This Week in Feminist Theater (5/2-5/8)

Celebrate Mother’s Day on May 10th by seeing some feminist theater!


Miss Shakespeare & J. Caesar
Vancouver-based company The Escape Artists is presenting world-premieres of two all-female productions. Miss Shakespeare, billed as a saucy new musical, was written by co-artistic director Tracy Power and tells the story of Judith (Shakespeare’s youngest daughter) as she follows in her father’s footsteps and writes plays for the Elizabethan stage.  Power wrote the play because she “wanted to create something that could live in a Shakespeare festival, that would be the ‘powerhouse show’ for women, because there aren’t as many great roles for women as there are for men in the Bard’s work.”  Miss Shakespeare will run in rep with J. Caesar, a lean 60-minute adaptation of Shakespeare’s play set in 2415, when most of the male population has been wiped out. May 5-29, Kay Meek Centre, Vancouver.

Magic Theatre’s Got Next!
Last month I facilitated a round-table session at the TBA Annual Conference called “Who’s Got Next?” for which I interviewed Shotgun Players artistic leaders and company members about the process of choosing their 2015 all-female playwrights season.  The hope was that Shotgun’s example might inspire other Bay Area companies to similarly program future seasons featuring female playwrights.  I don’t think Magic Theatre Artistic Director Loretta Greco was in the audience that day, but clearly she’s been listening to the rising tide of voices calling for more representation for female theater artists!

San Francisco’s Magic Theatre has just announced an all-female 2015-2016 season featuring works by Penelope Skinner, Tanya Barfield, Jessica Hagedorn, and two new plays by Mfoniso Udofia.  As Rob Hurwitt notes in his brief 5/7/15 article (the only information available so far about the season), several of the plays are regional premieres and the range of artistic styles represented is both broad and adventurous.

When I asked Shotgun Players Managing Director Liz Lisle if the all-female season seemed to be impacting the box office, she said that Shotgun had sold more season subscriptions that ever this year.  I hope Magic Theatre will experience a similar uptick in sales and realize that it pays to program women’s work!

A Rehearsal Room of Their Own
ows_143092944377306As Virginia Woolf noted, a woman needs a room of her own and a purse that produces 20 pound notes in order to have the mental clarity needed to write her masterworks.  The Mellon Foundation is currently providing two female playwrights in Minneapolis the modern equivalent of Woolf’s recipe for artistic success.  Kira Obolensky and Aditi Kapil are two of fourteen playwrights who have received three-year theatrical residencies complete with salaries and benefits courtesy of the Mellon Foundation.  Obolensky has been in residency at Ten Thousand Things, a socially-focused theater company helmed by Michelle Hensley (check out Hensley’s excellent new book All The Lights On about the company’s history and working methods.) Kapil is in residency at Mixed Blood Theatre, known as a multi-racial company devoted to cultural pluralism.  ows_143092945463455It is exciting to think about the new works these two artists may have enough time and space to craft and also about the ways they may positively impact the companies they are partnered with because of the Mellon Foundation’s financial support.  If we truly want to impact gender parity in theater, we need more foundations like Mellon to step up and commit financial resources to developing women artists’ capacity to produce their best work. You can learn more about the details of these residencies by reading Howlround posts written by Minneapolis Playwrights’ Center Associate Artistic Director Hayley Finn here and here.

Female Playwrights Retreat
Beaufield Berry, a Nebraska-based playwright, is launching a nationwide retreat for female playwrights called “The Wild Dreamer.”  The retreat will take place 9/17-9/20 in upstate New York and offer “a three day working respite for busy women writers.” The retreat includes workshops led by award-winning playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer, performances, play development, and outdoor activities.

ICWP Seeking Nominations for 50/50 Applause Award
The International Centre for Women Playwrights is accepting nominations for the fourth 50/50 Applause Award which will honor theaters that produced a 2014/2015 season with an equal or greater number of plays written by female playwrights. Anyone can nominate a theater using an online submission form until May 22.  Read full details and guidelines here.

