Member Spotlight: Sandra Dempsey
by Thoko Zulu
Award winning internationally acclaimed playwright and performer, Sandra Dempsey is a Canadian playwright who has written full length dramas including "Flying to Glory" featuring boyhood pals enlisting in the Royal Canadian Air force and "Enigma" which examines sexuality, moral dilemmas and consequences associated with assisted suicide. "Barbie & Ken" is listed as one of her comedies, the synopsis being the world's cutest but anatomically incorrect couple who are proud parents.
Sandra has a keen sense of formidable wit writing complex narratives articulating richly drawn and emotional characters. This puts her at the top of her game and making her a popular reader for her book, "D' Arcy." Thomas D'Arcy McGee was an Irish patriot and Canadian statesman assassinated by Irish-American Finnians.
Dempsey's work also includes humanitarian and detective stories which not only maps intelligent story execution but also outstanding knowledge about wartime history, aviation and military expressions.
Her "Armagideon" has attracted very big reviews citing her work as 'provoking in the most powerful and positive sense' by John Murrell. Urjo Kareda lamented it is a very strong, striking piece which creates and sustains a world beyond experience with conviction and horror. Another follower of Sandra's work mentions the storyline, characterization and situation in "Armagideon" draws the audience into the play with a deliciousness which keeps one off balance. Sharon Pollock adds, "It is strange, violent and nutty...intriguing."
Proudly of Irish descent, Sandra Dempsey is an artist deserving a huge following by both seasoned and emerging playwrights who can benefit from the valuable industry advice given in this interview.
Q - What memories do you have of your childhood and how you became a writer?
A - I am proudly of Irish blood, youngest of twelve (3 sisters, 8 brothers), and even though that sounds like a pre-made gaggle o' companions, I spent most of my time very comfortably in my own world, and observing, always observing. I relished playing on my own in our huge double-lot backyard, driving my tricycle as a city bus, encountering scores of imaginary people on my routes. My oldest brother was twenty-seven years old when I was born, my Ma spent some nine years of her life in a state of pregnancy, and we had a vile alcoholic father from whom we all scattered like cockroaches upon approach. This latter element was likely the cause of the important imprinting of 'man's inhumanity to man' upon my psyche. As these factors all presented themselves, I early on determined that I would never marry, never have children, and I would continue to luxuriate in my independence for the rest of my life. I literally can still see my pre-school self, standing by the back stairs off the kitchen, by the tea towel rack, actually quietly vowing my future to myself. Writing and creating followed, though it really wasn't so much a conscious choice as predetermination, and I just knew I was meant for the theatre, acting and writing.
To keep things exciting, I have always had scatter-shot interests with the passion for self-sufficiency, so I take my own bio photos, maintain my own website, dabble in photography, will fly in any aircraft any time, positively love driving, and still try to ride horseback when I can. But always, always, I continue to observe and file away scenes and thoughts and snippets until they are ready to present themselves in my writing.
Q - You write drama, comedy and poetry. Most playwrights find it difficult if not impossible to effectively execute more than one genre. Where do you draw inspiration to do all three and which one is most difficult to write?
A - Perhaps the trick is not knowing what I'm doing. I do not profess to have a clue about any genre. Characters, dialogue, themes, and plots all just roll about in my head until they formulate themselves and are ready to come out. They are born of their own genetics, their own formatting, and I have little to do with it. However, I do believe that humor is to be found in most things, welcomed or otherwise, and it should be embraced, especially as it will always highlight the colors of the drama around it. Curiously, I have a piece entitled "Inhumanitarianism" which is a sort of hybrid between a short play and poetry - I see and hear it on the page, feel it in the flesh, and watch it unfold both ways. Whatever the work, it is always characters who present themselves in my head, and either I let them tell me what they have to say, or sometimes I will give them a story to tell. On some rare occasions, I will give them an event or an experience which actually happened to me and allow them to make the story their own, to tell in their own words. It's a secret pleasure knowing which of my pieces have been generated from my own life, and, because I am not the one directly speaking, they become solely those of my characters. No one genre is more difficult - again, if you don't know what you're doing, it can't be difficult - and again, the work just comes out in the form it is meant to be; I have little to do with it.
Q - Who is your target audience and which play has been your memorable showcase?
A - I really don't write for anyone specifically. The characters and content of my writing are just what they are, and whether or not an audience finds it all of interest or entertainment, well, I can't control that. I really don't/don't wish to pander to any group or cause. "Flying to Glory" and "Wings to Victory" inclusive of "D’Arcy" are all history-based dramas, but that is but one element of their being. It is the characters and their journeys that are the hearts of the pieces, and the historical circumstance is but a bonus - military/history audiences might appreciate the latter, but if the drama's heart does not beat, the audience might just as well read a textbook. And while "Armagideon" is a cautionary tale about the horrors of nuclear annihilation, it is 70-year-old women and their disturbing choices that catch up the real emotions, which in turn drives any messaging. All the universalities will always boil down to their effect, their effect on individuals, and that is in essence how I go about telling my stories. Of course, I am genetically wired to speak to/for/about women, but I think my male characters have truth to them, also.
I must confess I am just vain enough to think that my most rewarding showcases have been via readings of my own work. I positively love performing my stuff before an audience, feeling the exhilaration when they're teetering on the fence-top of 'what is this woman doing?' and then feeling the sheer joy of them falling into my arms when they instead are engaged and enveloped by entire characters brought to life before them. I especially love it as my work can shape itself, a bit cat-like, in and around, and moving an audience's emotional response from laughter to actual tears. And I did really enjoy presenting a reading of scenes from "Flying to Glory" to a visiting squadron of British Royal Air Force aircrews. Afterwards, all the handsome young flight-suited lads lined up like excited little boys, pulled out their Canadian money and bought signed copies to stash in their Tornado fighters to fly back to the UK.
Q - What kind of artistic challenges have you tackled as a female Canadian playwright and how did you resolve them?
A - At this point in my life, hell...probably at every point but I care not a flying fur-ball as to who thinks what of my work. I really don't. I walked out of a 4-year university acting programme because I thought the instructors/administrations were all a whack-a-doodle bunch of misogynist idiots (actually, most of the women in my year also walked, and have all been working since) I have such low opinions of most of the male species that they have become something of a non-factor. And when I do inevitably encounter them, be it a director or an actor or a playwright, my conviction is further strengthened and I just move on. From an actor grasping at snippets of action movies in his vacuous head as he tried in vain to get a handle on Nathan in "Armagideon," or the director who jumped right in with him in the sudden male bonding of two guys sharing movies' awesomeness, I simply haven't the time or life to begin to try to enlighten them, and I just move on. Ironically, it is often the women in the audience who can see past all these nonsensical misinterpretations and grasp the true impact of the scene or piece, and that in itself is very rewarding.
Q - What is the status of Canadian theatre and women support structure?
A - I'm not really qualified to answer this. As far as I'm concerned, theatre here, as it is most places, is and sadly probably always will be male, male, male - male A.D.s hiring male directors selecting male playwrights with predominately male casts. Organizations and even governments attempt to fulfill their token obligations at support and funding etc, but really, I think we're all on our own.
Q - What kind of social issues/stories are of interest to you and why?
A - Primarily 'man's inhumanity to man' is the catalyst for my writing. It seems there are no ends to the unbelievably horrifying things to which we humans continually subject one another. My duty as a playwright is not so much to proselytize about the generalities of a sweeping issue, but to bring it down to its impact upon the life of the individual.
Q - Do you think women have reached a level where they can hold their own against their male counterparts in story execution? If no, how can we be more competitive?
A - Of course they have and of course they can, and do. But it is and sadly probably always will be male, male, male - male A.D.s hiring male directors selecting male playwrights with predominately male casts.
Q - I see your work maps intelligent execution and knowledge about history, aviation and military idioms which is uncommon to most female playwrights. How did this knowledge come about?
A - This is organic in origin. With all those brothers, I've always been interested in non-traditional-girlie things. I grew up with baskets of hand-me-down Dinky Toy cars, and G.I. Joe's (not a Barbie in sight) - and I've always been vain enough to think there was little I couldn't do, if I just took the time to figure it out. And after some years and provinces apart, when I re-connected with my oldest brother, he had just earned his private pilot's license. I had been wanting to write about World War II, but hadn't decided on which service, and I thought, of course, if I explore flying, I'll have something to share with my brother. So I went for a ride in an old WWII warplane - and I was instantly hooked. And it wasn't just boring straight-and-level flying, but *aerobatics* in the 60+ year old bird. We did loops, rolls, cuban-8s, inverted - and because I did *not* throw up, the pilot let me 'take the stick' and it was pure ecstasy. I returned as often as I could afford the hefty cost, on various vintage aircraft, doing more tricks, pulling more Gs, and even landing and taking off myself. I have no capacity for science or mathematics, so while I do have good hands and good instincts for flying, I could never in a month of Sundays pass my pilot's license. Turns out another of my brothers is plane-crazy too, so that's another wonderful connection.
Q - Which work presented the most difficult technicalities to produce in terms of venue, props, costume, lighting, etc.?
A - My work is character-driven, so there aren't many challenges for these technicalities. Both "Flying to Glory" and "Wings to Victory" obviously involve World War II aircraft, however their representation may be anything from literal, as in actual vintage aircraft in a hangar staging, to stylize. But the biggest consideration, which I even mention in the notes of the published play, is that the sounds of the aircraft must be historically true, out of respect for the play and for the history of the subject - having a giant four-engine Halifax bomber emitting the sounds of a little modern-day Cessna doesn't cut it. Jessie in "Enigma" is ill with severe rheumatoid arthritis - the actual hospital room setting can be literal or interpretive, but the actor's realistic portrayal of the specific aspects of her debilitating disease is imperative to the character and the story. Technically, I have a bit of an affinity for monologues, and using parallel - and in pieces such as "Casualties" or Shirley's monologue in "Flying to Glory." As she speaks, I can actually hear the snapping of the white sheets in the wind on the clothes-line and smell the faint scent of bleach. This could be the result of far too much time left to my own devices, but it's how my brain functions and how I present my craft.
Q - Would you change your profession if you were given an opportunity to choose another career?
A - No. Though I would love to do more writing and more voice work. But I would change my health if I could. I have had severe lung and bone disease (and on continuous oxygen) for most of my life, and had a bout with the big C. I thank god for my Canada's incredible healthcare not burdening me with impossible debts, but still the constant state of ill-health has made it extremely difficult to create to my potential or to earn any sort of decent living from writing or even supplemental jobs. In 2018 I will meet the lung transplant team. No lamentations; it's just a fact of life, but one I wish I never had to negotiate. But if I were physically able, I'm just vain enough to think I could do just about anything, if I wanted to do it.
Q - Please give advice to emerging writers dealing with industry related rejection or failure or delayed profits.
A - Above all, I would trust your own instincts. Rightly or wrongly, at least at the end of the day you will have followed your own heart, and that is reward itself. There are a very, very few people whose opinions I trust and respect or whose counsel I will seek when it comes to my writing - barely a handful, all others are but noise I choose to block. 'Arseholes do vex me' is a bit of a mantra, especially in response to rejections. And if there is any criticism attached, I will read it, assess it, and, if I deem it worthless, I will dismiss it and move on. I would advise others to do the same, especially women writers in receipt of 'advice' from males.
I have encountered many artists, writers and even a musician, who are utterly devoid of soul in their work. That is not a condition to which I will ever aspire, into which hopefully I will ever allow myself to fall. I may make the wrong choices, but so long as I have the passion of my convictions and follow the dictates of my heart, my soul will be strong and pulsing with life. Write about what catches your conscience, write it completely, and write again.
Q - Which play best describes how you want to go down in history?
