Great theatre consists of great storytelling, yet many beautiful, powerful stories go unheard due to barriers faced by talented women playwrights, particularly women of other cultures.
On the last weekend of March 2016, to inaugurate our twenty-fifth season, Ashland New Plays Festival presented the ANPF Women’s Invitational—dramatic readings of the three winning plays received from 50 of the nation’s best playwrights.
By offering this platform for women to present their work, we aimed to help lift these barriers and offer theatregoers a unique opportunity to experience the rich talent and compelling perspectives that women bring to storytelling.
Says Artistic Director Kyle Haden: “As an incubator for new plays, to help the next great plays come to fruition, we want to make sure we’re drawing stories from all the best playwrights. There are a lot of stories out there that aren’t being told and viewpoints that aren’t being represented. Since women are the largest group to be under-represented in theatre today, shouldn’t we start with them first?”
Women’s Invitational News and Announcements from 2016
We are delighted and thrilled to announce that all three of the winning plays from the Women’s Invitational were selected for world premiere productions by major regional theaters. You can see Martyna Majok’s “Cost of Living” at Williamstown Theatre in Massachusetts summer 2016 and Lauren Yee’s “King of the Yees” in Chicago during the Goodman Theatre‘s 2017 season. Jiehae Park’s “Hannah and the Dread Gazebo” will be part of Oregon Shakespeare Festival‘s 2017 season. #OSF2017
Video: Oregon Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Bill Rauch announces “Hannah and the Dread Gazebo” for the #OSF2017 season.
Parity, A Playwrights Roundtable
On March 23, 2016, ANPF delved into a thought-provoking discussion with five of the country’s top women playwrights offering their perspectives on why the stories of women and minorities have largely gone untold in American theater, what it means, and how they are working to change it.
Location: Meese Auditorium on the SOU campus
“Parity: a Playwrights Roundtable” featured the three ANPF Women’s Invitational winning playwrights, together with Laura Jacqmin of The Kilroys and EM Lewis, ANPF host playwright. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Lue Morgan Douthit, Interim Director of Literary Development and Dramaturgy, Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF).
“All of the women participating in the roundtable have acted in, written and directed plays, or have held major roles in theater around the country,” says Laura Jacqmin, chair of the Women’s Invitational. “They represent an astonishing array of talent, and they are carving out a place in American theater. But there are many other talented people whose work continues to be unheard and unseen.”
From Jiehae Park, winning playwright of “Hannah and the Dread Gazebo”, which will have its world premier at #OSF2017:
“The thing missing, the gap that needs to be closed, is less about the absence of the stories and more about audiences not getting to hear and see all these stories that are already out there, but not being produced.”
Tune in with Laura Jacqmin on Jefferson Exchange
Laura Jacqmin is a Chicago-based playwright, TV writer, and video game writer. She is a co-founder of The Kilroys as well as the winner of the 2008 Wasserstein Prize, a $25,000 award given to recognize an emerging female playwright. She graduated cum laude from Yale University and earned an MFA from Ohio University.
Also during the Women’s Invitational, Laura was part of Parity, A Playwrights Roundtable, hosted by Dr. Lue Morgan Douthit at Meese Auditorium (SOU campus) on Wednesday, March 23, at 7:00 p.m. as well as instructed a free Playwrights Workshop with fellow teacher and playwright EM Lewis on Saturday, March 26, at 10:00 a.m. The workshop was free thanks to sponsorship from the Dramatists Guild Fund’s Traveling Masters Program. For more information, click the links above with details about each event or see and share the full schedule here.
Interviews with the Playwrights
Writer Mary Silva spoke with each of the Women’s Invitational playwrights about their writing, inspirations, and excitement about seeing their plays performed in the dramatic readings directed by Penny Metropulos, Holly L. Derr and Terri McMahon with some of our finest actors. Read the full article here.
“Each play is its own little planet, with its own sense of gravity, its own sense of time and language. But all of my plays live in a place somewhere between funny and sad.” — Lauren Yee, King of the Yees
Audience Voices from Women’s Invitational 2016
“What I loved about this set of plays is what I love at ANPF –exposure to new, independent, unique voices of very high quality.”
“Great addition to the Ashland cultural scene.Fantastic to support women writers and give them a place to be heard.”
“Love being a part of the new plays venue in Ashland.The festival makes this little town an even bigger draw for tourists.As a resident, I feel proud!”
“Amazing support and platform for wonderfulnew voices in American storytelling.”
“I loved this event because it features female playwrights.Women tend to get the short end of the stick in theater andI am glad to see more opportunities for them.”
Directors for the Women’s Invitational
Meet the directors for the ANPF Women’s Invitational winning plays. They are Holly Derr for King of the Yees; Terri McMahon for Hannah and the Dread Gazebo; and, Penny Metropulos for Cost of Living.
Holly L. Derr is a writer, director, and professor of theatre specializing in viewpoints and composition, the performance of gender, and applied theater history. Her most recent production, Harry and the Thief by Sigrid Gilmer, ran at The Know Theatre of Cincinnati. She is currently an artist-in-residence at Skidmore College.
Originally from Dallas, Texas, Holly holds an MFA in directing from Columbia University and a BA in theatre from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Terri McMahon was seen last season as Tracey in OSF’s production of Sweat and Mrs. Stiles, Nurse Spiller, Prison Matron, and Ensemble in Fingersmith. In 23 seasons at OSF, roles have included Lady Bird Johnson in The Great Society and All The Way; Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Widow in The Taming of the Shrew; Beline in The Imaginary Invalid; and, many more.
