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Centre Stage

A blog for women-related theatre issues worldwide.



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  • 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, dot.com, and their conquest of prejudice, produced and awarded playwrighting and directors’ prize at Dominical University, San Rafael, CA.

    Websites
    https://wildhorse.sparkdisk.com/

    THEATRE ENGAGE

    https://kariannowenandtheatreengage.vpweb.com/

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  • 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: https://lmda.org/2022-conference 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

    www.jacquelinegoldfinger.com

  • 04 Jan 2022 12:10 PM | Anonymous
    Joanna Pickering tells the wonderful and uplifting pandemic story about how she moved from the USA to Paris, France and ended up with a showcase of her plays being produced in Paris in December 2021. 
  • 06 Dec 2021 5:53 PM | Anonymous

    After being displaced from my home in NYC in the pandemic, when theatre went dark, I was miraculously awarded a one-year writing residency in Los Angeles. In July, when the residency ended, I decided to travel to Europe to see my family after almost two years of separation.

    I knew, as a Brit and European living in the USA, with the borders still closed, I would be locking myself out of my work and life in the US, as an immigrant.

    UPDATE - Joanna talks about how all this came about in the Centre stage Podcast 

    However, spending time with family was my priority. It was therefore, with incredible delight, that I was taken under the wing of leading literary agent Wendy Goldman Rohm, who had awarded one of my one act plays a scholarship in Paris, in 2019. Wendy, kindly, invited me to her summer retreat workshops in Paris and Biarritz, offering to be my agent on my screenplay, and to work on a novel. In this way,

    I met so many literary artistic souls, who encouraged me to read my plays in salons at Wendy’s house. Wendy suggested I bring them to stage in Paris. This is how this passion pandemic project began. I started to put the word out, and soon, fabulously, experienced thespians and directors, from the Paris literary theater community were reading my work.

    They were praising the writing and they wanted to be involved, despite the logistics and unusual circumstances. In the same way, my finance arrived. Then we had a church. Then I was upgraded to theater space in the heart of Paris. Then I had my amazing actors. It just kept growing from there... My dream to write and perform in Paris was coming true...

    I still didn't believe it was possible (and working as a producer myself). I made a call to The League of Professional Theatre women and the ICWP and they started networking across the pond. Then, all the way over in NY (Barrow Group FAB women) producer Christine Cirker, knowing the plays from the USA showcase, jumped in and said, it absolutely wasn’t impossible (it was).

    I was also, fortunate to have my co-producer Koël Purie Rinchet and Hollywood talent Eugenia Kumina flying in from LA (to read a small role just to be part of my writing). They all made connections (often over the pond) right into the Paris theatre community -- the exact people I needed to know, vouching on my behalf that this had to happen.

    Then, the miracle that is super director Chris Mack arrived. Chris is connected and revered, by the entire Paris English Theatre community. I tend to go for all female directors for my themes, but he sent me his scripts (all written for strong women) and he understood my work and vision, so exactly, and in ways I was yet to experience, especially on 'Cat And Mouse," which is the bravest piece I have written.

    I don't want to write in black and white areas. I want to explore areas that other's are afraid to explore. I think that is our duty as writers, but it's not easy when tacking difficult subject matter (sexual allegations and assault), not to mention current times. The direction of that piece is as crucial as the writing. Every person in Paris replied on my news to have him direct (not only my work, but me, and as a film actress predominately), “You’re in the best of hands.” And, I am. It's a wonderful feeling for my work, it’s themes, and me as a writer.

    Then, I had the magnificent, director Pulchérie Gadmer, who got my work instantly, as a dark British playwright. She has worked on Sarah Kane’s work and came with all these 100% unique ideas, (which I do not want to spoil -- so come and see the show). And then, Alessia Siniscalchi joined -- who worked with all my peers in NY and The Brave New Theatre Company/New School. Alessia is an absolute force to be reckoned with as a director. We are all -- cast and producers -- a little in awe of her directing style.

