We’re Not Playing: a new play by Rhea MacCallum

Not PlayingRhea’s play, ASKING FOR IT, was an instant hit in this year’s peer review process.  There are usually a few obvious standouts during the eval process – some plays just hit all the right notes!  Which is why I knew right away, when I was aggregating this year’s scores, that Rhea had sent us something special.  Her play about rape culture in America is bitingly on point, even though it manages to keep us laughing throughout. So it was no surprise to me that when Rhea sat down to address our recent political climate, what she came up with was some genuinely powerful (and hilarious) satire!

Rhea on her play, Law and Order:  Trump’s Immigration Team (TIT) or Keepers of Klassic Kulture (KKK) and the Smarter Smart Gun.

 There’s been the conspiracy theories… who is ‘Becky with the good hair’, could Ted Cruz really be the Zodiac Killer, and what exactly is in those missing emails?

The interruptions to daily life… Windows 10 ‘Nagrade’, exploding phones, intersecting with Pokemon Go addicts.

The unpredictable… Brexit, lying Olympians, the presidential candidacy of a reality TV star.

But also the tragic… Orlando, Syria, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and… too, too many more.

Processing all of the super crazy lemons into limoncello caused me to embrace the humor.  How can I highlight the absurdity of 2016 and purge myself of the apocalyptic nightmares it has left behind?  Thus was sprung Law and Order:  Trump’s Immigration Team (TIT) or Keepers of Klassic Kulture (KKK) and the Smarter Smart Gun.

Check out more plays from our We’re Not Playing Initiative HERE.






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We’re Not Playing: a play by Tiffany Antone

Not PlayingWell, what can I say?  Getting back on track after last week’s festival-craziness (coupled with the sheer insanity of “OMG, I’m travelling with an infant, for the first time, on my own!” whirlwind) has taken longer than I thought.  I wrote a blog post a few months ago about how the baby and my penchant for over-committing myself to things have been in opposition lately, so I won’t belabor the point again here – but let me just say that keeping all of the LBDI balls rolling has been a challenge.  Never a question – just a challenge.  And doing so in a timely manner… well…

In any case, we have a FANTASTICALLY fun play by Rhea MacCallum to share with you – but because I didn’t ask her to write a little introduction for it until, oh, yesterday, it’s not ready to post.  Instead (and because I don’t want to skip a week!) I’m sharing a play I wrote a few years ago about a woman running for president.  I have a feeling the piece won’t be as relevant in a few months, because (if the polls are right) we’ll have our first ever woman president (trememdously exciting!) and my little play will be old-hat (t0 a degree) – but the double standard witnessed in this election has been brutal and so I’m sharing this piece in tribute to that.  (If you don’t believe me, just read this article about sexism in high-school debates, or this article about why Hillary is held to such different standards than Trump.)

And yes, I’ve been tooling around on a piece actually inspired by this insane election cycle, but the baby (yes, that adorable little time-taker) and my students and the ONSTAGE fest have made finishing it a challenge.  I do hope to share it before our We’re Not Playing Initiative closes, but in the meantime, here’s Sour Fruit.


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ONSTAGE 2016 in Prescott – We Did It!


Mary Timpany and Frank Malle in CJ Ehrlich’s THE LILAC TICKET at the Prescott Center for the Arts October 6-8, 2016

Wow… WOW!  We did it – our 2016 Female Playwrights ONSTAGE Festival rocked the stage at the Prescott Center for the Arts, thanks to a team of incredibly talented, fun, and passionate artists.

And it was awesome!

This year’s line-up was seriously one for the record books: 12 short pieces that travelled to the moon and back, made us fall in love with the sassiest and sweetest octogenarian couple ever, let us know what our boobs were really thinking, and a whole lot more.  And we did it all in under 2 hours – perfection!