Terri was an actor-teacher in OSF’s School Visit Program (1984–2005). She holds a BFA from the University of Southern California and is a member of Actors’ Equity Association.
Penny Metropulos adapted (with Linda Alper) and will direct OSF’s production of Great Expectations this season. In 20 seasons at OSF, other adaptations with Linda Alper include The Three Musketeers; Tracy’s Tiger; and The Comedy of Errors (A Musical).
Penny has been an instructor, lecturer or director at numerous universities and theatre programs. She was educated at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and Dallas Theater Center Academy.
3 Women, 3 Plays: One Extraordinary Week!
Here is the full schedule for the ANPF Women’s Invitational 2016 event, representing the result of our search for exciting, unproduced plays from America’s best playwrights. We were so proud to bring the three winning playwrights to Ashland for dramatic readings of their remarkable plays.
March 22, 2016 at 5:30 p.m.
Opening Reception for the Winning Playwrights
With Host Bill Rauch
By Invitation for ANPF Members Only
March 23, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.
Parity, A Playwrights Roundtable
Moderated by Dr. Lue Morgan Douthit
Meese Auditorium on the
Southern Oregon University Campus
March 26, 2016 at 10:00 a.m.
A Playwrights Workshop
Presented by Laura Jacqmin and EM Lewis
Sponsored by the Dramatists Guild Fund Traveling Masters Program
Headwaters Building, 84 4th Street, Ashland
Free ~ Reserve your space with gray(at)ashlandnewplays(dot)org
March 25 through March 27, 2016
Matinee and Evening Performances
Music Recital Hall on the SOU Campus
See all three plays and save $5
Reserved seating at $22 | $20 | $18
Friday, March 25
1:30 p.m. Cost of Living by Martyna Majok
Directed by Penny Metropulos
7:30 p.m. King of the Yees by Lauren Yee
Directed by Holly L. Derr
Saturday, March 26
1:30 p.m. Hannah and the Dread Gazebo by Jiehae Park
Directed by Terri McMahon
7:30 p.m. Cost of Living by Martyna Majok
Directed by Penny Metropulos
Sunday, March 27
1:30 p.m. King of the Yees by Lauren Yee
Directed by Holly L. Derr
7:30 p.m. Hannah and the Dread Gazebo by Jiehae Park
Directed by Terri McMahon
The Next Generation
ANPF Artistic Director Kyle Haden believes strongly in giving a voice to writers who might otherwise be overlooked.
‘Women and minorities have long been under-represented in American theater; the [Women’s] Invitational is a step in changing that,’ he says. ‘I am passionate about diversity and inclusion, and we need to tell different kinds of stories. There is something great about reading a story about a different culture or experience and finding something in that we can relate to. It brings us closer together…
It’s great that these top playwrights are coming to the Rogue Valley…It’s an awesome opportunity for people to be involved in the next generation of theater. This is an opportunity to help these playwrights develop their stories in a supportive environment, with experienced and knowledgeable audiences. It’s always exciting to watch someone grow and develop, and Ashland is the perfect place for it.’
Excerpts from article by Mary Silva in Sneak Preview Ashland
Support Equity ~ Share Stories from Everyone
Theatre is a microcosm of society at large, and gender parity is still a huge problem. ANPF Women’s Invitational is our way to contribute to addressing the equity issue, and we do it because we feel compelled to share stories from everyone.
“…the more that women’s voices are heard, the closer theater comes to representing the full human experience.”
– Quote from Don Aucoin’s article in the Boston Globe: Theater needs more stories by women, about women
When this article appeared in December 2014, ANPF president James Pagliasotti wrote in (and was published):
As Don Aucoin’s article illustrates, gender parity is a compelling issue that should command the attention of everyone in theater. Ashland New Plays Festival in Ashland, Ore., just completed its 23d season presenting dramatic readings to enthusiastic audiences of four plays. The works were selected from blind readings of hundreds sent us by playwrights around the country. Approximately one in five we received were from women. Not surprisingly, all four winning plays were written by men. Last year, three of four winners were men.
We need more women playwrights to send us their work. That is a critical first step toward change.
Others Working to Support Women Playwrights
Read some of the articles and learn about the groups which inspire us:
Siskiyou Singers – On May 7 and 8, the spring concerts of the Ashland-based choral choir Siskiyou Singers will be devoted to women composers. “Out of the Shadows: Shedding Light On Women Composers” will be a unique opportunity to hear the voices of innovative women who too often have been overlooked in the concert hall just as women playwrights have been under-represented in theatre.
The Kilroys – Taking action on gender parity in theater, The Kilroys mobilize others in their field to promote and support each other. They also produce an “annual industry survey of excellent new plays by female and trans* playwrights…a tool for producers committed to ending the systemic underrepresentation of female and trans* playwrights in the American theater.”
USITT – “The United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) is committed to modeling diversity and inclusion for the entertainment industry.”
And, many more. Check this space for updates of our links list.
Thank you: Women’s Invitational 2016
We extend our sincerest thanks to you: playwrights, actors, directors, stage managers, ANPF staff, volunteers, audience members, donors, partners, and more! Each performance was a powerful exploration of the human experience, with magic, mystery, family connections, and inner explorations. We were very pleased and humbled to journey through these stories with everyone.