A - I'm at a loss on this one. I'd probably assign that writing task to 'Cubby Caley' the cat, who has a better credit rating than I, and probably more creative artistry in his left paw than I...
Welcome New Members
ICWP awards a 6-month organizational membership to recipients of the 50/50 Applause Award.
Storycraft Studio, USA
Dreamcatcher Repertory Theater, USA
Plan-B Theatre Company, USA
Ruth Zamoyta, USA
Ruth Zamoyta is an emerging playwright. She has an academic background in English literature, including dramatic works, and she has published several poems, poetry anthologies, and a novel. Her day job is Development & Communications Director for New Jersey Theatre Alliance, the service organization for the state’s 31 Equity producing theatres. Before joining the Alliance in 2014, Ms. Zamoyta worked in communications and project management in the executive offices at Columbia University, and as an independent strategy consultant.
Ms. Zamoyta’s publications include the online novel email@example.com, published in 2001 by classic novels.com; ‘Otsu’ and Other Poems, self-published in 2006; Eating Her Wedding Dress: An Anthology of Clothing Poems, which she co-edited and was published by Ragged Sky in 2009; and Blanket Stories, a poetry anthology published by Ragged Sky in 2014, which she co-edited and which is based on a multi-disciplinary work of collaborative art orchestrated by Richard Jochum. Her poems were published in the aforementioned anthologies, as well as in Dark as a Hazel Eye: Coffee & Chocolate Poems, Ragged Sky 2016; and American Narrative Poetry, Fall 2015. She has also written articles for Howlround, a knowledge commons for the theatre industry; and over 25 cover and feature stories for architectural trade magazines;
Ms. Zamoyta holds an MS in strategic communications from Columbia University, an MA in English from New York University, and a BA summa cum laude from St. John’s University. She is a trustee of Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit, NJ, and was recipient of the 2010 Cynthia Carter Memorial Cup, granted by US Fencing to the top-ranked female épéeist over 40. She considers herself equally from New York City and the Adirondack Park, and currently resides with a teenager, a cat, and a few struggling houseplants in northern New Jersey.
Representative Play Titles: The Caregivers; The Fencers; The Lovers; The Friends
Ashley Lara, UK
Ashley Lara’s plays include Economy Class (10x10 Festival Play Festival at Old Joint Stock Theatre in Birmingham, UK), Author (Playwrights’ Workshop at George Cadbury Theatre in Birmingham, UK), and The Cruller Twist (High Stakes Theater Short Play Festival at The Kraine Theatre in New York City). Awards include Poetry Slam Winner at 2012 Birmingham UK Book Festival, and Best Short Play for The Cruller Twist at High Stakes Theater Short Play Festival. Other works have been presented Naked Angels’ Tuesdays at 9, Upright Citizen’s Brigade (NYC), and The Barrow Group’s First Fridays. She is currently a featured artist for High Stakes Theater Company. She has also been featured in The New York Times and TimeOut NY for her work with She Makes Me Laugh, a monthly all-female comedy showcase at the People’s Improv Theatre (PIT). Ashley Lara holds a Master of Research in Playwriting Studies from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.
Grace Epstein, USA
As a Associate Professor at the University of Cincinnati, I teach drama, literature, and film. I have published scholarly articles, poems, fiction and plays in a variety of journals, online and off. Several of my plays have been staged around the country in college and professional venues.
Ren Katherine Powell, Norway
Poet, playwright, translator and theater teaching artist.
American-born, settled in/nationalised citizen of Norway.
Angela J. Davis, USA
Angela J. Davis is the author of The Spanish Prayer Book, a Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center - National Playwrights Conference semi-finalist, PlayPenn top-12 finalist, Julie Harris top-5 finalist, HRC Showcase finalist, FutureFest top-6 finalist, and SETC new-play award first alternate winner, among other honors. Angela's play, The Czar's Daughters, was a 2017 Pittsburgh New Works Festival finalist (scoring 98 and 94 from the evaluating judges) and is slated, along with another of Angela's plays, Charlotte, for the 365 Women a Year playwriting project. Recent work has been presented, or is forthcoming, at the Hollywood Court Theatre, The Dayton Playhouse, The Road Theatre Company - SPF8, the Pittsburgh Original Works series, and The Blank Theatre Living Room Series. Her writing has appeared in numerous national publications, including a University of Iowa Press anthology, and she has received a Pushcart Prize nomination. Angela studied comparative literature at Stanford and lives and writes in Los Angeles, where she is also a practicing attorney, an adjunct professor at Southwestern Law School (formerly at USC Law School), and the creator of an award-winning multi-media program on elimination of bias in courtroom environments.
Eva Moon, USA
Eva Moon has been writing and performing her original music and theatrical works around the Pacific Northwest since 2002. Her original musical shows include 7 Deadly Sins and Me which had a nine-month run in Seattle, My Perfect Life and Other Delusions, The Deal With It Cabaret and The Mutant Diaries: Unzipping My Genes, which has been produced multiple times across the US and UK and has a filmed version out on DVD and Amazon Streaming Video.
First You Jump, a surreal and darkly comic musical play in which five very different characters face extraordinary choices that will change their lives irrevocably, has had partial productions in London, Chicago and Louisville, and mounted its first full staging in January, 2015.
Her latest play is The Home for Dead Fairytale Mothers. Everyone knows about the wicked stepmothers, but this one-act introduces audiences to the original First Wives Club.
Eva is also an optioned screenwriter and a regular contributor to Huffington Post.
Representative Play Titles
First You Jump, The Home for Dead Fairytale Mothers
Sithokozile Zulu, Zimbabwe
My purposes manifest as a self-invented, inspired artist whose products have earned recognition both locally and internationally. Art flows naturally in my veins and I have a dream that sees me contributing significantly towards the growth and development of my country and the region at large. My ultimate goal is growth as an artist through international collaborations and further training refining my creative production techniques to open more opportunities for professional growth.
Now Playing & Coming Soon
If you have a play or a reading between January 1 – January 31, please email Amy (firstname.lastname@example.org) before December 15 and it will be featured in the NOW PLAYING column of the January newsletter. Any play or reading in February will appear in the COMING SOON column.
God Bless Phyllis Schlafly by Amy Drake, Jan. 26-28, 2018, Columbus (OH) Conservative Theater Festival, The Shedd Theater, Columbus, OH For more information visit http://conservativefestivaloh.com/
Queen Marie by Shirley Barrie, directed by Rosemary Doyle, will be produced at the Alumnae Theatre in Toronto, April 13 - 28, 2018 as the finale of the theatre's 100th anniversary season. Visit www.alumnaetheatre.com for ticket information.
Revelation by Shirley Barrie, will be produced in Shifting Spaces, a program of 3 one-act plays by Those Women Productions at Live Oak Theatre, Berkeley CA from March 23 - April 8, 2018 http://www.liveoaktheater.org/
Letter from the Editor
I have thoroughly enjoyed doing the newsletter for the past five years or more. However I am starting an online graphic design company and there is a very steep learning curve so I have to cut back in other areas. Each section of the newsletter is spearheaded by a Board Member. The responsibility of the new Newsletter Editor is to format all the information and images into a template on the administrative side of the ICWP website, a valuable and transferable skill. In fact, many of my skills in graphic design I have learned by doing the newsletter and other volunteer work for ICWP. (Click on the link at the very bottom of this page.) If you like design and technology, this is an exciting opportunity. I will stay on board to mentor the next editor.
Yours for innovative, engaging, and equitable theater.
The image used in this newsletter is the work of Engin Akyurt taken in Siem Reap, a province in northwestern Cambodia and downloaded from Pixabay on December 1, 2017.
September 2017 Newsletter
Member Spotlight: Kari Ann Owen
“I am sixty eight years old now, writing as I did when I was twelve at a time of approaching nuclear war. The call to courage is, must be, just as strong for creative artists as it was then: the informed conscience and the empathetic soul may be the only thing holding back the might of the generals and their “leaders”.
Kari Ann Owen
Acting and singing at an early age combined with writing to make me a dedicated playwright at a young age. My first play concerned religious rebellion by a young girl in medieval times.
While an undergraduate at New York University, I began writing a play about domestic terrorism in an effort to understand our government’s lunacy in Vietnam and the concurrent lunacy of “home grown” terrorists bombing our school and also blowing themselves up while preparing to bomb a nearby military base. The name of the play is “Circle of Silence”, and portrayed the consequences of parental rejection and emotional isolation on one young girl.
Thirty years later, autobiographies began to appear, and it turned out I had perhaps been prescient: the sixties terrorists had survived a parent’s suicide attempt, among other horrors. This particular future domestic terrorist had discovered her mother’s head in the oven at age nine. Early unresolved grief ran like a wide thread through the lives of several of the bombers, as well as emotional explosiveness, sexual sadism (men and women) and a deep urge to be violent.
I felt their frustration with our murderous government, participated in demonstrations, and had a deep personal identification with the Vietnamese (especially the children) under our B-52 bombers: the private school my sister and I attended had been directly under a double commercial plane collision in December 1960.
War, therefore, has always been a very personal matter to me.
I kept writing, completed my Bachelor of Arts at New York University and also won the Academy of American Poets Prize, given by my university department.
The wonderful master’s creative writing program at San Francisco State University helped me develop a wide canvas of concern which (I hope) was accompanied by fluid yet disciplined technique. I spent months writing a sequence of poems about the decline and fall of Rome with very recognizable contemporary allusions.
I have been able to produce my plays in San Francisco and Berkeley, and my play about Vietnam and the CIA won an award from the American Theatre Association. Fortunately, I have been able to combine serious modern dance studies with playwriting. “Terms of Surrender” concerns a gay male couple, a choreographer in New York and his lover in the early stages of AIDS in California. The dance segments occur in a hospice room and on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
I thank God that I have been able to grow in empathy toward other persons’ experience of violence and prejudice and write plays that demonstrate human dignity and not stereotypes. My plays comprise the quest for sobriety in prison; children and older teens and young adults surviving abuse of many kinds, realistically illustrated along with their parents’ collapses and coldness. I have written monologues for judges and correctional officers and prostitutes, and for a national security aide to Henry Kissinger, and for Nixon and Kissinger and Salvador Allende.
And after I suffered loss of mobility due to crippling sciatica, I wrote comedies about living with a service dog among ignorant people who knew nothing about such assistance. I even wrote about a cat who became a psychiatrist (“I just tucked my tail and dressed for success!). The comedies won awards at Dominican University, San Rafael, California. And my work has been performed at the George R. Moscone Center and the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
When I began my quest for artistic and moral and emotional clarity through writing, I had no idea that many men in the arts did not believe women belonged with them in their theatres, universities, poetry readings etc. My plays have never been produced on or off Broadway or at the famous regional theatres in Minnesota, Kentucky and southern California.
I blamed myself: my work just wasn’t clear enough or good enough.
Then the Princeton Study came out, and hard statistics concerning under-representation made clear that invisible wall of prejudice against women, and male anxiety toward women.
I stopped blaming myself, but felt a terrible grief that these American academic and artistic establishments prefer women to be sexually and intellectually degraded, monsters best kept at a distance.
Their concern and respect for me kept me alive until medications for depression were discovered.
I am sixty eight years old now, writing as I did when I was twelve at a time of approaching nuclear war. The call to courage is, must be, just as strong for creative artists as it was then: the informed conscience and the empathetic soul may be the only thing holding back the might of the generals and their “leaders”.
I have written a position paper on impeachment, supporting the psychiatric observations of the Yale College of Medicine concerning Mr. Trump.
The memory of my beloved husband and many friends supports me.
Now is not the time to give up. There may be no other time to be a creative artist, an interpreter of living souls, if Donald Trump suspends the Constitution and declares martial law.
