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Centre Stage

A blog for women-related theatre issues worldwide.

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  • 10 Apr 2023 5:11 AM | Anonymous


     in Concord, MA March 31 – April 23, 2023


    hortense in tahiti

    Hortense is a playwright and anthropologist. She is the Director of the Anthropology, Performance, and Technology  (APT) Program at the University of California, San Diego and her works have been performed nationally and internationally, including: LaMama Experimental Theatre, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Boston, the International Performance Art Festival, the Performance Mix Festival, The Fence, and the Nuit Blanche Festival, Toronto

    For more information go to:

    Past  works of note

    THE MEDFIELD ANTHOLOGY – June 4, 5, and 11, 2020, produced by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) and the Cultural Alliance of Medfield on the video platform ZOOM during the Covid Pandemic.

    THE SAUNA PLAYS – March 20, 2020 produced by ARDNA in Oslo, Norway with funding from the Mass Cultural Council. This production was cancelled due to the Covid Pandemic.

    PAINLESS – June 18 – 30, 2021, produced by Speakeasy Stage as part of the Boston Project Resilience.

    GLACIAL INCANTATIONS for the Without Walls Festival produced by La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego on April 27- 30, 2023 

    THE HOUR BETWEEN DOG AND WOLF directed by Jessica Ernst and produced by Sleeping Weasel Theater as part of the Boston Theater Marathon on May 7, 2023.

    See the Author Online 


    Twitter - @hfgerardo

    Web page where plays can be found:

     Hortense was interviewed by Dr Jennifer Munday, Charles Sturt University, Australia.

  • 26 Feb 2023 8:30 AM | Anonymous

    This post references a brilliant and landmark article by Jenny Lyn Bader which appears on the WIT ( Women In Theatre website March 18, 2017 

    A Brief History of the Gender Parity Movement in Theatre by Jenny Lyn Bader

    In October 1978, the Feminist Theatre Study Group picketed five shows on London’s West End, handing out leaflets that began with a few questions. To wit,

    Did the characters in this play imply that:

    • Blondes are dumb?
    • Wives nag?
    • Feminists are frustrated?
    • Whores have hearts of gold?
    • Mothers-in-law interfere?
    • Lesbians are aggressive?
    • Intellectual women are frigid?
    • Women who enjoy sex are nymphomaniacs?
    • Older women are sexless?

    We are a group of theatre workers who are tired of portraying these cardboard cutouts. We want theatre managers, directors, and writers to stop producing plays which insult women.

    At that point, the group Action for Women in Theatre had looked at US theatres from 1969 to 1975, releasing a study that found that the number of female playwrights and directors working in regional and off-Broadway theatres was at 7 percent. Women were not merely getting insulted more than men, they were also getting hired a lot less. The two things were perhaps related.

    While the numbers have improved since then, the gender imbalance has continued to exist to the present day.

    The first known woman playwright: the tenth century German canoness Hrosvitha of Gandersheim. [Image]

    I myself became aware of it gradually and then suddenly. I remember the moment a consultant for a certain theatre suggested I apply for a playwriting fellowship designated for disadvantaged minorities because at that theatre, “women are considered a minority.” More profoundly, I remember a town hall meeting where discussion topics ranged from historical statistics to the public’s received image of a playwright as a “bad boy” or “angry young man.”

    We live in a world dominated by male imagination. Guys write 80 percent of produced plays and commit 80 percent of violent crimes, while the rest of us try to catch up with the former and avoid the latter.

    In case you missed the theatre industry’s gender parity movement, here’s a recap: women have been writing plays for millennia and landing productions for centuries. Over time they’ve also come to play key roles......

    Read the rest of the article on the WIT website

  • 22 Feb 2023 10:04 AM | Anonymous

    We hear excerpts from Deena’s first play “Triple Bypass” and discuss her upcoming second play “The Canonized Club.” 

    Deena lives in South Dakota, USA and is the Founder/Creative Director of Hardly Working Promotions, LLC

    Past works

    Triple Bypass: Three Ten Minute Plays About Living for Death & Dying for Life

    Upcoming works 

    The Canonized Club: The Curious Lives & Deaths of the Saints


    Facebook Page



    Find Deena's plays: 

  • 29 Sep 2022 6:14 AM | Anonymous

    Listen to an excerpt from Lou Beckett's audio play " Bletchley Girls".  Bletchley was the headquarters of the code-breakers unit trying to break the secret codes used by the enemy during WWII. 

