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Rounding Up #TheSummit

16 Mar

On Feb 17, 2014, Peter Marks of The Washington Post hosted an event called The Summit — it was a public conversation with several of D.C.’s leading artistic directors. As Peter noted in an article for The Washington Post, “Several months ago, Molly Smith, artistic director of Arena Stage, approached me with an intriguing offer: organizing and moderating a series of discussions, with theater people and topics of my choosing, onstage before an audience at her theater.” It was the first of three planned public fora — the others are scheduled for March 24 (focusing on actors), and April 28 (playwrights and directors). The event with Artistic Directors was not livestreamed, but it was live-tweeted by several attendees, chief among them Elissa Goetschiusartistic director of Baltimore’s Strand Theater. It’s probably fair to say that no one involved expected the event to blow up twitter as it did that evening, nor to spark a renewal of the national conversation on gender parity and representation on American stages.

In an effort to capture the vast amount of conversation that evening on twitter, and to bank Elissa’s excellent live-tweet reportage, I created a Storify (a kind of twitter narrative) of the tweets using the hashtag #TheSummit, which you can find HERE.

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There was a tidal wave of response to #TheSummit, and I’m using this space to attempt to catalogue it for future reference. If I’ve missed an article of note, please let me know in the comments section.

• Elissa Goetschius wrote a narrative account of The Summit for 2AMT: “Climbing #TheSummit”

• DC Theatre Scene’s account, by Brett Steven Ableman

• Brett Steven Abelman continued on the subject via his personal blog:  “Season Programming and Personal Agency”

• MD Theatre Guide: “Through Lines: The Summit Part 1 — The State of Washington Theatre”

• Christine Evans: “Cumulative Advantage and Women Playwrights”

• WE EXIST, an open-source list of female playwrights, initiated as a response comments at The Summit that women playwrights weren’t “in the pipeline” that runs to major stages for production.

• Holly Derr for HowlRound.com: “The Myth of the American Theatre Pipeline”

• It was already in the works when The Summit happened, but Boston playwright Patrick Gabridge’s count of the Boston area theatre season (looking at gender and ethnic diversity for playwrights and directors) was well timed for this conversation. It’s in three parts: Part 1 (large and mid-sized theatres) — Part 2 (small/fringe scene & overall numbers) — Part 3 (New England theatre).

• This one preceded The Summit by about 2 weeks, but is topically related: Ms Magazine’s “Binders Full of Women and People of Color Playwrights”

UPDATE 3/17/14: Here are some additional, pertinent articles. Thanks to everyone for the links.

• Chicago Tribune: “In Chicago, Plays by Women, Bucking the National Trend”

• Philadelphia’s genre-defying performance group Swim Pony also took on #TheSummit

• Some context for Pat Gabridge’s Boston count (linked above)  — here’s a count I did for Boston’s 2012-13 Season.

• Mike Lew was prompted by #TheSummit to address how “Arts Education Won’t Save Us From Boring Inaccessible Theatre.” And in case you missed it at the time, Mike also wrote wisely on gender parity in the theatre,  back in June, 2013.

• Rick Davis on HowlRound: “Plays by Women: One Theater’s Story”

• Playwright Gwydion Suilebhan asks what we might mean when we say “gender parity.” And, here’s his count of DC theatre seasons regarding racial and gender diversity.

• Patrick Gabridge took on the topic of “Creating a Diverse World: Choices, Opportunity, and Trade-Offs for Playwrights and Theaters”

• Joel Brown in The Boston Globe framed the issues of The Summit in terms of Boston theatre: “Spotlight Shines of Area Theater’s Diversity Gap”

• BOSTON THEATRE TOWN HALL MEETING ON DEFINING GENDER PARITY: SATURDAY APRIL 27, 11A, AT BOSTON PLAYWRIGHTS’ THEATRE. Rsvp at the link.

 

— Ilana M. Brownstein, Director of New Work at Company One & Founding Dramaturg at Playwrights’ Commons

[Cross-posted here and here.]

Race & Gender in the New Play Sector: XX PlayLab

21 Mar

Hello PwritesCom friends!

There are some exciting events coming up this weekend for those who care about playwrights and new plays.  See the announcement below. All roundtables are free and open to the public (no reservations or tickets required), and the panelists are really phenomenal. I’m so proud to be producing and moderating these conversations.