Welcome New Member
Playwright, actress, lyricist Eloise Coopersmith has been performing and presenting her creative talents for the last 50 years.
Home for Mom, Finding Center, The Pass. Re-sil-ence
Now Playing and Coming Soon
Finishing School by Elaine Liner from Dallas, TX, opens Sept 8 (through 17) at the Bristol Opera House in Bristol, Indiana, in a production by the Elkhart Civic Theatre.
Guerrilla Girl Aphra Behn aka Donna Kaz in “Act Like a Feminist Artist - a Guerrilla Girl Unmasks” at the Decatur Book Festival in Georgia on September 3rd at 2:30PM - www.decaturbookfestival.com/sessions/view/591dd8d323c1d53b573e205a
at the Baltimore Book Festival on September 24. www.baltimorebookfestival.com/participants/author/4409/Donna-Kaz
“Performing Tribute 9/11: Ordinary People, Remarkable Stories” by Donna Kaz will be presented by The Common Ground Community and The Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City on September 14 at 7PM - 7 West 55th Street, NY, NY.
Coming to America, written by Stephanie Satie and directed by Anita Khanzadian, October 22, 2 p.m. at the United Solo Festival on Theatre Row
Board Member and Newsletter Team Member Lillian S. Cauldwell has made an audio version of the newsletter available through Passionate World Radio. Click on the icon below to listen.
My drama EVERYDAY EDNA MAE received three nominations from the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity following production this summer, including a nomination for Outstanding Playwriting for a New Script. My dark comedy LISTEN! THE RIVER received four nominations for acting and one for sound design.
I was selected to be a panelist for the Broadway Bound Theatre Festival in New York City in August.
Top Ten Ways to Get Your Play Produced in New York
by Debbie L. Miller
Are you at a creative impasse? Burned out? Tired of sending out submission after submission, only to receive nothing but rejections? Well, don't give up! That big production deal is just around the corner. If you follow these handy tips on how to get your play produced in the Big Apple, you'll be raking in the money in no time.
1. To fund your play, rob a bank, marry Donald Trump, or bump off a rich relative. Or, come up with a novel fundraising idea. Forget bake sales and car washes. Think outside the box: host a Tupperware party in trendy Tribeca; parade around Midtown wearing a sandwich board, dressed as a duck; actually talk to people on the subway. Let desperation be your guide, and don't be afraid to make a spectacle of yourself. It’s New York, after all. Nobody will bat an eyelash. They don't call it "Show Biz" for nothing!
2. Originality is way over-rated. Forget about having your own voice. This is an erroneous belief started by a writer who read too many "how to" playwriting books and attended too many workshops. The key word here is "derivative." Copy characters, "borrow" ideas. You aren't stealing--you're paying homage to other writers.
3. Make it a love story. You'll have a hit every time. Punch it up -- have the main character fall in love with a sheep, or better still, a unicorn. Audiences love to watch romance unfurl. But, whatever you do, do not have the characters talk about anything serious! Frivolity must prevail. Create characters who muse about the weather, sing the praises of their dry cleaners, or long for the right haircut. The last thing you want to do is depress your audience by asking them to think about reality.
4. Give your play a sexual theme. Sex sells, remember? So, sex it up! Elaborately staged orgy-istic scenes, costumes out of Frederick's of Hollywood. No holds barred! If you worry about offending, you'll lose precious butts in the seats! And, is that not the name of the game? This is a marvelous way to boost ticket prices and help your bottom line. Why charge just $95 a seat when you can rake in $250?
5. Cast big names. Think "Dancing with the Stars” and celebrity chefs. And, don’t forget washed-up former child stars -- anything that makes an audience say, "Gee whiz, I thought he was dead!"
6. Remember the three S's. Fill your script with Sex, Sin, and Special Effects. Add lots of flying actors in tights and an erupting volcano or two. Spray-paint the audience with RustOleum. After all, words just get in the way.
8. Is your muse out to lunch? Keep writing. Haven’t had a creative thought in a decade? Write anyway. Nobody's listening to the words. The writing is just one cog in the theatrical wheel. Don't take yourself so seriously, for God's sake!
9. A word about success, that elusive butterfly. Elusive yes, but there are more important things, are there not? Moments nobody can take away from you. The expression on the face of your lead actress when she flubs her lines. The actor who misses his cue and enters a page later. The director who insists your play would be better if you closed Act One with your romantic leads doing it “doggie style" on a table. These are the moments that every playwright lives for. Forget about money and fame--these are our real bread and butter. This is why we dream of leaving our day jobs. And, why we’ll do anything to get our plays put up.
10. If all else fails, you can always take hormones to lower your voice, sprout body hair, and grow a penis, thereby dramatically increasing your chances of getting the attention of producers, backers, and agents. Come to think of it, pretty much everything else falls into place if you follow this rule.
So, there you have it. Follow these tips and soon Broadway producers will be knocking down your door.
Thank you for your contributions. We are trying to make the newsletter more inclusive of our members and to include news and writings from them.
I have been ICWP Newsletter Editor for more than five years and love the opportunity to contribute to this great organization and to learn new skills. However I have a lot of new obligations this school year and I am trying to start my own online business. With these extra responsibilities, I will not be able to continue doing the newsletter after the first of the year. I will be happy to teach and mentor whoever volunteers for this job. You will have the opportunity to promote one of the best online communities on the web and become close friends with playwrights around the world.
The image used in this newsletter are the work of KreativeHexenkueche. It was downloaded from Pixabay. Agust 26, 2017. It is available under a CCO Creative Commons License.
Introducing Virginia Wall Gruenert, Executive Artistic Director of
off the WALL Productions
Carnegie, Pensylvania, USA
If therewas an Olympic medal for services to women in theatre, Virginia Wall Gruenert would be standing the highest on the podium wearing the gold.
Welcome New Members
Sharon Rose, USA
Dramatists Guild of America
International Center for Women Playwrights
Pen Center USA
Patricia Bell-Scott, USA
Patricia Bell-Scott is professor emerita of women’s studies and human development and family science at the University of Georgia, and author of the award-winning biography, The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice. Her book tells the story of how a brilliant writer-turned-activist and the First Lady of the United States forged a friendship that changed their lives, enriched the conversation about race, and fueled the movement for human rights in America. The Firebrand and the First Lady won the Lillian Smith Book Award and was named Booklist Best Book of the Year. It was also a finalist for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, as well as a nominee for the National Book Award and the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award. She is working on adaptation of her biography for the stage.
For more information, visit email@example.com
Claire Cooney, USA
Elaine Liner, USA
Elaine Liner is a playwright in Dallas, Texas, who "emerged" after a long career in arts journalism. She made her debut as a solo performer and playwright at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and has toured with her one-woman show, Sweater Curse. Her two-act comedy Finishing School is a winner in the 2017-18 American Association of Community Theatre's New Play Fest and will premiere in September 2017 in Elkhart, Indiana. She's also written a novel, 2084: An American Parable (available on Amazon in ebook or paperback worldwide), and she's a member of the Dramatists Guild.
To earn a living, Elaine drives tours around the JFK assassination sites in downtown Dallas and sells her knitted creations online. Her next play is an adaptation of Romeo & Juliet in which an older couple falls in love at first sight -- only to have their adult children try to keep them apart.
Representative Play Titles
Sweater Curse: A Yarn about Love; Finishing School; A Ripping Christmas Carol; The Crickets' Lunch; Replaceable Blond; Cappy & Monty-A Love Story
Qurell-Amani Wright, USA
Qurell-Amani is a graduate of the Florida Statue University School of Motion Picture, Television and Recording Arts. After graduation she relocated to Beaufort, South Carolina where she was employed as an on-air personality and commercial voice-over artist at WVGB radio. Since then, she has traveled the country with Theatre IV of Cincinnati, Ohio as well as performed in several commercials including Sonic Restaurants, and the military’s Space A travel program. Her motion picture projects include several independent films and "Ghostown", produced by DreamWorks.
Qurell is currently a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild and is producing and performing her labor of love, Panther Woman, a one-woman show highlighting the female experience in the Original Black Panther Party for Self Defense. “It is my mission to use the talents afforded me by The Universe and my Ancestors to provide quality theatre featuring strong, powerful women of color. Visit the website at www.pantherwomantheplay.com
Now Playing and Coming Soon
If you have a play or a reading between September 1 – September 30, please email Amy (firstname.lastname@example.org) before August 15 and it will be featured in the NOW PLAYING column of the September newsletter. Any play or reading in October will appear in the COMING SOON column.
Women without Walls by Robin Rice, Small but Mighty Productions, August 2-6, Toronto, CANADA
F4 by Elin Hampton has been selected as a finalist in the Samuel French 42nd OOB Short Play Festival. It will be performed on August 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the East 13th Street Theater, New York, New York, USA
Shaking the Dew from the Lilies by Paddy Gillard-Bentley will be playing August 16-16 at K-W Little Theatre, Ontario, CANADA
Elaine Liner’s two-act comedy Finishing School is a winner in the 2017-18 American Association of Community Theatre's New Play Fest and will premiere in September 2017 in Elkhart, Indiana.
Board Member and Newsletter Team Member Lillian Cauldwell has made an audio version of the newsletter available through Passionate World Radio. Click on the icon below to listen.
Member Spotlight: Eliza Wyatt
Eliza Wyatt by Eliza Wyatt
This is a stop-gap Spotlight because it’s sometimes difficult to reach playwrights in other regions.
I consider myself an American playwright, formed by the women’s movement and Boston and Brandeis Universities, but I’ve ‘lived’ in three different cultures. I was born in England but was part of the Boston theatre scene for twenty five years but the majority of my plays are influenced by my Iranian marriage and my feminist protest. I wrote Mirror Images at the request of my fellow playwright, Geralyn Horton, at our Playwrights’ Platform meetings in Boston. This play is about the imposition of the veil on a group of women whose culture is unspecified. It was staged in Bilekent University, Ankara and subsequently banned. It is the only play of mine to be censured.
My five Hitler based plays represent an obsession that was probably the result of growing up in post-war Britain. I remember bomb sites and sugar rationing and how people would cringe every time a plane few overhead. My childhood experiences are now the subject of my only novel, Back From The Edge.
My American play, The Competitive Spirit, takes a critical look at an overly competitive (Boston) society. A shorter version of that play called Chronic Competition was also directed by Geralyn Horton. Techno Frantic Love, which foreshadows Google Glasses, also takes place in a Boston high-rise and is a look at our passionate love affair with technology.
I’ve been lucky in that women have championed me, Helen Warren Meyer and Lucille Lortel among others and most of my plays have been produced. I’m a proud to be a long time member of ICWP and now a board member. I’ve uploaded plays on the New Play Exchange and urge others to do the same. I’m a member of the Dramatist Guild.
I also write for Words Across Time, which is a web-site e-zine for lovers of the written word. I invite ICWP members to write book reviews for this worthy site. The book can be written at any place and at any time in our global history.
Pernille Dahl Johnsen: Playwright / Director / ActorArtistic Director of Johnsen & Johnsen Produksjoner.
Jessica Atwooki Kaahwa is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Departments of Performing Arts and Film at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda. Dr. Kaahwa has been the architect of a number of national initiatives that have sought to use theatre and media as a constructive force in conflict settings and for health improvement. She has and continues to experiment with theories that expand the discourse on theatre applications. A good example is her recent experimentation with “Theatre for Personal Meaning” and “Theatre for Conflict Analysis.” She continues to work on integrating “Processes Theory” into mainstream Applied Theatre practice. Dr. Kaahwa is also an accomplished director with a number of stage productions to her credit.