    Based on a true story of two young women and their remarkable effort to crack some of the enemy’s toughest codes, Bletchley Girls follows an unlikely friendship between Mavis Lever and Margaret Rock. Pressure increases to decipher intercepts which will impact the course of the war, but it’s not all night shifts and Enigma machines; there are dances, pranks and even a little romance.

    Lou Beckett wrote for the stage until Covid lockdowns inspired the director of her play, Bletchley Girls, to turn it into a radio play and podcast. Since then, the allure of having a legacy for one’s work, as well as the continuing presence of Covid, has meant her subsequent plays have been created for radio/podcast.

    Lou’s other works include Rotten Luck, The Parrot, the Poet, and the Philanderer, and  Forbidden Music.

    Upcoming works:

    We Can’t Be, a new audio play, tells the story of two young women who decide their town needs a statue of a woman.

    Lou's  Online Pages


    Facebook Page  @loubeckett.playwright
    Twitter: @loubeckett4

    Instagram:  loubeckett_      

    Amazon Author page

    Buy the Audio On Audible


    ICWP Member URL

    Log in to leave a comment.

  • 14 Sep 2022 3:30 AM | Anonymous

    Carolyn Nur Wistrand, Assistant Professor of English and Drama Dillard University reviews 50 years of solo performing art in Nigerian Theatre 1966-2016 by Greg Mbajiorgu and Amanze Akpuda.

    Since the 1970s, Performance Art has championed site-specific artists conceptualizing singular visions as nontraditional theatre practitioners throughout the globe. The collective international rise of solo performances that utilize open spaces as diverse as street corners to shop windows has brought us revolutionary artists whose messages, offered to the people, are not for sale.

    Challenging and discarding many conventional theatre aesthetics, this minimalist theatre style began as a vehicle for agit-prop, in your face, performances to bring spectators into a raw engagement with the performer. 50 years of solo performing art in Nigerian Theatre 1966-2016, is the first anthology to provide an overview of this practice as it has developed in Nigeria. Edited by Greg Mbajiorgu and Amanze Akpuda, this important addition to the study of Performance Art includes over 30 essays from Nigerian scholars and theatre artists, providing a definitive and up-to-date study of solo performance in Nigeria.

    Organized in nine sections, the anthology begins with three essays from Moses Oludele Idowu, Emeka Nwabueze, and Chike Okoye that lay the historical foundations of Performance Art from a West African Cosmology. Chapter One, Idowu’s Words of Power, and the Power of Words: The Spoken Word as Medium of Vital Force in African Cosmology leads off the edition with an essay on spoken word that captures the mystical root of “The Word” in traditional African, Judeo-Christian, and Muslim religious belief systems, before narrowing in on Ase in Yoruba Cosmology. Nwabueze (Chapter 2) continues to trace the origins of Performance Art in his essay through a narrative on the traditional griot as storyteller and guardian of the people that would also be of interest to African American spoken word artists.

    Throughout American streets and college campuses, countless young “Neo-griots” rhyme and recite their poetry unaware of the African roots in their aesthetic. Okoye (Chapter 3) then takes us into sacred rituals surrounding Igbo masks/masquerade and the evolution in scholarly arguments that identify the Igbo Mask as an example of solo performance. The first three essays are vital in locating the foundation of Performance Art in Nigeria far beyond 20th century Western Avant-Garde theatre.             

    Section B targets “Meta-Theoretical, Comparative, Analytical, and Generic Studies” to pinpoint various approaches to the solo performer, from the American comedian Lily Tomlin to Greg Mbajiorgu. Unfortunately, this section falls short, losing an important opportunity to cross the Atlantic by not mentioning Ana Deavere Smith, whose one-woman performances (portraying over 30 characters in each performance) of Fires in the Mirror (1992), Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 (1994), and The Arizona Project (2008) have brought international acclaim to Solo Performance Art.

    Throughout the text references to numerous Western artists-Shakespeare, Jean-Paul Sartre, George Bernard Shaw, Mark Twain, Bertolt Brecht, and Virginia Woolf (to name a few) are made; to not include the foremost African American Performance Solo Artist, Ana Deavere Smith leaves Section B with a major omission that would have added dimension and scope.