    It was such a welcoming experience in Paris from US. Even the Parisian thespians and directors who read the work, or auditioned, and sadly, could not make the final line up, mainly due to schedule (or mom's who were sick or in hospital -- hope she's doing okay if you're reading) praised the work and I was flooded with more encouragement. They instantly passed it on to another, forming this magnificent Parisian theatre chain to get my work to stage for me. It was awesome. I am so grateful. It is now a project that grew from the problems of the pandemic into something much bigger than us and carried us on.

    It is a very humbling time for me and lots of crazy hard work. And that's not to say I haven’t made mistakes along the way as a producer, but I love that feeling too, as it means you’re learning new skills. All my team know, at the end of the day it’s about the writing, the plays. I hold the utmost respect for those who bring my words to life. I’ve met so many wonderful people through my writing work all over the world. That’s a gift to me. This is the dream. And anyone who knows me, I never stop.

    We are now in full rehearsals and the work is finally taking a wonderful shape. The impossible just became possible.  

    I can't wait to share it with everyone.

    Link to Ticket Office , Dates and times [ https://www.womenplaywrights.org/marquee/12158525

    Featured in Broadway World 


  • 12 Sep 2021 7:05 PM | Anonymous

    Annie Lanzillotto reads her story  Twelve Rabbis Went to a Party, and talks with Jenni Munday about her story writing and performing, and how she is helping herself and others cope with the COVID pandemic.

    Annie Rachele Lanzillotto is a New York poet, performance artist, actor, director, playwright, songwriter, who has promoted audience participation in hundreds of performances everywhere from street corner mailboxes, to Bronx butcher shops, to the Guggenheim Museum. She is the Artistic Director of StreetCry. Find out more about her on her website.

  • 01 Sep 2021 4:30 AM | Anonymous

    My Creativity SECRETS

    By Travel Journalist/Playwright/Artist Sharon Baker

        Every creative female has her Secrets. Don’t you?  

    Most of mine are darker and scarier than you’d ever guess. But surviving the terrible pandemic/lockdown launched this Light bulb moment: why keep all my creative secrets locked inside my Pandora’s Box?

        So, dear Friends, read on.

    THE CREATIVE TEEN, 1967

          “Sharon is exceptionally creative,” my high school guidance counselor enthused. “Aren’t you so proud of her many accomplishments, Mrs. Spence?”

           “She’s lead Soprano in choir,” my mother beamed. “And VP of Yearbook and Photo Clubs.  You got mostly straight A’s, right hon?”

            Mamma winced. “Except for that D in calculus…. But she’s going to be A Writer!!!! Did you know Sharon wrote the sweetest story about adopting our dog Hoodie?”

            I wear my best Mona Lisa smile, staying oh so very silent.

            How’d I adopt a puppy, you wonder?  I was disobedient at age ten. Despite Mamma’s warning to “NEVER EVER LEAVE THE FRONT YARD”, I happily followed an energetic little beagle out my front yard, across the six- lane highway, uphill to the dangerous guns/drugs/hooker neighborhood and picked him right up.

            A snarky teen in a green bikini and red stilettos (I would kill for) snarled, “He’s mine.” But I grabbed beagle’s tail.

          “No,” I insisted. “Hoodie just wandered out of our house.” Before we started scratching each other’s eyes out, a shiny black police car arrived, flashing a beautiful cherry light.

             “Your hysterical mother has sent out a countywide notice:  a girl named Sharon ran away from home,” the police office said. “Would that be you, miss?

    Bikini Babe ran away, sobbing.

              “Meet my new puppy,” I declared triumphantly. “His name is Hoodie.”

                That nice policeman smiled, and gave Hoodie and me a wonderful ride home. Mamma was sobbing at our front door.

                First I got a butt smack. Then a bear hug. Mamma was so happy to see me not dead; she let me keep that naughty dog.

                So I wrote a pack of lies story on  “How I Rescued Hoodie”. That essay got me an A in English and a full ride scholarship to Northwestern University Journalism/Theatre in Chicago. Every Christmas I visited Hoodie, thanking him for keeping Our secret.