Cynthia Wands, USA
My play The Lost Years received it's world premiere production in April 2017, at the Contra Costa Civic Theater, directed by Marilyn Langbehn.
I am currently working on a new script, The Hoarding House and hope to have a workshop reading in August 2017.
I am looking to create language-based plays which explore the mystic and historic elements of our consciousness. I worked for many years as a stage actress in San Francisco, Boston, and Los Angeles, and had the opportunity to work with some extraordinary theatre artists. My work included plays produced at the Magic Theatre, San Francisco Rep, Celebration Theatre, and the Berkeley Shakespeare Festival. My exposure to the plays and playwrights gave me an appreciation for magical realism, and my writing explores the connection between the natural and unknown. I have studied playwright structure with Dakota Powell at UCLA, Murray Mednick at the Padua Playwrights Workshop, Leon Martell at UCLA, and with Jack Grapes in his Method Writing classes. I am currently a member of WORDS THAT SPEAK, a playwrights group in Los Angeles, California. I have developed scripts at the Ohio State University retreat for playwrights with the ICWP (International Center for Women’s Playwrights). The Dramatist Guild hosted a reading of my script The Lost Years in November 2007 for Footlight Series in Los Angeles. The Botanicum Seedlings project has also read my scripts at the Theatricum Botanicum Green Reads series. I am a member of The Dramatist Guild, ALAP (Alliance for Los Angeles Playwrights), LAFPI (Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative) and ICWP (International Centre for Women Playwrights). My theatre works include Day of The Dead, The Lost Years, Emily, and The American Woman.
The 50/50 Applause Award has been extended to July 10, allowing forv acations and questions about new criteria This year, we have changed some of the criteria to reflect not only equality in women's and men's productions and number of performances, but also to ensure multiple female playwrights in theatre productions. We have expanded our reach to other countries--by searching theatre lists throughout the world. We are evaluating how many repeat award recipients have not met the criteria and why. This year, so far, more theatres are nominating themselves, and are interested in maintaining the 50/50 criteria. Many have heard about the awards through our members, social media,and the press releases. France is running at a 25% women, 75% men ratio right now.
We'll have a fuller report after we conclude the awards and analyze our research results.
Still time to nominate!
If you have a play or a reading between August 1 – August 31, please email Amy (email@example.com) before July 15 and it will be featured in the NOW PLAYING column of the August newsletter. Any play or reading in September will appear in the COMING SOON column.
Listen! The River by Robin Rice s a (true) story about love, loss and hope. It will be produced for two nights only by Articulate Theatre Company. July 6 and 8. New York, New York, USA
God Bless Phyllis Schlafly by Amy Grant is a 10-minute play examining the women’s movement in America. July 15 & 16, 2017, MITF Short Play Lab, The Workshop Jewel Box Theater. 312 W 36th St., New York, New York, USA
I’m wearing my own clothes! by Nancy Gall-Clayton will be performed July 15, 16, 20, and 23, by Looking for Lilith Theatre Company, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
The Mess by Catherine Frid is a 10-minute play for two female actors that explores memory and forgetting, and the importance of reaching out across generations to transcend barriers and secrets. It will be presented as part of the NewMarket National Play Festival, July 22 - 23, 2017, NewMarket, Ontario, CANADA
Plays by Carolyn Gage
Harriet Tubman Visits a Therapist, First Congregational Church, Soul Rebel Performance Troupe, July 14-16, Albany, New York, USA
Lace Curtain Irish, Buxton Fringe Festival,featuring Joanne Lavelle. Dates and venues TBA. Buxton, Derbyshire, UK
At Sea, Fresh Fruit Festival, directed by Kathe Mull, July (TBA) New York, New York, USA
Babe! An Olympian Musical, A concert/reading, National Women’s Music Festival, the NWMF Chorus and a pit orchestra! July 6-9, Madison, Wisconsin,USA
The Obligatory Scene, Fresh Fruit Festival, directed by Kathe Mull, New York, New York, USA
Maxine, And. by Lynne S. Brandon, part of the Athena Reads monthly play reading series. Athena Theatre Company, June 29, New York, New York, USAhttp://www.athenatheatre.com/athena-reads
In the Restroom at Rosenblooms by Ludmilla Bollow will be presented on Fridays this July at Mosely Arts Center, Lake City Colorado, USA
Women without Walls by Robin Rice, Small but Mighty Productions, August 2-6, Toronto, CANADA
Articles of Interest
The Articles of Interest column is now housed right here in the News Area of the website.
The section will be curated by Karin Williams assisted by volunteers
Eleanor Oberio (Sept 1 - Nov 1)
Thank you for all your hard work.
Yours for innovative, engaging and equitable theater,
Member Spotlight: Shannon Murdoch
by Eliza Wyatt
Shannon Murdoch holds a first class honours degree in Theatre and Creative Writing and was an Australia delegate to the International Youth Playwrights Festival. She has been aware of the magic of theatre since the age of eight but recognizes the special challenges in being a female playwright because 'women tell stories differently'. She has now given up paralegal work and is now able to workas a dramaturg and on her writing. She says she 'fiercely listens' to people who understand what she is trying to say and is a great fan of rewrites and submitting wherever and whenever possible.
Researching theatres in Melbourne, her present location, gives us some idea of what she is up against, a challenge shared by all playwrights in big cities. The number of theatres is impressive, the total population of playgoers on any given night could easily reach ten thousand people. People watching opera, dance, musicals, contemporary art and performance shows and concerts. This kind of global entertainment to be found throughout the world. Shannon is aware that Australian theatre still has to build 'its cannon' and is still finding its voice. In her work she has had access to two different Australian backgrounds, the heat and humidity of Queensland and the often cloudy, grey and windy Melbourne. Atmospheric descriptions which I'm sure will find their way into the cannon of her work.
Shannon is a winner of the U.S. Yale Drama Series Award and has a screenplay, Little Bitch, in development. She has an impressive list of productions in Australia, Canada and the U.S.
the room where she works
Q: Why did you become a playwright?
My mum took me to see CATS! when I was 8 years old. I still remember every moment of that performance and the tingly feeling I had when the lights went down, anticipating that some sort of magic was about to happen. And it did. After that, I became hooked on theatre. Couldn’t get enough of it. I acted as a kid and as a teenager and then went to drama school, where I realised that I could sit down and create that tingly feeling with my own stories. And so, here we are.
Q: Are there any special challenges in being a female playwright?
Well, the statistics speak for themselves. We are half of the population competing for a quarter of the available production slots. But that’s not the real challenge. The real challenge is the fact that women tell stories differently. Not better, and definitely not worse. But different. A different shape, that sometimes does not fit neatly into traditional structures. So, the real challenge is to not only write our stories, but to find or invent the structures that support them in the best way, and make them as valuable and as prized as traditional structures.
Q: What is special about theatre in Australia?
I guess the fact that it is still so new. In the western world, we are a very young country, borne of a history of colonisation by people that stole land and lives from the traditional owners. A shameful past, which sits uneasily in the national consciousness. Added to that, Australian stories and Australian voices have only been heard on Australian stages since the 1950s. Before that, we only had British theatre. So, I think we still are trying to find our voices and still building our canon.
Q: What advice would you give to your fellow (or aspiring) playwrights?
I’m not big on advice, but here’s what I know to be true for my writing:
Ideas and the craft you need to bring those ideas to life rarely come together at the same time. I recently found a way to complete a play that I had the first idea for 9 years ago. It’s a marathon.
Know your good. Take the time to understand what kind of plays you want to write, why you want to write them, and what the best possible version of that is. Don’t stop writing it until you have reached that best possible version.
Fiercely listen to people who understand what you are trying to do. Politely ignore the rest.
Submit. Everywhere. Make it a part of your practice to get your plays in front of every set of eyes possible. You’ll be amazed at what happens next.
Have a life outside writing. No one needs another play about artists talking to artists about the problems that artists have. There are way too many good stories out there.
Carolyn Gage, USA
Carolyn Gage is a lesbian feminist playwright, performer, director, and activist. The author of nine books on lesbian theatre and sixty-five plays, musicals, and one-woman shows, she specializes in non-traditional roles for women, especially those reclaiming famous lesbians whose stories have been distorted or erased from history.
In 2014, she was one of the six featured playwrights at the 53rd Annual World Theatre Day, sponsored by UNESCO, and held in Rome. In 2014 she also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Venus Theatre in Laurel, Maryland. In 2015, the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College acquired her papers.
Charmaine Spencer, USA
As a teacher and professional puppeteer, Charmaine Spencer has written numerous story adaptations for young audiences including two-actor versions of The Time Machine and Treasure Island and an audience participation comedy entitled Higgledy Piggledy Mother Goose. Her play, Fireflies, concerning the young artists of Terezin concentration camp was published by Eldridge Plays. Her one-man musical about the life of Mario Lanza was twice produced at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and she is currently working on book and lyrics for Circus Boys, a musical story of the young Ringling Brothers and Mrs Magi, an urban retelling of O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi.”
We are excited to announce that the 50/50 Applause Award for Gender Equity in Theatre will launch on June 5th with nominations accepted from June 5 through June 30th. Some minor changes have been made to the criteria. Nomination forms and press releases will be available in English, Spanish, and French. More announcements to come.
The 50/50 Applause Award team.
If you have a play or a reading between July 1 – July 29, please email Amy (firstname.lastname@example.org) before June 15 and it will be featured in the NOW PLAYING column of the July newsletter. Any play or reading in August will appear in the COMING SOON column.
Liquid Lunch in Hell’s Kitchen, a monologue by Robin Rice will be part of The Strand Project. June 2, 3, 9, 10: Selah Dessert Theater, Struthers, Ohiio, USA
Everyday Edna Mae also by Robin Rice will be presented June 15, 20, 22 at Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, New York City, USA
Tops and Maxine by Lynne S. Brandon have been selected for readings by Athena Theatre Company. They will be read and discussed June 29th and July 27th at the Dramatists Guild Fund, 356 W. 40th Street (at 9th Ave.), as part of Athena Reads monthly play reading series.
Gutless and Grateful by Amy Osestreicher June 30 at 9:30 p.m. at Feinstein’s/54 Below, New York City, USA
In the Restroom at Rosenblooms by Ludmilla Bollow will be presented on Fridays this July at Mosely Arts Center, Lake City Colorado, USA
Listen! The River by Robin Rice will by presented at Planet Connections Theatre Festivity. Articulate Theatre Co. July 6 & 8, New York City, USA
God Bless Phyllis Schlafly, a ten-minute play by Amy Drake examining the women’s movement in America, will be playing July 15 & 16 as part of the MITF Short Play Lab, New York, New York, USA
The Mess, a 10-minute play by Catherine Frid that explores memory and forgetting, and the importance of reaching out across generations, will be playing at the NewMarket National Play Festival on July 22. NewMarket, Ontario, CANADA
Women in Theatre and Screen Australia believes in quotas and affirmative action in the pursuit of gender parity and gender diversity.
The Guardian reports ten groundbreaking shows by women on Australian stages in 2016.
Aussie Theater talks with Lisa Campbell about gender disparity in Australian theater.
Yours for innovative, engaging, and equitable theater,
Ibadete Abazi is a screenwriter/playwright, born in 1990 in Kosovo (former Yugoslavia). She is currently completing her MFA in Dramaturgy at the University of Prishtina's Art Faculty.
She holds a Bachelor of Dramaturgy from the same University. Abazi's first play, entitled Soldier of Two Wars was produced on December 2015 at Kosovo's Dodona Theatre.