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Join Company One, the Boston Center for the Arts, and some of the smartest artists around talking about gender and race in the new play sector. The XX PlayLab Festival features public readings of new plays by Kirsten Greenidge, Natalia Naman, and Lydia R. Diamond, as well as two roundtable conversations with industry leaders. Roundtables are free and open to the public, and will be livestreamed on NewPlayTV Saturday, March 23, 10am (ET), and Sunday, March 24, 12pm (ET). Join us in person at the Calderwood Pavilion in Boston’s South End, or online (#newplay #xxc1). Details are below:

 

Saturday, March 23, 10am (ET)
THE XX PLAYWRIGHT IN BOSTON
Featuring:
• Lydia R. Diamond, playwright
• Kirsten Greenidge, playwright
• Natalia Naman, playwright
• Shawn LaCount, director
• Megan Sandberg-Zakian, director
• Charles Haugland, dramaturg
• Moderated by dramaturgs Ilana M. Brownstein & Tyler Monroe

 

Sunday, March 24, 12pm (ET)
WHERE WE STAND: RACE & GENDER IN THE NEW PLAY SECTOR
Featuring:
• Jacqueline Lawton, playwright
• Hana Sharif, playwright/producer
• Lenelle Moïse, playwright/performer
• Anne García-Romero, playwright
• Moderated by dramaturg Ilana M. Brownstein

 

Can’t make it in person? WATCH THE LIVESTREAM.

 

XX PlayLab, a program jointly presented by the BCA and Company One, a BCA Resident Theatre Company, supports, develops and propels the work of female playwrights. This season, the BCA and Company One invited three dynamic women at various stages of their careers for a year-long program composed of in-house and public readings, dramaturgical support and artist mentorship, culminating in a weekend long festival in March.

 

 

For a full schedule of Festival events, CLICK HERE.
For more information about Festival panelists, CLICK HERE.
For more information about, and interviews with Festival artists, CLICK HERE.
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Update: Where Boston Stands for 2012-13

22 Oct

{Welcome, HowlRound readers!}

In late April, I posted a report card on the Boston theatre scene and the available numbers on racial and gender diversity for the 2012-13 season. The problem with those numbers were that some theatres I wished to include in the counts had not yet announced their seasons.

In concert with Boston week on HowlRound.com, I wanted to revisit my accounting, and see if things have changed much in the last few months.

Please see the original post HERE, which lists the companies I counted, by name, and details my methodology I used then (and now).

Here’s what’s changed. Unlike in April, there are now other categories “of color” to count. Again, I’d like to reiterate how non-scientific this is. As I said in April:

“And a final caveat about the designation “of color“: [...] It’s tricky, since I’m operating largely from names, bios, and photos for the artists I don’t know personally or professionally. This method obviously has its faults.”

That said, we now have several plays in Boston this year by Asian American writers, when we had none as of a few months ago. I’d call that an improvement, especially in light of the national attention drawn to underrepresentation of Asian American voices by AAPAC-NYC, the Asian American Performers Action Coalition.

I’ve been able to add the seasons of Company One and Boston Playwrights’ Theatre to the mix, as I’d wished to do in April, as well as additional information on shows from the ART, Lyric, Trinity Rep, Merrimack, Central Square, and Fresh Ink.

Here are my revised numbers for the 2012-13 Boston theatre season.

Total number of plays being produced: 64 → 74

Total number of world premieres: 10 → 13

Total number of plays by local playwrights: 9 → 13

Total number of male playwrights/lyricists/composers: 61 → 67

Total number of female playwrights/lyricists/composers: 15 → 19

Total number of playwrights/lyricists/composers of color: 6  → 12

Total number of male directors: 29 → 40

Total number of female directors: 15 → 29

Total number of directors of color: 2 → 5

Welcome HowlRound Visitors

21 Oct

Hello there!

How’s it going? I bet you’re visiting from HowlRound.com. Thanks for your interest, and I invite you to come back later tonight for the release of the most updated Boston Theatre Season numbers on gender and racial diversity.

All the best,

Ilana Brownstein

Founding Dramaturg, Playwrights’ Commons

Thanks, O’Neill

21 Oct

Huge thanks to Anne Morgan of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, who joined us yesterday afternoon for our most recent iteration of Playwright Night Out.

Anne answered questions about the submission process for the National Playwrights Conference, and provided advice writers about how to make the most out of submission of this type, at the O’Neill and elsewhere.

Anne and her colleagues would like to remind you that submission for this coming summer close on Oct 26th.

