are you concerned about what stories are over and under-represented in theatre? Do you struggle with trying to figure out how to have an impact as an individual on social issues in our field? Hosted by TBA’s Gender Parity Advisory Committee, this roundtable discussion and interactive workshop will explore specific tools and strategies that individual artists can use to advocate for equal representation in theatre. With a focus on effective activist tactics that have emerged out of the Gender Parity Movement, panelists will share details about specific efforts they have undertaken to redress their own representation concerns and consider how such personal actions might be further developed and applied more broadly to other social justice issues in theatre.  Every participant will also have a chance to share their personal stories and representation concerns in small groups.

Moderated by: Christine Young

Panelists: Velina Brown, Eugenie Chan, Rebecca Ennals, Martha Richards, Valerie Weak

Successful Strategies for Putting More Women Onstage, 1:45 – 3:00 p.m.

A pragmatic discussion and demonstration with artistic directors and key staff from three diverse theatre companies about effective strategies for increasing stage opportunities for women.

Moderated by: Kirsten Brandt, Associate Artistic Director, San Jose Rep

Panelists: Chloe Bronzan, Patrick Dooley, Rebecca Ennals, Cindy Im, Rami Margron, Susannah Martin

Female Directors On Broadway Are Becoming A Common Sight

There are currently 8 women directing shows on Broadway!  One of them is director Anna D. Shapiro, who is currently staging John Steinbeck’s classic 1937 novel Of Mice and Men in collaboration with James Franco. Shapiro is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and a veteran of Steppenwolf.  She gained national attention by directing the original productions of Tracy Lett’s August, Osage County (2008 Pulitzer Prize winner) both at Steppenwolf and on Broadway.  Of her Broadway success, Shapiro says “I know sexism is a serious problem, but I haven’t experienced a whole lot of it. I think there might even be a little benefit being a woman now, as a kind of minority that people want to help.”

We Exist & The New Definition of Women Writers

“Several weeks ago at a gathering of Washington DC theater critics and artistic directors called “The Summit” a furor was started over the lack of work by women playwrights at major American theaters. Asked to explain the reason for this well established low representation of plays by women, one artist director explained that there just aren’t enough talented women playwrights in the pipeline, and that it will take at least a decade to fix the problem. Outrage ensued, and rightfully so. It was an inane explanation, and one that is insulting to thousands of women playwrights who face real, institutional barriers to having their work produced,” writes David Marcus in this informative article for The Federalist. This outrage produced the open-source Google document We Exist which currently documents over 1200 female and trans* playwrights. Marcus goes on to question the conflation of the two gender categories into one list and raises some interesting questions. But first and foremost, WWSF wants to offer a giant thank you! to the individuals who compiled this amazing resource.

You can see a summary of the twitter feed which produced some of the first critiques of the views expressed by artistic leaders at The Summit here.

BABA: One-Woman Show at Alter Theater

BABA, by Denmo Ibrahim, is “a touching and funny story of the American dream, told through the eyes of an Egyptian immigrant to New York and his American-born daughter”. This one-woman show has both the male and female characters played by Denmo herself.

Denmo holds an MFA in Actor-Created Physical Theatre from Naropa University and a BFA in Acting from Boston University. She has performed for A.C.T, Aurora Theatre, Huntington Theatre, and the Vineyard Playhouse to name a few.  Denmo has been nominated for an Irene Ryan Acting Award and a Joseph Jefferson Award for “Best Actress in a Lead Role”. As a playwright, she was the winner of the 2011 Highlight Series produced by Noor Theatre and New York Theatre Workshop and was selected as an Honoree for the Middle East Initiative Award. She is a founding Artistic Director of Mugwumpin, an award-winning performance group based in San Francisco.

Image Courtesy: Cirque du Soleil

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