The play is considered a very powerful production, whose focus is an American soldier who served in Balkan conflicts - specifically the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo - and married a wealthy Albanian Kosovar. The play has been translated from the original Albanian into English and Turkish
Ibadete Abazi is a screenwriter /playwright, born in 1990 in Kosovo (former Yugoslavia). She is currently completing her MFA in Dramaturgy at the University of Prishtina's Art Faculty. She holds a Bachelor of Dramaturgy from the same University.
badete Abazi is a screenwriter/playwright, born in 1990 in Kosovo (former Yugoslavia). She is currently completing her MFA in Dramaturgy at the University of Prishtina's Art Faculty. She holds a Bachelor of Dramaturgy from the same University. Abazi's first play, entitled Soldier of Two Wars was produced on December 2015 at Kosovo's Dodona Theatre.
The play is considered a very powerful production, whose focus is an American soldier who served in Balkan conflicts - specifically the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo - and married a wealthy Albanian Kosovar. The play has been translated from the original Albanian into English and Turkish. Abazi has also authored two other plays entitled Female Fragrance and Two Enemies and Soldiers, both produced in Kosovo in 2016. She is married to Kosovar-American actor Avni Abazi, and they have two daughters. In the foreseeable future, Abazi plans to live and work in the United States
A: It's funny how life sometimes pulls you into unexpected directions in your profession. The truth is that I never thought someday I would ever become a playwright, even though during my teenage years I wrote poetry.
I was at the end of my high school studies for architecture, when I met my actor boyfriend, who is now my husband. Following high school graduation, I tried to get into the faculty of Architecture at the University of Prishtina, but because of stiff competition, I wasn't accepted. I was very disappointed, but Avni, my then-boyfriend approached me and said that it wasn't the end of the world, because there are other things as beautiful as architecture.
He proceeded to place on a table volumes written by Shakespeare, Arthur Miller and Chekhov, noting that “books can be the biggest pain-relievers at the most disappointing times of our lives”. After reading Chekhov's The Boor, I asked Avni why he had given me only theatre plays to review. He replied that if I decided to write plays, he may have the chance to act in them someday. However, he continued, if I became an architect, he may never enjoy living in any of the buildings that I might design.
Finally, he asked me what I ultimately wanted to be in my professional life. He opined that as an architect I would help to create buildings, but as a playwright, I would have the opportunity to enhance and beautify the human spirit. And that’s how it all started.
For six months, I pored over the authors' works that Avni had recommended, and then diligently prepared for study at the Faculty of Arts. I remember the first dialogue that I wrote. Avni suggested that I plumb my memory in order to call to mind the most unique and different characters that I knew from life, and unite them.
Doing that, he said, may potentially create a conflict, and when you have the latter, you have a perfect recipe for drama. Even now as I am doing my masters, that’s the principle I apply when starting any script or a writing play.
Looking back, I couldn't be happier that I wasn't accepted into the architecture program.
A: Well, it's an out-of-the-gate challenge, because your work is judged by a double-measure compared with your male counterparts. You are obligated to create higher-quality work than a man, not because someone forces you to do it, but because you feel that in all of the discussions, male authors are held up as the best models in writing.
I personally feel lucky, because three of my plays have been produced by my husband, and I have been cooperating with him even while being produced. Now that I've passed the test on staging here in Kosovo, I've been working with an excellent British female translator named Alexandra Channer, and the good news is that we've received a positive response from Kosovo's Ministry of Culture (MOC).
We are pleased about the MOC's decision to finance the three-play publication in English. We also believe that my plays have universal themes, even though the subject matter is taken from Kosovar life. For example, the play Female Fragrance, deals with the topic of rape, and I think that everywhere in the world, women are vulnerable to many types of abuse.
I also think that Two Enemies and Soldiers, which focuses on two enemies (one Serb and one Albanian) who are fleeing from the war could be a drama that might be produced in Austria, and involve a Jew and a Palestinian. It could also take place in New York City, and deal with an American and a German in the aftermath of World War II.
So I can say that it has been a challenge to work as a playwright in Kosovo, but all things considered, I believe I've succeeded in achieving my goals. And I hope and pray that I'll find success in the U.S.A. as well.
A: I would consider the answer to lie in our great diversity of culture, as well as the major political changes from communism to democracy that the region has undergone. The latter have led to numerous senseless wars, and the suffering that people have experienced are, for good or for bad, inexhaustible resources for playwrights.
That said however, up to this point, has Southeastern Europe, otherwise known as the Balkans, utilized these events to create the best plays and novels? I really don't think so. Even years after the Yugoslav wars have ended, theatres in this part of Europe are still characterized by extreme nationalism.
Authors and directors, in many cases, have become complicit with the nationalist politics of their respective governments in almost all former Yugoslav nations. Some well-known writers who found success in the 1990s today ply their trade for daily consumption.
Depending on which country the play is produced in, theaters attempt to show that their nation's people are upstanding and progressive-minded, and entrusted with sacred missions.
The neighboring people, with whom they once fought, are formulaically introduced as evil and corrupt. The enemy, as in the case of Muslim Bosnians and Kosovar Albanians, are often typecast as terrorists.
No matter how good a play may be that is written by say, a Croatian author, it is extremely difficult for that work to be staged in Serbia or other Balkan countries. The situation is even harder with ethnic-Albanian authors from Kosovo, because of the large presence of the international community, and the latter's influence on local artists.
In Kosovo, following the war's end in 1999, the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) helped to engender a spirit of forgiveness towards the Milosevic regime, with regard to the crimes perpetrated by Belgrade's directive in the region. And so the artistic community found itself in a difficult situation: Some adopted the same exclusionary attitude that was prevalent in other former Yugoslav countries, in order to create a kind of national folk-theater.
Others lobbied for international funds, and staged improvisations that cast negative aspersions on "outsiders and enemies". A third category violated Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) laws by performing international theatre plays - after translating them into Albanian - and producing/publishing them as their own.
I should also note that there is a popular trend among theater managers to seek offerings by American and European authors. In my opinion, this is an unfortunate development, because millions of dollars have been invested in promoting Kosovar culture by foreign foundations over the past 17, post-war years.
However, if you ask the average person whether any noteworthy local playwright has appeared on the arts-scene resulting from all of this outside "financial encouragement", the answer is an emphatic no. I therefore think the time has come for these small Southeastern European nations to form an open dialogue, and to organize dramaturgy competitions.
I am confident that the results of such collaboration would be of interest to European and American theaters, as something exotic and different for those audiences.I have, by the way, competed in dozens of American theaters with my two dramas, but have ironically been unable to break into a sole competition in the much closer neighboring countries.
It is tragi-comic, I think, that playwrights from this region need to work very industriously to be produced in western theatres, only after which our local theatres will recognize our value and produce our plays.
A: If you go to a zoo to be entertained, you see a variety of wild animals locked in their cages. In my plays, I undo the latches and attempt to set the creatures free.
Thereafter, the beasts fight for their territories - for their rights, if you will. It is this catalyst that creates a conflict, which quickly evolves into a drama. That said, find the zoo both within you and around you, and throw them together. At that point, you're good to go with the resulting mix. I actually think I read that formula in an Ingmar Bergman biography.
Sidra Rausch, USA
Thank you to all those who participated in the online Annual Meeting for all ICWP members. All Board of Trustee members were reinstated with the welcome addition of Lilian Cauldwell. In the Board Meeting that followed, these officers were elected.
President - Sophia Romma
Vice President - Lucia Verona
Treasurer - Rita Barkey
Secretary - Sharon Wallace
If you have a play or a reading between June 1 – June 30, please email Amy (email@example.com) before May 15 and it will be featured in the NOW PLAYING column of the June newsletter. Any play or reading in July will appear in the COMING SOON column.
May 2017 Half Full, Catherine Frid's play about youth anxiety for grades 7 - 10 is receiving a school tour by Mixed Company Theatre in Toronto, CANADA.
May 3 Come and seeAct Like a Feminist Artist. Guerrilla Girl Aphra Behn speaks, signs, and unmasks at CalPoly, Pomona, California, USA
Faye Sholiton’s Funny Valentine will be produced as part of the Stray Kats Theatre Company's "Still Crazy After All These Years" festival, one of 8 short plays for folks over 55. Newtown, Connecticut, USA May 5, 6, 7 Hamden, Connecticut, USA May 11, 12, 13
Elana Gartner's new play Before Lesbians will be receiving a staged reading at her 20th reunion at Oberlin College. Directed by Zoe Kushlefsky, class of 2018. May 20, Oberlin, Ohio. USA Warner Building.
An excerpt of Nancy Gall-Clayton's full-length comedy Lightening Up is one of several featured May 19-27, at Khaos Company Theatre in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
The Mess, a 10-minute play by Catherine Frid that explores memory and forgetting, and the importance of reaching out across generations, will be playing at the NewMarket National Play Festival on July 22. Ontario, CANADA
The national Theatre of Kosovo hosts a growing performing arts scene in Pristina.
Poland is home to the Polski Theatre in Wroclaw, the Gdansk Shakespeare Festival and the International Theatre Schools Festival.
The Czech Republic has a thriving theatre scene, including experimental and puppet theatre.
The State Jewish Theater in Bucharest, Romania is keeping Yiddish culture alive.
In Ukraine, civilians and soldiers are collaborating on stage to exorcise war-related trauma.
Member Spotlight: Antonia Brancati
Antonia Brancati is an Italian literary agent, translator, and playwright. Her mother was famed actress Anna Proclemer and her father was the great novelist and playwright Vitaliano Brancati. In 1991 she become a Literary Agent for the theatre, representing in Italy, just to name one, Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter. In 1993 her first play Preoccupazione per Lalla (They All Worry about Lalla) was staged with a good success at Teatro Politecnico in Rome. In 2012 she is one of the founder of CeNDIC (National Centre of Italian Contemporary Playwrights.) Her representative play is PAST IMPERFECT (AKA I Would Prefer Not To.)
What are the joys and challenges of being a playwright?
Creativity is the real joy – I mean the process of it, at any steps: pursuing, tackling, attempting, striving at, working on, missing, failing, conquering for a brief moment of elation, then starting again from scratch. The main challenge is really to find the way to at least show one’s finished work (not as easy as it seems). But doesn’t this go for any field of arts as well as crafts?
Challenges more specific to playwriting I believe are the ones we playwrights pose to ourselves: the one I personally find most intriguing is how to write the subtext without actually writing it, or how to make my characters reveal their intentions while I make them say words contrary to those very intentions.
Are there any special challenges associated with being a woman playwright?
I became a playwright when I was the wrong side of forty. My beloved father was a great writer, a novelist, a playwright, an essayist, a screenwriter – the only trouble being that he died when I was only seven. My mother was one of the greatest stage actresses in Italy. I won’t mention my Electra complex, because you may all well imagine it. Since I was a child I knew I would be a writer. When I was about twenty, I knew I actually was a writer – and also knew better than saying it out loud because I had no publication to prove it. I was a secret writer, alright, and I kept writing and writing and writing for myself.
One day I read that Teatro di Roma was launching a theatre seminar; I thought attending it would do my work as an agent good - and I decided to join in. I vaguely expected we would politely talk about theatre in general, what it is and what it should be. No polite talks, however. The maestro said “Useless to discuss theory: let’s work on your works instead.” – At which, all the other participants around me took their scripts out of their pockets with what seemed to me the sound of a machine-gun. I was the only one empty-handed. I decided I would not be left behind, and started writing my very first play. It was eventually staged. Which made it possible for me to maintain I was a writer.
As for being a woman playwright – a few years back the director of teatro Stabile in Turin sent a letter to various playwrights, including myself, asking us to write a one-act on what theatre was for us. A splendid idea, after which – and before the one-acts could be staged – he was fired by the theatre. Believe me, that explains a lot about theatre in Italy.