    THE CREATIVE YOUNG WOMAN, 1980

               Remember just starting your career? Of course you tell prospective employers everything you’re good at. Since I was masterful at making stuff up, I mailed resumes to 500 international magazines.

               “I’m a brave, confidant, adventurous, globetrotting travel writer,” my cover letter lied.  “To get a fantastic travel story, I’ll go anywhere, do anything.”

                Over the next fifteen years, editors that had never been outside asked me to write about really scary things. Outside.

               Dalu Lama Pakace Imagine scaredy cat me kayaking with orca killer whales off Vancouver Island. Swimming with giant whale sharks off Cancun. Climbing to 15,000 feet in Peru. Riding Thai elephants in mosquito infested jungle. Wading Trinidad’s rivers teeming with boa constrictors. Diving with hungry hammerhead sharks off Palau.

              The scariest? Freezing on a Polar Rover bus in icy Churchill Canada, whereupon a 12- foot snarling polar bear almost snatched me out the bus window for his lunch. My essay, “A Polar Bear in my Window” and my YouTube video, “Hey Mr. Polar Bear” were global sensations. But no one cared I was nearly devoured. Not one bit.            

                The more danger I was in, the more assignments I got. I would cry to my Editors how terrified I was, how I hated being cold, hot, lost, starving. Their response? “Good Sharon. Keep Writing.” Over fifteen years, I published 300 travel essays and 5 guidebooks.

                   I found out: Once you’re a creative liar, no one believes when you tell the Truth. 

    THE CREATIVE SENIOR CITIZEN

                   So now that I’m 68 years YOUNG, spending languid days with my golfer husband Kenny, my one eyed cat Sage, and a pack of fun loving gal pals, am I still creative?

                    No….. Yes……

                    No-I can easily while away a whole day watering flowers. Or Swiffering the entire house. Or ambling through a grocery store:  should buy chicken fingers for our gourmet dinner or get take out from Chick Fil-A?

                    Yes-I’m writing comedy stage plays inspired by my global adventures and pitching theaters worldwide. I’m enjoying books by authors who have secrets waaaaaay darker and scarier than me.

                   The great part? Everything I write now can be a Big Fat Lie.

                   It’s called Fiction.

                   I’m just the same creative girl I always was.

    THE END

    © September, 2021

    Sharon Baker writes happily in Bluffton, SC.

    Her stage play comedy about the meaning of life, “Birthday Party at the Dalai Lama’s Palace,” was presented on ZOOM in 2020 by the Dramatists Guild of America.  Some of it is True.

    Email her: sharonspencelieb@gmail.com 

    Sharon’s travel essays and books are on Google, under Sharon Spence Lieb.

    Her 4 plays, under Sharon Baker, are on New Play Exchange.

    Laugh over her YouTube polar bear music video, “Hey Mr. Polar Bear by Sharon Spence Lieb.”

    She exhibits her wildlife paintings at Hilton Head Art League, South Carolina. 

  • 05 Jul 2021 9:38 AM | Anonymous
    Laura reads an excerpt from her play " Punk Grandpa" and discusses the writing of the play and how she began writing plays.


  • 27 May 2021 7:09 PM | Anonymous

    Christine reads from, and then talks about three of her plays:  Dying in Pittsburgh, Fragments of A Witches' Journal, and Old Hippie.

    Christine Emmert is an actress, playwright and director as well as enthusiastic fan of theatre. Living in the woodlands of eastern Pennsylvania with her husband Richard, she has been in the theatre world for over sixty years.

    Her work has been performed and read through out the English speaking world. She will be filming her one woman play, FROM OUT THE FIERY FURNACE, next month for the National Parks.

    This piece has been presented as a story of one woman and her stove to bring attention to the ironworking industry that flourished in the 1800s throughout the Northeastern part of the United States. You can read her occasional blog on
    chrisitneemmert.wordpress.com or access her on dakinichris@yahoo.com

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christine.emmert.54

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