This Week in Feminist Theater (1/24-1/30)


The Women Behind Brecht
You often hear, ‘Behind every great man there’s a great woman,’ but in Bertolt Brecht’s case, there were actually three! Rehearsing Failure, a new play with music premiering in Minneapolis at Theatre Novi Most, explores the stories of three key women behind Brecht’s success – his wife, Helene Weigel, and two of his former lovers, writer Elisabeth Hauptmann and director Ruth Berlau. Rehearsing Failure takes place in the summer of 1947, with Brecht and his women, the lot of whom fled Nazi Germany and moved to Hollywood during World War II, living together commune-style and rehearsing “The Life of Galileo” before the playwright’s testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities during the McCarthy hearings.

According to director Lisa Channer, who is also co-artistic director of Theatre Novi Most and a professor at University of Minnesota, “Brecht worked with remarkably intelligent and gifted women. They gave a great deal of their ideas to him and were not compensated for it, although Hauptman wrote about 80 percent of ‘Threepenny Opera’ and she was ultimately credited. Most of Brecht’s collaborators were women and most of them were his lovers, so it was complicated.”

You can read more about the production here and here.

Sexuality Deferred…It’s Time for Another Narrative.
Another fierce piece of dramatic criticism by local writer Lily Janiak was just published in SF Weekly and ends with this awesome battle cry to playwrights: Go raise some feminist hell.” Reading this article (85% of which I agree with), I realized that the “theatrical déjà vu” she describes having experienced recently on Bay Area stages with regards to the trope of repressed women may have become so familiar to me, that I barely even notice it anymore! I’m still just happy to see women onstage, even if they are living inside of well-trodden dramatic stories. Maybe I’ve become stuck in a kind of theatrical Ground Hog Day, in which hearing Nora’s door slam repeated over and over seems unremarkable. Kudos to Lily for demanding more from our theater now.

Another quote from the article: “American theater is shining the Bat Signal for playwrights to once again be seers, for theater companies to look beyond escape narratives and seek, champion, and produce stories about women that don’t simply show them in situations we can all agree they should get the hell out of.” Yes!


Loud and Unladylike Reading Festival
Loud and Unladylike, presented by DIVAfest, is taking submissions for new works for the 2016 festival until February 15, 2015. In addition to quality of submissions, they will consider the appeal and interest of the subject, in order to create a more diverse and wide-ranging festival, bringing to life the neglected stories of real women who made history.  Loud and Unladylike is open to all Bay Area playwrights who identify as female. The selected play will receive development, two staged readings, and publication in EXIT press. See complete submission details here.

Shows to See
Late: A Cowboy Song
by Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Ariel Craft
Produced by Custom Made Theatre Co.
Featuring Maria Leigh, Brian Martin, and Lauren Preston
A poetic look at love and gender when a lady cowboy enters the life of a young Pittsburgh couple.
Runs thru February 1st, Ashby Stage (check out the WWSF post about the show)

by Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Jeffrey Lo
Produced by Palo Alto Players
Featuring Sarah Moser, Wes Gabrillo, Monica Cappuccini, Monica Ho, Maureen O’Neill, Evan Schumacher, and Scott Solomon
A timeless Greek myth becomes poetry in motion in this Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize nominee.
Runs thru February 1st, Lucie Stern Theatre

The Cable Car Nymphomaniac
By Kristen Guenther (librettist) and Tony Asaro (composer/lyricist)
Directed by Terry Berliner
Produced by FOGG Theatre
Featuring Rinabeth Apostol, Courtney Merrell, David Naughton, Hayley Lovgren, Carey McCray, Steven Ennis, Alex Rodriguez
A racy and uproarious new musical taking a hard and hilarious look at gender roles.
Runs thru February 8th, Z Below

By Larissa Fasthorse
Directed by Ann Brebner and Jeanette Harrison
Dramaturgy by Duca Knezevic
Produced by AlterTheater
Featuring Michael J. Asberry, Nick Garcia, Patricia Silver, and Emilie Talbot
A new play about the heart of downtown
Runs thru February 1st in San Rafael, AlterTheater
Runs February 5th thru 16th in San Francisco, ACT Costume Shop
* Join WWSF Meetup Group in seeing this show on Sunday February 15th at 2pm!

By Julie Hébert
Directed by Jon Tracy
Produced by SF Playhouse
Featuring Susi Damilano, Cathleen Riddley, Tristan Cunningham, Carl Lumbly with scenic design by Nina Ball
This regional premiere is the story of three generations divided by race, culture and time.
Runs thru March 7th, SF Playhouse

Images: courtesy and

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