For that project, I wrote a piece titled “The Playwright’s Nightmare”, and it was all about a male author, a certain Paolo, who has been granted the permission to see a rehearsal of his work. He wanders about the theatre, disregarded and belittled even by the last of the props men, finds that his play is being completely distorted by the star-director, and keeps wondering why is he wearing a skirt and everybody keeps calling him Anita instead. My mother read the play and was quite amused by the antics I had given to the Director (a quite recognizable character), but wondered why I had added the bit about the Author dreaming he was an Authoress. “Elementary, Mother.”, I said. “What worst nightmare may there be in our xenophile country than to be an Italian playwright – and a woman besides!” And the situation hasn’t really improved much.
What special contribution does Italy give to theatre?
For centuries, Italy existed only as a common culture and language. But in the 18th and 19th century, that language was well known and spoken by intellectuals and in the courts of all Europe. It was the language of Opera everywhere.
Italy was united under the kingdom of Piedmont and Sardinia in 1861. There was a very important Company in Piedmont: Compagnia Reale Sarda founded in 1820 and generously subsidized by the government. Over 34 years the Compagnia produced 591 Italian plays and extensively toured abroad. In 1855 the subsidies were cut and the Company was disbanded. That was the dawning of the new Kingdom of Italy.
Our (exportable) theatre is mainly visual. As for that, we can offer visually excellent shows by excellent directors who tend to believe they are the only real authors of a play. As far as they are concerned, all the actual playwright has to do is to provide a meager excuse for the director’s creativity. Not a text, but a pretext.
What has been your most rewarding experience as a playwright?
I really feel rewarded any time a piece of mine is chosen and staged. I love having a play of mine staged abroad, as that gives me a perfect excuse to travel. I like to remember how fun it was being in Mexico City for the opening of a play of mine with my husband and my mother – and to see mother peacocking around: “I am the mother of the autora!” (she always had to be the absolute star!)
And of course I like good notices. I am more doubtful about compliments, however. I remember one a very important critic paid me a few years ago: “You write like a man!” – but isn’t it another way to say that if you do not have gonads you’re really not worth much? - He was so patronisingly convinced that I actually did take that as a compliment, even though I honestly found it dubious. How could I object, though? Even St. Catherine used to exhort to “be manly” men and women alike, and she is the patron saint of Italy, after all. Another critic once told me: “I hope you don’t mind if I tell you that I find your play a pièce bien faite.” I still don’t see why I should have minded.
What advice would you give to any playwright?
Write what you enjoy writing. Which really means enjoy without having your creativity hampered by worries of eventual production requirements (you know: small cast, one set, a not too controversial topic, dramedy with a hint of farce, or whatever). Leave also aside any thoughts of possible failure – and any dreams of success. Live for the moment: feel free and enjoy the feeling.
On the other hand – if you are commissioned a piece on an indifferent topic and with lots of production requirements do not turn it down: rather use it as a mental gym – a particular kind of Sudoku. That also can be fun.
Wendy-Marie Martin, USA
Wendy-Marie Martin holds a BFA in Acting and an MFA in Playwriting and has taught, directed and performed in Europe and the U.S. Her short plays have been produced in Germany, The Netherlands, Australia, and the U.S and published by YouthPLAYS, Theatrefolk, Polychoron Press and Smith & Krauss. She is creator and Executive Producer of The Red Eye 10s International Play Festival and co-producer of San Francisco Stage & Film's The Future is Female Festival readings. Wendy-Marie is a member of the Dramatists Guild, TCG, and the Playwrights' Center and currently teaches Theatre History for Allan Hancock College/PCPA. For more information about Wendy-Marie's work, please visit her website at www.wendymariemartin.com
Maya Cohen, USA
I am an undergraduate college student at Tulane University with majors in Psychology and Gender and Sexuality who loves writing plays and monologues in her free time. I'm not here to make a professional career out of playwriting, but I love feedback and want to continue to write.
Joyce Fontana, USA
After four decades in healthcare and academia, Joyce Fontana, PhD, brought to fruition a lifelong ambition to write creatively. As a seasoned theater patron and parent of an actor, dabbling in play writing was a natural draw. After one of her first 10 minute play script attempts, 23 Skidoo, was selected for production at the Durango Arts Center 10 Minute Play Festival. She was hooked.
23 Skidoo. Performed at the Durango Arts Center 10 Minute Play Contest, Durango CO, September, 2013
Trail Meetups, Performed at the Manhattan Short Play Lab, New York City, October, 2014
Satellite Buddha. Performed at the Secret Theater One-Act Play Contest. Queens, New York City, September 2015
Exhibitions at a Picture, Finalist, reading at Festival 56 New Works Play Writing Competition, Princeton IL July 2016
Joyce thrives on opportunities to see her characters and dialogues come to life, but seeks constructive feedback, encouragement, and advice from masters of the art. Thus, she was delighted to be invited to the 2017 25th Annual Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez AK. Joyce works, plays, and writes in beautiful Southwest Colorado where she lives with her husband and three dogs.
Vickie Williams, USA
Vickie L. Williams is a playwright from northeast Ohio. She is a Puffin Foundation and an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award recipient. Her play Angelic Voices In Ritardando was listed as one of the top twelve in the Sky Blue International Playwright Competition, Cambridge, Great Britain and as a semi-finalist in Manhattan’s Theatre’s Estrogenius Festival.
Her productions include: Diamond In The Rough (Cleveland Public Theatre’s Station Hope and Road To Hope festivals), Imagine Freedom (CPT’s Station of Hope festival) and Commemorative
(Karamu Performing Arts Center). Her stage readings and workshops include:
Angelic Voices In Ritardando, Even The Blind Can See, Expendables, and Vigil.
Vickie has earned a B.A. in communications and has contributed works to several anthologies, the latest being, “365 WOMEN A YEAR: A PLAYWRITING PROJECT."
Sabrina Binte Masud, Bangladesh
Sabrina Binte Masud is a BBC award winning playwright, screenplay writer, fiction writer and poet writing in English in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She is one of the founding members of Brine Pickles, first English performance literature group in the country, founder of Golpokotha bilingual writer's group, an assistant professor, and a Fulbright Scholar.
Part of her development as a writer is due to BBC international playwright’s residency in London, creative writer’s workshop at University of East Anglia, UK and learning about screenplay writing while working for BBC Media Action, from Sophia Rashid, screenwriter for the East Enders.
She is one of the founding members of Brine Pickles, the first ever English Performance Literature Group in Bangladesh, as part of the Connecting Futures Project launched by the British Council. In 2005-2006, the project culminated into the Connecting Futures Creative Writers Workshop between UK and Bangladeshi young writers that resulted in the publication the English anthology Maps and Metaphors (2006). Over the years, Brine Pickles endeavors have enabled her to stage couple of her one act plays – How To Be A Monster (2004), Messed Up Me (2005), Escaping Paradise (2007), Obviously Thou Art A Hoax (2006), and Do Not Push (2014). She has done her BA in English and MA in Applied Linguistics and ELT from Dhaka University and MA, Department of African American Studies, Temple University, Philadelphia, through Fulbright Scholarship.
At present she is working as an Assistant Professor, Department of English, Eastern University. Sabrina is one of the editors and members of the publishing committee of the anthology entitled 9th Edge, Creative Writing from Bangladesh. She is also the project director for Brine Pickles for an international creative writing project (2011-2014) funded by the American Center. The project ended with the publication of an anthology Patchwork Pages (2014).
If you have a play or a reading between May 1 – May 31, please email Amy (firstname.lastname@example.org) before April 15 and it will be featured in the NOW PLAYING column of the May newsletter. Any play or reading in June will appear in the COMING SOON column.
A Heroine Free Summer by Jennifer Decker. Mildred’s Umbrella Theatre Company, Houston, Texas, USA. March 30-April 15, 2017
By Sandra de Helen
Sandra’s ten-minute piece A Grave Situation will be performed as part of SWAN Day, April 8, Athena Cats New Works Festival, in Santa Monica, California, USA
Sandra’s monologue, Common as a Loaf of Bread will be read April 11 as part of Diversionary Theatre's WordPlay Tuesday series. San Diego, California, USA
Alan Woods’s ten-minute play Not the Delany Sisters will be performed by THAT’s for Seniors in Holland, Manitoba, as part of “Gettin’ On” on April 9, 2017.
April 24-27, Robin Rice’s And Then The Elements Spoke Articulate Theatre, Articulating the Arts, T.Schreiber Theatre, New York, NY USA
Member Melba Larose’s ”marathon multicultural, multidisciplinary, multimedia play” After the Wall about walls around the world and throughout time is being read at Plays & Pizza at Lucky Jack's the next being April 24th at 7:30 pm. They are also read at Times Square Playwrights every Tuesday night. New York, NY USA
In the Restroom and Rosenblooms (Full length comedy) by Ludmilla Bollow April 21, 22, 23, 28, 29 - (7 performances) Memories Ballroom Dinner Theatre, Port Washington, Wisconsin USA
An Elizabethan Progress by Amy Drake at the South-Central Renaissance Conference, Austin, TX, Apr. 21, 2017.
Jamie Pachino’s play Other Than Honorable opens at Geva Theatre on April 29th. Previews begin April 26th. It's directed by Kimberly Senior. Rochester, NY USA
Articles of Interest
Broadway World provides a window into world theatre, with tickets to shows in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa.
Theatre in Paris makes French productions accessible to English-speaking audiences via projected subtitles.
The Goethe Institute celebrates the creativity and diversity of German theater and performance.
Spain’s Microteatro began a micro-theatre trend that’s spreading abroad.
The National Theatre of Greece offers an eclectic mix of classics and modern experimental work.
Meet the Board
President: Sophia Romma
Playwright/Producing Artistic Director, Dr. Romma is the author of fourteen stage-plays which have been produced Off-Off Broadway and Off-Broadway, three of which have been produced at La MaMa E.T.C. Her play, "The Past Is Still Ahead," which she co-directed with legendary Swiss director, François Rochaix, has been performed at the Cherry Lane Theatre, praised by critics at the Midtown International Theater Festival and toured London, Moscow, Montreal and Seoul. The Negro Ensemble Company presented Romma’s "The Mire" at the Cherry Lane Theatre, directed by Charles Weldon of the NEC, which Andrew Webster of the New York Times heralded for “grinding down stubborn cultural borders with love’s symphony.” Romma’s Off-Broadway musical, “Cabaret Émigré,” was lauded by The Villager for her heart-wrenching, brave theatrical voice: “Romma has crafted an erotic American Vernacular in quantum verse, delving deep into the dislocated émigré’s soul.” Dr. Romma is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (M.F.A) and has received her Ph.D. in Philology at the prestigious Maxim Gorky Literature Institute. Romma served as Literary Manager of the Negro Ensemble Company. She is currently the Producing Artistic Director of The O’Neill Film and Theatrical Foundation. (www.theoneillfilmandtheatricalfoundation.com).
Vice President: Patricia L. Morin
Patricia L. Morin, MA, LCSW, and VP of the International Centre for Women Playwrights, began playwriting in 2011. After having four mystery short stories published, and loving theatre, she began writing plays. Her first short play, The Gatekeeper swept 2012 Fringe of Marin award, and was later voted one of the best plays in their twenty-five year history (2016). It wasn’t until joining ICWP that she realized the depth and breath of women’s issues worldwide, many not being heard, in all areas, but especially theatre. She is proud to be a part of an organization that strives to have those voices be heard.