    The Pioneer Nigerian Soloists: Betty Okotie, Tunji Sotimirin, and Funsho Alabi are captured in nine essays in Section C. Tracing the rise of solo performances and the issues in crafting a solo play, the essays consider how various pioneers in the discipline, Okotie, Sotimirin, Alabi, and Mbarjiogu have responded and claimed this theatrical genre in post-colonial Nigeria to give voice to their own creative force.

    Directing the Monodrama Script includes four essays that target real-world issues a director encounters working with a solo performer to flesh out authentic character/s.  This section provides a fascinating discussion of a director’s challenge in capturing the distinct physical, intellectual, and emotional nuances of each character that is brought to life on the stage through one performer (since a solo performer may take on numerous characters in his/her mono-drama).

    The transitions from and to each character are tackled in the direction and enhanced working with other theatre practitioners to mount a one-wo/man production. Section D is also a testament to the evolution of this art form as technical designers (lights, sound, set, and costumes) are considered to enhance the vision of the director.

    It is midway through the book that we are introduced to the creators of Nigerian Performance Art in Section E: Encountering Dramatists/Actor-Dramatists. This is one of the most important sections of the book, highlighting interviews with Tunji Sotimirin,  Greg Mbajiorgu, Tunde Awosanmi, Inua Ellams (arguably Nigeria’s most renowned performance artist in England), and Benedict Binebai. What makes these interviews so engaging is their universal appeal to theatre artists throughout the globe seeking to take risks and forge fresh vision as they create new works for the stage.

    Additionally, personal reflective essays by Akpos Adesi, “My Heritage as a Dramatist and My Monodrama Creations: Reflections and Benedict Binebai, “My Monodrama: The Vision and Philosophy” allow the reader deeper insight into the process by which individual theatre artists forge into the dramatic landscape of monodrama as technique and craft continue to evolve. These artistic statements offer a wealth of primary material for future theatre practitioners and scholars of theatre performance.

    Greg Mbajiorgu, (the editor whose original vision and dedication to monodrama brought this text into fruition), is prominently highlighted in Section F. Seven theatre scholars offer essays that seek to deconstruct Mbajiorgu’s theatre practices in his definitive piece, The Prime Minister’s Son, a modern sorrow song that takes the audience through the harrowing tale of a homeless and bereft young man.

    An examination of Mbajiorgu’s monodrama and his non-binary performance consider the layered subtexts he crafts to bring to the stage the consequences of war, sexual abuse, and shameful discarding of street children in this singular piece through dialogue, poetics, and music. Short excerpts from the play The Prime Minister’s Son are incorporated into the essays, although including the entire script in this section would provide added weight to the criticism.

    Incorporating essays on one singular play (moving dangerously close to a “vanity press” chapter by the editor) from seven scholars demands the reader have the opportunity to access the script under scrutiny. An additional section with a sampling of the major Dramatists works (Okotie, Sotimirin, Alabi, Mbajiorgu, Awosanmi, Ellams, and Binebai) would carry this volume to a wider audience.        

    Two essays on Inua Ellams’ work bringing magical realism to the stage through the voice of the outsider are highlighted in Section G, while Benedict Binebai, (who was interviewed and provided a personal essay in Section E) is considered in three distinct essays in Section H beginning with a discussion of Karina’s Cross and feminist aesthetics in Nigerian monodrama.  

    Chidi O. Nwankwo’s Chapter 38, Idiomaticity of Feminist Aesthetics in Binebai’s Karina’s Cross locates this piece as the first monodrama in Nigeria to incorporate feminine consciousness and empowerment.  Section I concludes this epic study with two essays by Kenneth Efakponana  and Emeka Aniago placing feminist theory at the forefront of their examinations of  Akpos Adesi’s “Whose Daughter Am I?” a one woman play originally staged by The Department of Theatre Arts at Niger Delta University in 2015.

    Eni considers how identity is presented in Adesi’s work (who defines the identity of the female gender-controls the identity of the female gender) as a major theme at the core of this one woman monodrama. Aniago goes on to consider the layers of victimhood in Adesi’s main character, Tarilayefa, who believes her descent into prostitution is the result of misery, poverty, and inequalities-blaming society as her oppressor.   