See HERE for more details. You can also contact the literary office — litoffice(at)theoneill.org — or 860.443.5378 ext 227 with further questions.

Retreat Advice

25 Jul

We asked last year’s Retreat participants to share their advice for new retreatants. Here’s the first installment!

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“Bring: Bathing suit and towel. Shoes for walking, and shoes that can go in the water. Art supplies that you love. music device and headphones. Flash drive to get other people’s pictures at the end.
Maybe: computer. you can live without it unless you’re a playwright who wants to spend time writing. games. more like frisbee than monopoly though.
Leave home: bedding, pretty clothes (you’re more likely to be dirty than need to be pretty). I would also say leave home your cell phone if I thought that was realistic…. Look up maps of the region before you get there. Talk to the locals. Ask what their favorite hikes are. Embrace that you are in a region that has it’s own special history and culture.”

✩✩✩

“Get ready to collaborate.  •  2 heads are better than one, 4 heads are better than two, etc, etc.  •  Show where you are shy and dive in!  •  Bring a bathing suit.  •  There are sea monsters in Little Pea Porridge Pond.  •  Sometimes it’s best to stop talking and DO something!  •  The key is saying “yes and…”  •  Ilana’s cooking is amazing.”

Revisiting Hammer Time

25 Jul

In preparation for next week’s Retreat, here’s a wonderful piece from last year. We first posted this on Aug 10, 2011.

♺ ♺ ♺ ♺ ♺

In 7 hours over the last two days, a group of four collaborators conceived of a full length play for young audiences, with heavy metal (acoustic guitar) music. It stars a troubadour fox and a katana-wielding hero whose sword is named Hammer.

Here’s the first song, called “Nails.”

Hammer will flatten out all of your problems if all of your problems are nails!

All rights reserved, created by Meron Langsner, Colleen Hughes, Corianna Moffatt, and Phil Berman, with sponsorship by Playwrights’ Commons. Performance by Phil Berman & Corianna Moffatt.

Meet the Retreatant: Phil Berman

20 Jul

Phil Berman is thrilled to return to the Freedom Art Retreat after interning with the 10 incredible retreatants from last year.

Phil makes theater in the Boston area: acting with Moonbox Productions and Puppet Showplace Theatre; dramaturging shows and managing the literary department for Company One; and creating puppets, plays, and music for Free Hands, a company founded with retreatants from last year.

His plays include “The Last Confession of the Virgin Maria,” directed by Corianna Moffatt at Boston University, and “The Three Blessed Brothers,” produced by Free Hands last June, designed by Allie Herryman.

Meet the Retreatant: Lenelle Moïse

20 Jul

Lenelle Moïse creates jazz-infused, rhythmic performance texts about Haitian-American identity and the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality, memory and magic. Her two-act comedy, Merit, won the 2012 Ruby Prize for women of color playwrights. She also wrote, composed and co-starred in the critically-acclaimed drama, Expatriate, which launched Off-Broadway at the Culture Project. Moïse was the fifth Poet Laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts, the 2012 Visiting Performing Artist in African & African Diaspora Studies at UT Austin, the 2011 Artist in Residence in Performance Studies at Northwestern University and a 2010 Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival Fellow. She holds an MFA in Playwriting from Smith College (2004). Her work has been published in several anthologies including Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution.

Check out Lenelle’s website, which is packed with awesome content., and watch some of her work, HERE.

Meet the Retreatant: Barbara Whitney

11 Jul

For someone who regularly finds her wallet in the freezer, bakes challah at 3 am, sleep crafts, and occasionally eats a sandwich in the shower, you know, just for fun, Barbara Whitney is a model of sanity. A model of sanity who is really struggling with writing this bio. She’s ‘turged, directed, devised, performed, puppeteered, production managed, and taught at a variety of places around the world – from Carnegie Hall to Chicago’s South Side St. Patrick’s Day Parade to under a tree in Bangkok. She spent years touring internationally and causing a theatrical ruckus domestically and is proud to have made a living as a freelance artist for 13 years. For the past 4 years she’s been a high school theater teacher where she encourages students to think of themselves as vast beings who exercise curiosity in the out-of-the-ordinary. And who embrace looking like an idiot, and say please and thank you. She is much less of a hippy than this bio makes her sound and, for the skeptics, has a legitimate theatrical resume with credentials and stuff that she’s happy to share if they’re happy to turn their clothes inside out to confuse the fairies. Mainstream is often interesting and worthwhile but the edges are where things happen.

 

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