To learn more about Pat :www.patricialmorin.com
Vice President: Amy Drake
Amy Drake is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Board member of the International Centre for Women Playwrights and Theatre Communications Group. Amy’s plays have been performed in New York, Chicago, and other US cities. Her recent play, Eyes like Opaque Gems, was voted Most Popular Play in the Midtown International Theater Festival (MITF) Short Play Lab, NYC. Home Body received a staged reading at The Ohio State University New Works Lab in 2015 and was nominated for four awards in MITF, New York. She was voted Theatre Roundtable Best Director for Night Must Fall and was assistant director for the Actors’ Theatre production of Servant of Two Masters, which ranked among The Columbus Dispatch Top-10 shows of 2012. Amy is also a stage actor and director, commercial actor, an author, academic writer, conference speaker, and poet. She holds a B.A. from Ohio Dominican University and a M.S. degree in marketing and communication from Franklin University. Her education includes play writing, creative writing and history summer programs at Cambridge University, UK, Reed Hall, Paris, Kenyon (College) Summer Institute, and Yale University.
Secretary: Sharon Wallace
Sharon Wallace is a Playwright and Poet with a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a concentration in Humanities and Culture from Union Institute and University. Her dissertation topic is African American Playwrights and the Empowerment of Black Women. Sharon earned a Masters of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in Playwriting from Goddard College. She has a Masters degree in Liberal Studies with a concentration in English from The University of Detroit Mercy, and earned a Bachelors degree in English Literature at Marygrove College. Sharon is a full-time professor in the English department at Wayne County Community College District.
Representative Plays: Long Way Home; 1967A Life of its Own, and Outside the Lions Paw.
Treasurer: Rita Barkey
Rita is a playwright and fiction writer who believes in 50/50 gender parity in today’s theaters, so she offers her time and service to ICWP. She resides in Western Montana where she formed the Zoola Writers playwrights collective to support the production of brave, new work.Over a dozen of her own plays have been produced around the U.S., and she holds an MFA from The Ohio State University.
Representative plays: The Trigger Gene, The Lieutenant Nun’s Tale
Board Member: Lucia Verona
Born in Arad, Romania, in 1949, Lucia Verona had dreamed of becoming an opera diva, studied at the Music Academy in Bucharest, then moved on and started writing. She is now a well-known playwright, with many plays produced, published and awarded major prizes, some of them translated and performed in France and the USA. She is also a successful author of fiction, her novels and short stories being well liked by critics and well bought (and loved) by the readers. Her latest books, “Crime at the Jubilee”, “Crimes at the Festival”, “Murder in the Old City” and “Death Comes to the First Night” are bestseller mystery writings with a celebrated opera diva as a private investigator. She is also known as a translator of Shakespeare's plays into Romanian. Since August 2016 she has been an advisor to the Mayor of Bucharest and a few weeks ago she was appointed manager of a new theatre in Bucharest – The Romanian Playwrights Theatre.
Member of the Romanian Writers’ Union since 1989, Member of the ICWP since 2006.
Her website and blog is partly written in English. (www.luciaverona.ro).
Board Member: Eliza Wyatt
Eliza Wyatt is a Gemini writer, who writes mostly plays but has been known to stray into poetry and prose writing. She has been active in the Boston scene for a number of years but is presently to be found in Brighton, England where she has just finished an autobiographical novel entitled The Mother Cluebook. She says she became a playwright after working in a literary agency in London, meeting many notable playwrights and seeing memorable plays.
Board Member: Karin Williams
Karin is a playwright and screenwriter whose work has been produced by San Diego's Fritz Theater (where she served as playwright-in-residence from 1992-2001), NYC's Looking Glass Theater, Art House Productions, Space 55, Long Island Theatre Collective, New York New Works Festival, Flush Ink! Productions, the Gertrude Stein Repertory Theatre Digital Performance Institute, Lamia Ink!, CollaboractionTheater, Boston Theaterworks, and many more. As a partner in the motion media company CulpepperWilliams, she wrote and produced "The Captive" (Webby People's Choice Award & NYTVF "Best Web Series" Award) and the independent feature "Jordan." Her plays are available through Original Works Publishing and YouthPlays.
I became a playwright because I believe drama communicates our wisdom and values as a culture, and I wanted to contribute to that conversation. I also believe women's voices need to be heard on an equal basis with men's, and women playwrights need to stand up and claim their power as artists. I'm proud to be a board member of an organization that has been supporting and empowering women for over 25 years.
Board Member: Mona Curtis
Mona Curtis is a self-taught artist and playwright. Her play The Postmodernist was workshopped in the Seven Devils Playwright’s Conference and produced in the Summer 2016 Mid-Town International Theatre Festival. She writes plays because scenes, situations, and dialogues well up inside her and it it joyous to be able to put them all together into a work of art. She is a student of all art and also enjoys computers and graphic design. So she has been the ICWP volunteer newsletter editor for at least four years, a process she has grown to love. She thinks ICWP is one of the most supportive organizations on the planet and is honored to be a part of it. She has a B.A. in English and a M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Lanugage from the University of Idaho. She lives and works in China.
Welcome New Board Member: Lillian S. Cauldwell
Ms. Lillian S. Cauldwell has interviewed numerous bestselling fiction and nonfiction authors on the national acclaimed phone group tour, PBP Playback Producers. She has also been a Media Advisor at The National Publicity Summit in New York Ciity at the request of Steve Harrison. For the past four years, Ms. Cauldwell has interviewed national and international authors in person and by telephone for the Miami International Book Festival.
Lillian S. Cauldwell is known in the Media Industry as ‘Passionate’ and ‘Getting Things done!’
For the past several years, Ms. Cauldwell has written theater of the absurd and black comedy plays. In addition, she has ghost-written blogs for top business executives including inter-active e-books from articles, blogs, commentaries, letters-to-the-editors, and vlogs for top business executives and authors. She helps business individuals master the techniques of presentation and interpersonal skills.
Clients engaged Ms. Lillian S. Cauldwell for her honesty, integrity, passion, getting things done, 25 years of research skills, 10 years of audio streaming and interviewing, versatility, communication and interpersonal skills.
Welcome New Member
MT Cozzola is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists. Her plays have been produced and/or developed at Chicago Dramatists; The Side Project; The Fine Print Theatre; Victory Gardens; Donny’s Skybox; La MaMa ETC; The Ruckus; and other theatres. Commissions: Working Women’s History Project; Step Up Productions; The Side Project; and Something Marvelous: A Festival of Magical Realism. Honors: Winner, Heartland Theatre’s 2015 New Plays from the Heartland; 2015 Equity Library Showcase Finalist; 2014 Illinois Arts Council Award; Residencies at La MaMa Umbria, Ragdale, and Playa. She is represented by The Robert A. Freedman Dramatic Agency.
Now Playing & Coming Soon
If you have a play or a reading between April 1 – April 30, please email Amy (email@example.com) before March 15 and it will be featured in the NOW PLAYING column of the April newsletter. Any play or reading in Mayl will appear in the COMING SOON column.
By Christine Emmert
When Gertrude Came to Play will be part of the SHE SPEAKS festival in Kitchener, Ontario, CANADA, March 4 & 5.
Fragile Freedom will be shown on March 18th and From Out the Fiery Furnace will be shown on March 25th atHopewell Furnace National Park Visitor’s Center, Birdsboro, Pennsylvania USA
Say No More (an adaptation of Strindberg's “The Stronger”) will be presented at Phoenixville Library on March 30th, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, USA
By Robin Rice
Alice in Black and White, March 9-18, Looking for Lilith Theatre Co., Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Lust & Lies, March 15, 365-NYC. Encore Theatre for the New City, New York, USA
The short play BUDFUD129ZK (about a woman scientist in the future) will be part of TheFuture Is Female Festival in NYC on March 22 (7:30, Bernie Wohl Center).
By Katherine Koller
The Lost Goddess is part of The Mommy Monologues, produced by SkirtsAfire Her Arts Festival in Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA, March 2-12, 2017.
A staged reading of Riverkeeper is presented by Alumnae Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, CANADA, as part of the New Ideas Festival on March 11, 2017.
Ludmilla Bollow’s full-length comedy, In the Restroom at Rosenblooms March 3-5 - Shelby Community Theatre - Shelby KY, USA
And So ... by Patricia L. Morin will be a part of Flush Ink Production's SHE SPEAKS-WOMEN'S WORKS, WOMEN'S WORDS festival March 4th and 5th in Waterloo, Ontario, CANADA.
The Nearly Final Almost Posthumous Play of the Not-Quite-Dead Sutton McAllister by Kristine Bauske, March 10-26, Tennessee Stage Company, Knoxville, Tenn. USA
A Heroine Free Summer by Jennifer Decker. Mildred’s Umbrella Theatre Company, Houston, Texas, USA. March 30-April 15, 2017
World Premier Reading of Cortex Kin by Elana Gartner. March 10, 7:30 p.m. Dixon Place, New York, NY USA
A Kitten by Any Other Name by Marjorie Conn March 3, 4, & 5 at The Producers’ Club Theaters, New York City, USA
March 10-11-12, the world premiere of Precious Bane Musical by Geralyn Horton, Needham Community Theater, Needham, Massachusetts, USA
Alan Woods’s ten-minute play Not the Delany Sisters will be performed by THAT’s for Seniors in Holland, Manitoba, as part of “Gettin’ On” on April 9, 2017.
In the Restroom and Rosenblooms (Full length comedy) by Ludmilla Bollow April 21, 22, 23, 28, 29 - (7 performances) Memories Ballroom Dinner Theatre, Port Washington, Wisconsin USA
A Heroine Free Summer by Jennifer Decker. Mildred’s Umbrella Theatre Company, Houston, Texas, USA. March 30-April 15, 2017
Yours for innovative, engaging and equitable theater,
P.S. We are looking for a European playwright (not UK or Eastern Europe) for the April newsletter. Please feel free to nominate someone or self nominate.
Help keep the ICWP 50/50 Applause Award alive!
We're launching a Generosity Campaign to fund the 2017 50/50 Applause Award. We need your help.
Click Here to go to the Generosity Campaign
A Short History of the 50/50 Applause Award
From an ICWP listserv conversation thread back in 2007-2009, collective minds discussed the evidence-based worldwide discrimination against female playwrights, including the cultural consequences for society and the financial effects experienced by female playwrights. Emily Glassberg Sands released a study called “Opening the Curtain on Playwright Gender,” which showed that only 18% of the productions done in the United States in 2008 were female playwrights. Research statistics continued to dribble out over different news medias at that time.
What could we, the International Centre for Women Playwrights, with the mission to support women playwrights worldwide and bring attention to their work, do to increase the number of women-authored plays on professional stages? Suggestions ranged from blacklisting theatres that produced all-male or male-dominated seasons to publishing a list of theatres that practiced gender equity and applaud them. An idea was floated that we could give awards to those theatres!
ICWP expanded, from its first International Women Playwrights conference in 1988 in Buffalo, NY, where two hundred women playwrights from thirty countries around the world attended.
ICWP developed more internet based programs to service the community and in 2000 a separate sister organization, Women Playwrights International, continued to organize the inspirational triennial International Women Playwright Conferences in countries around the world.
However, over time, more issues were raised on the Listserv discussions and more research studies emerged from Canada, Australia, and the UK, illustrating the male bias in theatre. (Some of those research results can be read in the statement for the Generosity campaign.)
Why was the work of women playwrights underrepresented? Why was this issue so important? Because productions result in more professional and career development for playwrights: more commissions, more residencies, more travel, more publications, and more book sales, which results in more productions. It is an economic cycle from which many talented female playwrights are excluded.
So Elana Gartner, co-chair Rebecca Osborne, and Deborah Magid, created the 50/50 Applause Award program. In the first year, 2011-2012, five theatres received the award, all within the United States. And as Dr. Jennifer Munday, president of the ICWP during those years, stated, “These companies need special thanks for the integrity of their decision making.”