18th Annual Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival
thThis year’s Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival will feature playwrights Leanna Brodie, Dipika Guha, Karen Hartman, Julie Marie Myatt, Suzanne Vega, and Lauren Yee. Each playwright will be paired with a dramaturg during a two-week residency at the Whidbey Island writers retreat culminating in public presentations of excerpts from their latest plays on May 17th & 18th at ACT in Seattle.

From Broadway World: “Participation in the Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival is by invitation in collaboration with partner theatres from around the country. In recognition of the fact that fewer than 20% of the plays produced each year on US stages are written by women, Hedgebrook is partnering with theatres who show their commitment to women playwrights through commissions, development, and production opportunities. In this way, Hedgebrook forges opportunities for women playwrights to deepen their relationships with theatres and is becoming a major pipeline for plays by women to move from creation to development and production. Current partners include: ACT Theatre, Denver Theatre Center, the Goodman Theatre, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, and the Shakespeare’s Sister Fellowship.”

Shows to See

Femme Fatale
Written by Carte Blanche
Produced by Shotgun Players
The best sex scandal of the last 24 hours! Come take a selfie with France’s ultimate seducer.
Runs May 8th & 9th, Ashby Stage

Rocked by Women
Choreographed by Sarah Bush
Composed by Julie Wolf
Directed by Becca Wolf
Produced by Sarah Bush Dance Project
The story of a woman’s journey of growing up, coming out, falling in love and experiencing heartbreak during the Women’s Music Movement.
Runs May 9th & 10th, Malonga Casquelourd Center (Oakland)

The Way West
Written by Mona Mansour
Directed by Hayley Finn
Featuring Anne Darragh, Stacy Ross, and Rosie Hallett
Produced by Marin Theatre Company
A family of women in the Central Valley face down challenges with pluck, positivity, and pioneer spirit
Runs thru May 10th, Marin Theatre Company

Black Virgins Are Not For Hipsters
Written and performed by Echo Brown
Directed by David Ford
Produced by The Marsh
Echo Brown is about to lose her virginity to a hipster she met on Craigslist
Runs thru May 16th, The Marsh

Trailer Park Gods
Written by Nayia Kuvetakis
Directed by Emma Nicholls
Featuring  Amanda Farbstein, Sarah Nowicki, Paul Rodrigues, Michelle Navarrete, Alison Quin, David Levine
Produced by FaultLine Theater
Persephone of the Central Valley
Runs thru May 16th, Piano Fight 

Best of Playground
Written by Rachel Bublitz, Genne Murphy, Erin Marie Panttaja, Kirk Shimano, Steven Westdahl, Davern Wright
Produced by Playground
A fully-produced program of six short plays
Runs thru May 24th, Thick House

Written by Lauren Yee
Directed by Becca Wolf
Featuring Taylor Jones, Devin O’Brien, Jessica Kynn Carroll, Katharine Chin, Sarah Matthes, and Aily Roper
Produced by ZSpace
In this existential slasher comedy, Lexi learns what it means to grow up—and it’s not pretty.
Runs thru May 30th, Z Below
*Join the WWSF Meetup group and see the show for a discounted rate on Thursday, May 14th at 7pm.

Whoa-Man! A Musical
Created by Maya Lane and Cast
Produced and Performed by Fou Fou Ha
A cartoon cabaret about the hilarious yet touching experiences of four women looking for love.
Runs thru May 30th, Shelton Theater

Hella Love Oakland
Written by Robin Lynn Rodriguez
Directed by Rebecca Novick
Featuring Lizzie Calogero, Safiya Fredericks, Lisa Morse
Produced by Playground
Can a conscientious mother choose between raising awareness and raising her kids?
Runs thru June 13th, Thick House

This Week in Feminist Theater is a news round-up curated by Christine Young (creator of WWSF). If you have news or shows to see that should be included please send details to

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