    The book concludes with short bios of all 36 scholars and theatre practitioners who contributed essays and conducted interviews. At 614 pages, this project is a monumental undertaking that began in 2015. Documenting in one volume the first practitioners in post-colonial Nigeria to create solo performance as a viable stage practice, makes this work, edited by Mbajiorgu and Akpuda, the foundation of all future studies in solo performing art in Nigeria.

    Since none of the monodramas were included in this book, a second volume that provides the major works in one anthology is recommended. This edition should not be confined to Nigeria. 50 Years of Solo Performing Art in Nigerian Theatre 1966-2016 widens the discussion of this innovative art practice to Solo Performance Artists, scholars, and students of African Drama throughout the globe.

    Reviewer: Carolyn Nur Wistrand, Assistant Professor of English and Drama Dillard University, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

    Mbajiorgu, Greg and Akpuda, Amanze. 50 years of solo performing art in Nigerian Theatre 1966-2016. Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria: Kraft Books Limited, 2018. ISBN: 978-978-918-514-6.

  • 17 Jul 2022 3:53 PM | Anonymous

    Jenni Munday interviews Kari Ann Owen and Kari reads from two of her works.

    Kari Ann Owen is a Missoula, MT playwright. She discusses her comedy routine about Dr. Fauci’s loving lost-lost brother in the Mafia, and her play, Fighting It!, about courageous men and women during the New York Covid Pandemic lockdown. Her plays are published and produced in the USA.

    Examples of past works:
    “Bernie Madoff in Hell”, San Francisco Fringe Festival
    “Modern Life”, a series of one act plays about a disabled computer scientist and his service dog,, and their conquest of prejudice, produced and awarded playwrighting and directors’ prize at Dominical University, San Rafael, CA.



    Log in to leave a Comment about this post. 

  • 11 Jun 2022 11:47 AM | Anonymous

    “Necessity is the mother of invention.”  ... Plato

    Digitalization of theater has evolved with advancing technology and the need to bring theater to a wider audience. The original intent to record the event for posterity, as with the video recorded plays of Sacha Guitry, in the 1930s, when talking films were a new art form.

    Before Covid, some theater companies began using digitalization to create an interactive experience with a live audience. Belgium’s Ontroerend Goed theater company gave patrons hand-held devices to “vote” during a show about democracy (When theatre goes digital | The Space) Some theaters posted Twitter comments projected on a backdrop during performances to involve the audience in the show in real time.

    As Covid closed theaters, presenting theater on Zoom became a necessity to reach any audience at all. For playwrights, Zoom readings, and even semi-staged shows from separate locations, became the primary vehicle to stay active and connect with a remote audience. It was not ideal, but it was the best solution t keep theater going during the crisis, for theater gets its energy from the interacting between actor and audience and from the shared experience between audience members. A hybrid of remote performance with a live audience is in cinema broadcasts of actors performing as a group to an empty house provided part of the solution addressing half of the equation—the audience has a shared experience with each other, but not with the performers who are spurred on by audience engagement.

    During the pandemic, viewing theater on the screen of a device from any comfortable location served the valuable purpose of creating a vehicle for theater makers to maintain an audience. Now, we have an opportunity to take the tricks we have learned from producing works for online viewing to incorporate digitalization in promoting and staging theater for live and remote audiences.

    Amy Drake 

  • 10 Jun 2022 7:04 PM | Anonymous

    Gender-based violence against women and girls globally has become critical in the last decade. Many women experiencing violence in communities around the world are beginning to recognize what situations they are in and demand safety and better living conditions.

    Women still struggle to combat cultural practices, religious beliefs and social norms that promote gender-based violence against women such as domestic/intimate partner violence, sexual violence, harmful traditional practices and child marriage.

    Following the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, women around the world experienced a spike in gender-based violence. Following the lock-down rules in many countries in global north and global south, many women were forced to live at home, restricted to staying with abusive spouses, partners and family members.

    In countries across Africa, women majorly suffered domestic and sexual violence. Many other women suffered economic violence, psychological abuse and an increase in harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation. Seeking justice for women in this situation was almost impossible because of the restrictions on work and movement. Alternative solutions and interventions were being sought out to support women facing violence.