In the following years, with Kris Bauske (50/50 Award video director) as co-chair, and Margaret McSeveney as Communication Manager, the bar was raised bringing the 50/50 through different levels. An Award Committee was formed and volunteers donated their precious time. Kris introduced a video component.
By 2016, the 50/50 program awarded 107 certificates to theatres in 10 countries on 5 continents! According to the Playwrights Guild of Canada’s Annual Theatre Production Survey (2015), out of 812 productions in the 2013/14 season, 63% were written by men, 22% by women, and 15% by mixed gender partnerships. We are gaining slowly.
We have stretched the resources of the volunteer team who administer the Award and research, vet and organize the information for each theatre. We’ve had to invest in more IT such as the online database. The program has outgrown the capacity that a volunteer team can provide. This year we need monetary support to sustain the growth of the program.
What has happened as a result of the 50/50 Applause Award?
We raised the awareness throughout the theatre community, and caused theatre professionals to engage in dialog about gender disparity. We have partnered with multiple organizations to increase visibility for women playwrights in multiple countries. And, percentages of productions for women-authored plays have risen in most of the regions in the world.
As you read more about the program in the Generosity campaign page, on the right column, you can see where the money is spent, and what your dollars will support.
The campaign will run from March 3 to April 7th. Please share the Generosity link with your friends, family, and community.
These are some of the main players in the development of the 50/50 Award. However MANY members contributed MANY hours of time and effort. Time and space do not allow us to mention them all.
Margaret McSeveney is a Scottish writer of plays, poems and short stories. She has been a member of ICWP since 1997. She has supported ICWP, serving on theBoard of Trustees and at different times, as List moderator, Webmaster, Secretary, Vice-President and President. Her involvement in the establishment of the 50/50 Applause Awards grew out of discussions on the ICWP Listserv around 2007 - 2009 when various research reports about the lack of gender equity in theatre were published in the USA, the UK and other countries around the world.
Kris Bauske holds a B.A. in English from the University of Michigan. Her first play, A Good Old Fashioned, Redneck Country Christmas, written in 2008, garnered national attention and is published by Samuel French. It has been adapted for the stage as a musical and is represented by Gary DaSilva, as are all her works. The musical is also published by Samuel French, Inc. A Good Old Fashioned Redneck Country Wedding, the long-awaited sequel to Redneck Christmas is also published by Samuel French. The screenplay for Redneck Christmas, written by Kris, is in development with Lenz Entertainment of Toronto. The expected release date of the full-length feature film is November 2018.
Kris is a full member of the Dramatist’s Guild of America, International Centre for Women Playwrights, Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, and the Theatre Communications Group. She was nominated for the 2011, 2013, & 2015 Francesca Primus award presented by ATCA for Outstanding Emerging Female Playwright. Kris was co-chair for the prestigious ICWP 2014, 2015, & 2016 50/50 Applause Awards. She continues to write, produce, and direct from her home near Orlando, FL where she mentors other writers and playwrights offering advice, editing, and a shoulder to cry on as needed.
Internationally produced and recognized playwright Elana Gartner has written Because of Beth (Howick Little Theatre; The Workshop Theater), Daughter (UpTheater Company; PlayLab Selection, 2013 Great Plains Theatre Conference), Pilar’s Brother (Repertorio Español), Cortex Kin (Upcoming: Dixon Place), Spinning (Fabrefaction Theater Company), and Ernie Evan (Genesis Repertory Theater; Heights Players, 6x10 Festival). Two monologues from Elana’s plays Daughter and Because of Beth were published in “Audition Monologues for Young Women #2: More Contemporary Auditions for Aspiring Actresses “(Meriwether Publishing, Ltd., 2013). Elana founded the EMG Playwriting Workshop which has fostered a supportive community for playwrights since 2004. She helped to edit a second edition of “You Can Write A Play!” by Milton E. Polsky. Elana co-founded the International Centre for Women Playwrights 50/50 Applause Awards and served on the ICWP board for five years. Elana is a graduate of Oberlin College with a degree in Creative Writing and a member of the Dramatists Guild.
The 50/50 Applause Award is a huge undertaking, but due to the extraordinary dedication of our membership, we have made a genuine impact in the theatre world.
Yours for innovative, engaging and equitable theater,
As an Iranian playwright I joined ICWP in 2016. My favorite western playwright is Bertolt Brecht, and my favorite Iranian playwrights are Bahram Beyzaie and Gholam-Hossein Sa'adi. I concentrate on women’s issues and all my plays are about these issues. I am a lawyer and hold an LL.M degree in law.
Nowadays because of the global media everyone knows more or less about the women’s condition in the Middle East. In most countries in this area the rules and laws treat women as the inferior gender and deprive them partly or completely from a great part of human rights; access to education, jobs, as well as cultural and social positions. Marriage in childhood, no right or restricted right to divorce and custody of children are also some of the women’s difficulties.
On the other hand during the past forty years in different countries of the Middle East war has brought these women rape, loss of family, and homelessness with the young children. Despite these hardships, they are on their own and can manage their lives without any support from the society or others. They struggle with obstacles, and try hard to find a way for progress.
Some of them are even in high positions in the society for example, university professors, physicians, authors and senior managers. Now I am happy to have this opportunity to send my voice through ICWP to women playwrights across the world and propose to them to write a short play about the difficulties and the abilities of the women in the Middle East as expressing solidarity with them.
I hope my voice is heard and a collection of these plays will be published or be online.
Eliza Wyatt writes:
As an old time member of the ICWP I get excited when a new member joins from half way across the globe. Mahin Mohasseb lives in Teheran, Iran and I’m honoured to write a Spotlight for her.
She’s not only an important lawyer, but a prolific playwright. I have read the synopses of twelve of her plays and she has ideas for many more. Although the plays have not yet been produced, they have been published and are on sale in bookshops in Teheran and can be read in libraries in Teheran.
Mahin confided to me that she never wanted to be famous but now she would like her work to be produced and translated if possible. She began writing as a result of her legal work. She wrote books about human rights but felt that people did not take them seriously. I’m sure she shares with all writers the frustrations of trying to appeal to people who live stressful lives and seem to have little time or patience for the weightier issues.
Mahin Mohasseb then turned to writing her legal cases out as plays. She’s naturally interested in dialogue and argument but it is obvious that her plays go beyond mere legal cases. Her favourite play is Mirage, set in an eternal present in a woodland setting. A young female student meets a Spiritual Master and learns that he is not in love with earthly things but with a heavenly Beloved. This love of the Supreme Being, however, is a special kind of love and the Spiritual Master is lacking the other, physical, kind and he tells her that he needs this physical release to calm himself.
Although I have not read the play, since it is not yet translated, their encounter sounds like the beginning of a tragedy as the young student has to defend herself when attacked. Reading the blurbs of all twelve plays, I was particularly taken with Wedding Dress, about a father who uses his absolute authority over his daughter, and The Empty Seats about two prostitutes who are defending themselves in court.
Both these plays are in the collection Cherry Earring, and I look forward to them being translated. I have been fortunate enough to attend performances of Iranian theatre when I was married to my Iranian husband. The first time, forty years ago, I saw a traditional comedy starring a Falstaffian character. In 2004 I saw a play set in Iran in 1950 which was a family drama detailing the change in Iranian culture and social life. I believe the play was set in Abadan, the oil producing area in Iran.
A country’s theatre has, necessarily, to reflect what is happening in that country and the quality of theatre, as we know in England, varies greatly even in a couple of decades. Plays and playgoers undergo a great deal of change throughout the centuries. The theatre changed drastically during Shakespeare’s time, until you could almost believe his plays were out-of-date. As a thinking philosopher and writer, Shakespeare will never go out of date. The work of the best playwrights are always more than the sum of their country’s experience. I’m sure this will be the case with Mahin and that her work will last as long as the best.
Mary Bonnett, USA
Mary Bonnett (Producing Artistic Director) created and cofounded Her Story Theater. Creator and director of Gloss Over, The Sex Trafficking Cycle: Shadow Town, The Johns, Money Make’m Smile, Mongers, and Cide Show. She has won numerous awards for excellence and outstanding contributions in professional theater, writing, directing, and theater education. Her plays and directing have been seen in Chicago theaters, universities and venues. She speaks regularly to various organizations across Illinois on sex trafficking and the impact the current culture has on our youth. Mary has appeared on television and radio shows, championing the need for change in laws to protect our children and women.
Under Mary's leadership, Her Story Theater has raised thousands of dollars for its partner organizations. Recently, Mary developed The Short Series: an evening of play performance and workshop. The first presentation was Court Side in partnership with Federal Judge Virginia Kendall. The play and workshop focused on the trauma based behavior and journey of the sex trafficked victim. Two more customized works are in the making for medical and law enforcement.
Beyond Chicago campaign, created by Mary, was designed to invite a participating theater and anti-trafficking organization to produce one or all of the Sex Trafficking Cycle plays to raise awareness in their community. The first to step forward on this new endeavor was Houston, Texas. The Johns will be presented at Mildred’s Umbrella Theater and partner with 3 Houston anti trafficking organizations in time for Super Bowl 2017.
Money Make’m Smile is part of a partnership with the Chicago Teachers Union in developing sex trafficking curriculum and workshop for educators which Mary leads. She is an active member in the anti-trafficking community serving on various panels and advocating city wide for change. Mary and Her Story Theater were honored with the Illinois State Senate Award for Outstanding Work In Raising Awareness on the Issue of Sex Trafficking.
She has written the novel, Alabastard of The Mound...literary fiction set in 1930 Mississippi and completed her children's novel The Adventures of Cleaver and Whizjam. Mary is a member of SAG-AFTRA, SCBWI, CWIP, American Dramatist Guild NYC. Her Story Theater is a proud member of The Chicago League of Theaters.
Mary holds a BFA in Theater Arts, BFA in English Literature, MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, England.
BACKSTAGE.COM voted Mary’s theater as the Top Ten Best International Theaters that Change Lives”. Her play SHADOW TOWN was voted “One of the Top Ten Best Plays Of The Year” by Chicago Theater Beat.
Katie Walenta, USA
Katie Walenta fell in love with words almost as soon as she could speak them. The way they weave together, tell stories, and reveal the intimate details about ourselves has always been fascinating. Something about the dramatic structure, what is seen and unseen, called to her. She now attends New York University - Tisch School of the Arts where she studies Dramatic Writing.
Marlene Burrell, USA
My name is Marlene Burrell. I am a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I am a playwright currently living in Charlotte.
If you have a play or a reading between March 1 – March 31, please email Amy (firstname.lastname@example.org) before Feburary 15 and it will be featured in the NOW PLAYING column of the March newsletter. Any play or reading in April will appear in the COMING SOON column.
And So ... by Patricia L. Morin will be a part of Flush Ink Production's SHE SPEAKS-WOMEN'S WORKS, WOMEN'S WORDS festival March 3rd and 4th in Waterloo, Ontario, CANADA.
The Lost Goddess by Katherine Koller is part of The Mommy Monologues, produced by SkirtsAfire Her Arts Festival in Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA, from 2-12 March, 2017.
A staged reading of Riverkeeper by Katherine Koller is presented by Alumnae Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, CANADA, as part of the New Ideas Festival on March 11, 2017.
Ludmilla Bollow’s full-length comedy, “In the Restroom at Rosenblooms” March 3-5 - Shelby Community Theatre - Shelby KY, USA
Arab Stages is an online journal broadening international awareness of performance cultures in the Arab-Islamic world.
The Arab Puppet Theatre Foundation teaches puppetry and encourages new development in this traditional art form.
The Middle Eastern Theatre Academy trains talented young performers from across the middle east.
Noor Theatre in NYC is dedicated to developing producing the work of theatre artists of Middle Eastern descent.
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