This Week in Feminist Theater (5/16-5/22)


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

Shakespeare’s Year of the Woman
In his recent article, San Francisco Chronicle theater critic Rob Hurwitt notes that “the intensifying battle for theatrical gender parity has come to the Shakespeare festivals” and he offers a comprehensive list of summer Shakespeare productions.  Hurwitt also notes that several local companies are creating more opportunities for women artists to engage with Shakespeare’s work, including Santa Cruz Shakespeare (Artistic Director Mike Ryan has hired a repertory company that is 50% men and 50% women) and California Shakespeare Theatre (which will present Twelfth Night featuring a nearly all-female cast).)  Women will also be directing many of the summer Shakespeare productions.  Look out particularly for Rebecca J. Ennals’ production of Romeo & Juliet for SF Shakespeare.

Tina Packer Publishes Women of Will
A founder of Shakespeare and Co., Tina Packer is widely known as an outstanding  performer and teacher of Shakespeare’s plays.  Along with fellow British actor Nigel Gore, Packer developed and extensively toured the two-handed show Women of Will, which showcases Shakespeare’s women in key scenes from 25 plays.  Speaking of the significance of these female roles, Packer says, “there may be only three or four women in each Shakespeare play, but they are the key to how to transform a society. They are the teachers and the leaders in a new way of thinking about relationships, hierarchies and love. They have the focus and energy to counterbalance the authority of the 10 to 30 men who inhabit each play.”  In her recently published book, also called Women of Will, Packer offers her opinions about the true inspiration for Shakespeare’s complex and powerful female characters – an influential relationship she believes Shakespeare had with a woman commonly referred to as the “Dark Lady.”  You can order a copy of Packer’s book here and discover for yourself the possible connections between a woman described as a “musician, poet, and one of the first women to declare herself a feminist” and the Western canon’s most celebrated playwright.

Women pen only 31% of UK New Plays
The British Theatre Consortium has released a comprehensive report examining the UK theatre sector during the 2013 season.  Key findings include the fact that for the first time in British theatre history, productions of new plays outpaced revivals and classics. However, in keeping with trends observed in the US, Canada, and Australia, only 31% of those new plays were written by female playwrights.  BTC ReportThe report also noted that “compared to new works written by men, these plays were performed in theatres that are 24% smaller, programmed for 69% fewer performances and tickets priced 23% lower. Female playwrights are best represented in the subsidised theatre sector, and there is significant regional variation in the gender imbalance.”  Both the significant disparity in production opportunities for female playwrights and the tendency for plays written by women to be more often produced in less resourced theater spaces are findings that were echoed in the recently released Not Even study of San Francisco/Bay Area theaters.


SF Sex Worker Soliloquies
The 9th annual Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival took place May 15th-24th in various locations around San Francisco.  One theatrical component of the festival was an ensemble work based on solo performances developed through Sangria Red’s Solo Workshop.  Participating artists were well known virtuosos in this genre of performance work, offering diverse approaches ranging from burlesque to classic performance art.

Shows to See
Heart Shaped Nebula (WWSF MEETUP!)
Written by Marisela Treviño Orta
Directed by Desdemona Chiang
Featuring Gisela Feied, Marilet Martinez, and Hugo Carbajal
Produced by Shotgun Players
An exploration of the mysteries of the universe and the human heart.
Runs thru June 14th, Ashby Stage
* Join the WWSF Meetup group and see the show on Friday, June 12th for a discounted rate!

Hookman (LAST CHANCE!)
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
*If you saw the show, please leave a comment!

Whoa-Man! A Musical (LAST CHANCE!)
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

Exit, Pursued by a Bear
By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Steve Boyle
Featuring Sara Renee Morris, Max Sorg, Laura Espino, Jacob Marker
Produced by City Lights Theater
Can an night of reenacted scenes from their past save the marriage of Nan and her abusive husband?
Runs thru June 14th, City Lights Theater

The Yellow Wallpaper
Adapted by Gary Graves from novel by Charlotte Perkins Gillman
Directed by Jan Zvaifler
Featuring Elena Wright and Cybèle D’Ambrosio
Produced by Central Works
A haunting tale of a Victorian woman’s descent into madness, adapted from the classic short story.
Runs thru June 21st, Berkeley City Club

Twelfth Night
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Christopher Moore
Featuring Julie Eccles, Lisa Anne Porter, Catherine Castellanos, Margo Hall, Domenique Lozano, Rami Margron, Stacy Ross and Ted Deasy
Produced by California Shakespeare Theatre
Shakespeare’s comic masterpiece of mistaken identity.
Runs thru June 21st, Bruns Ampitheatre

5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche
Written by Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood
Produced by Tides Theatre
Outrageous feminist comedy set in Cold War Era
Runs thru July 11th, Tides Theatre

Images: Hamlet at Theater Unbound (Photo: Ryan Sanderson); British Theatre Repertoire 2013 Report Graphic; artists Jovelyn Richards (aka Sangria Red)

One response to “This Week in Feminist Theater (5/16-5/22)

  1. I saw Yellow Wallpaper yesterday – it’s a great piece for the Berkeley City Club space, and Elena Wright is fantastic! I also want to echo Christine’s endorsement of Rebecca Ennals and SF Shakespeare (full disclosure: I’m playing Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet) because of her public commitment to casting women and actors of color, which she wrote about so thoughtfully in 2013 in the SF Shakespeare Festival blog:

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