    Photo -- Play on domestic violence and storytelling for women in Nigeria (2021)

    During this time, women were only able to get support through theatre, plays of playwrights and play-reading sessions within local communities. In Nigeria for instance, these plays portrayed women going through violence, condemned cultural practices and religious beliefs inconsistent with good conscience and provided options for interventions to women experiencing violence in local communities. The use of plays created a spotlight on the already existing pandemic of gender-based violence against women. Non-governmental organizations, Civil society organizations and Community-based organizations engaged playwrights to produce gender-based violence prevention related content for women in local communities. Due to restrictions on movement, taking these plays to local communities became a powerful tool for women experiencing violence to find their voices and decide to seek justice for themselves. During these plays and play-readings, members of the media, law enforcement agencies, lawyers, doctors and social workers were invited to provide immediate response to women facing violence. Women have been empowered by these plays to find their place in society and speak against stakeholders, government agencies, traditional and religious leaders in their communities who promote violence.

    Photo --Play-reading and storytelling of domestic violence in Nigeria (May, 2021)

    The use of theatre, plays and play-readings has evolved to empowering local communities as a method of community engagement with community members, stakeholders and leaders to educate them on prevention and response techniques to gender-based violence for women and girls of all ages. The heat of the COVID-19 pandemic is over and as communities globally continue to find normalcy in their daily activities, theatre, plays and play-reading have found a permanent place in providing support for women and girls facing gender-based violence.

    Wuraoluwa Soibi Ayodele

  • 10 Jun 2022 6:33 PM | Anonymous

    During COVID, Resonance Works in Pittsburgh – a company known for making opera and choral work accessible to the general public – began a project called the Decameron Opera Coalition (DOC). Resonance’s Artistic Director, Maria Sensi Sellner, was the point person for opera companies whose values included art-for-all initiatives and wanted to continue to reach wider audiences during the pandemic. I was asked by Sellner to write the libretto for one of their short operas by Composer Justine F. Chen. What I learned through that process changed my mind about how we make and present opera.

    Chin and I created a 13-minute opera titled LETTER TO OUR CHILDREN which explore the unsung heroes in our lives, and it streamed on the DOC site from September 2021-May 2022.

    Instead of staging the piece like a traditional opera on a stage with singers in formal attire, we shot a music video in the style of popular videos you’d see on VH1, MTV, or YouTube. The singer was poised on a bridge overlooking the city of Pittsburgh, as she sang, and we cut between her and images of everyday heroes in action. Heroes that we spotlight include teachers, stay-at-home caregivers, and first responders.

    This fresh combination of operatic sound and everyday images shot in a pop music video-style attracted thousands of viewers. The DOC commissioned 13 short operas during the height of the pandemic with similar results. The Company received feedback that viewers who were not comfortable going to the opera house, did enjoy watching the music videos of the operas. They liked and connected with English language opera that told stories they could related to, and would be willing to watch more of them. This is a tremendous finding, especially given that many in opera believe that it is dying due to lack of interest from today’s audiences. Perhaps, it is not lack of interest, but a failure to evolve in form and style with other contemporary forms, that is causing the drop in opera’s audience numbers.

    Learn more about the DOC and other digital theatre activity “outside the proscenium” with me at this year’s digital LMDA Conference which is focused on these new types of art-making: I will be hosting a Conversation with Maria Sensi Sellner online in which will delve into how they created the project, what they learned, and how they will be moving forward into a digital future.

    Jacqueline Goldfinger

  • 06 Feb 2022 7:11 AM | Anonymous
    Sharon Wallace is a past President of ICWP, The International Centre for Women Playwrights. She reads from her play 1967: A Life of its Own.

    " I was inspired to write the play from a short story based on a personal reflection from my childhood memory of the 1967 Riot in Detroit, Michigan. 

    I decided to build characters within the riot setting and develop a story within the conflict of the riot.

    My first experience with playwriting began as an adolescent adapting a story to a play.

    Many years later, studying acting at the National Black Theatre in Harlem, New York, I got into playwriting. I collaborated with my fellow actors to write a play titled "Ouch Outrageous Love."

    However, years later, I committed to the genre of playwriting when I completed my first play, 1967: A Life of its Own, as the creative component of a master's degree. "

    Sharon's other works

    Inheritance, In Search of a Woman, PushCart Evening, Without Skin, 2646 West Grand, My Passions and the Practical Self, Locations Unknown, White Socks

    Upcoming works
    Children's Books
    Marching to See a King, A Mustard Seed of Faith

    Long Way Home, Twilight Hours, Out of the Lions Paw

    Twitter  @Sharruth4
    Instagram sharonwallace9051
    ICWP Member Directory

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