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January 2016 Newsletter

31 Jan 2016 7:43 PM | Mona Curtis

This month's issue is on the topic of volunteerism and features outgoing ICWP Treasurer Suzanne Rakow and the woman who has graciously offered to take her place, playwright Rita Barkey.

January Spotlight: Suzanne Rakow

by Suzanne Richardson

Suzanne Rakow's serving eight years as ICWP treasurer was significant in itself.  I was especially intrigued when I found out that she is not even a playwright, just an avid reader and supporter of women playwrights.  It got me thinking about volunteerism and why many women, including myself ,volunteer.

Welcome New Treasurer:  Rita Barkey

Q: Congratulations on becoming ICWP's new treasurer! What are you most looking forward to taking over this role?

A: Carrying on the fine work that Suzanne Rakow did before me.

 Q: How did you learn about ICWP? What inspired you to volunteer?

A: It was pure serendipity. Paddy Gillard-Bentley (Flush Ink Productions) put out a call for scripts, and when I read that she loved to see ICWP membership on resumes, I checked out the ICWP website. I may not have submitted a script that day--but I did become a Sister/Mister! In 2013, I became an active member when volunteers were sought to help research theaters for the 50/50 Applause Awards. I can read German, so I thought that might be useful.

Q: What would you say was your most rewarding moment volunteering for ICWP?

A: Watching the 50/50 Applause Awards video and knowing that I participated in the research that helped make it happen.

 Q: Do you volunteer anywhere outside of ICWP? How do you feel volunteering has impacted your work, if at all?

A: I currently volunteer at the local food bank. I’m not sure if volunteering has impacted my work directly, but it helps keeps me connected to the world.

 Q: When did you become a playwright?

A: I started writing plays in my 20s. I’d taken poetry workshops as an undergraduate, but because my poems were dialogue driven, I suspected I might be a dramatist at heart. When my plays began to be produced at the Bloomington Playwrights Project (an Indiana nonprofit dedicated to new plays), I knew I’d found an artistic home. I started to volunteer behind the scenes because I believed in its mission, and eventually I became the literary manager as well as its treasurer. Years later, when the ICWP Board sought a new treasurer, I knew I had experience to offer.

Q: What is your writing process like? Do you have any rituals?

A: No rituals to speak of beyond a mug of coffee and “bum glue.” My plays usually begin with a vision of a scene, and the questions follow: Who are these people? What are they doing? And why? Then I write a LOT of drafts. Recently I’ve been writing some historical plays in connection with 365 Women A Year: A Playwriting Project, so I’ve had my share of researching to do as well.

Q: What advice would you give to a young woman just starting out as a playwright?

A: Go to the theater. Read plays. And get involved. I’m not an extrovert, but theater is at its heart a communal act.  It requires reaching out. For example, when I moved to Montana, I signed up for The Missoula Colony--a two-week conference dedicated to the craft of plays. When I met the other writers, I found out that they, too, were wondering if we could workshop year round. And so the Zoola Playwrights collective was born. Why not? Let’s just do it. That’s at the heart of volunteerism.

 ICWP Opportunities

The International Centre for Women Playwrights has a volunteer program that affords members (and some non-members) the opportunity to participate in committees, do independent research, assist with the operations of the organization and be creative. If you are interested in volunteering for ICWP, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Elana Gartner, at

Articles of Interest
by Patricia Morin & Elana Gartner
Why Do Women Volunteer? 

People volunteer to develop new skills, to build networks (social or work), to feel useful and remain active. There are a few others but those are the top ones.

Susan Ellis, volunteer management guru, says the question of why people volunteer is not simple.

"Education is the single best predictor of volunteering. People with a Bachelor's Degree or higher volunteer the most, 42.8%,  compared to those with an Associate's Degree, 27.7%, those with a High School Diploma, 16.7%, and  those with less that a High School Diploma, 9%."

Women volunteer more than men, but not by much.  (Men 22.2%, Women 28.4%)

Yours for innovative, engaging, and equitable theater,

Mona Curtis
Newsletter Editor

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