Of course, getting there wasn’t a piece of cake… I was wrangling the creative circus in Arizona from Arkansas (even directing a few pieces via FaceTime and Google Hangouts) with a baby on my hip.  Which is why I owe a HUGE thank you to our Prescott team of directors, actors, and tech rock stars!  (Check out this year’s program at the end of this post)

And although we didn’t get but a few actual stage pictures, I did snap some pics of the casts backstage.  Here’s a peek at some of our awesome actors…


The cast of Rhea MacCallum’s ASKING FOR IT – Mikki Russ and Michael Holevar


Cast members Janelle Devlin, Don Langford, and Gina Steverson from Amy Drake’s MODEL BEHAVIOR


Frank Malle and Mary Timpany – cast of CJ Ehrlich’s THE LILAC TICKET


Alexes Niekamp, Kathey Derry, Jon Bryan, Mat Montgomery, Daria Chlebecek, Logan Olson, and Michael James – cast of Donna Hoke’s JACK PORK


Jon and Angi Bryan, cast of Rachel Hall’s THE MOON.


Amber Bosworth and John Spence – cast of Anne Flannagan’s THROWN FOR A CURVE


Annabelle Veatch, Michelle Grubert, and Gina Stevenson – cast of Sharon Goldner’s BAZOOKAS


Sean Jeralds and Bruce Thomson – cast of Nancy Cooper Frank’s IN THE LOOP


Robyn Allen, Kevin Nissen, Amber Bosworth (playwright), Angie Bryan, and Sean Jeralds – cast of Amber Bosworth’s HERE THERE BE CURVES


Rob White and Allie Kate Elliot – cast of Tiffany Antone’s THE EGG


Tyler Bond, Linus Porter, Don Langford, Marnie Uhl, and Katie Van Boening – the behind the scenes genies who made this year’s Prescott production possible!

Huge thanks to all of our artists and to each playwright who participated in this year’s fest!

And if you’re in NYC, don’t miss the final reading of the 2016 ONSTAGE plays: Curves Ahead, with Stairwell Theatre on October 26th!

curves-ahead-stairwell-theatreNow, time for a bit of rest before we gear up for 2017…


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We’re Not Playing: A play by Anne Hamilton

Not PlayingI first met Anne Hamilton at the 2014 Great Plains Theatre Conference which she was participating in as a dramaturg (she’s one of those many-hats-wearing artists we all know and love so well), but I was already familiar with her work as a playwright because she was one of our ONSTAGE Festival playwrights that year – her monologue, OFEM, is hilarious and I am definitely a fan.  So when she sent me her monologue, MARLY FLORINDA DESCENDS INTO HELL ONE STEP AT A TIME, I was really excited to share it.  Interestingly, the play puts a Trumpian-like character onstage, only in female form… which brings up some interesting questions about the ironies and contradictions that some candidate’s platforms contain, and how a woman airing her “crazy” in public might be perceived versus a certain man we’ve seen do the same thing.

Anne on Marly Florinda Descends Into Hell One Step at a Time:

Anne Hamilton - OFEMI have been watching the Presidential election news coverage for many months now. Carly Fiorina, of course, was the only woman to run for office in the Republican Party.

In listening to their views on many basic issues that affect most Americans, I was shocked and disheartened by their inability to connect real life events with their ideologies. For instance, my heart breaks every time there is a shooting in a school. And we know that many Americans have been struggling to obtain – and retain – basic health insurance coverage, as well as food, clothing and shelter. The basics. And yet the policies that are practically screamed at us in these speeches simply don’t put two and two together. There seems to be no logic, only what occurred to me as hypocrisy.

I realized that in this modern day, a baby, a life, is seen as a commodity. A baby is a talking point. A baby – a life – is a convenience to theorize about. And actual conditions that a human needs to be given to remain alive, much less thrive, are ignored or stripped away, as soon as it is delivered into the world. This monologue spewed out of me in anger. It is my attempt to highlight a hypocritical force that fights to make sure that women don’t have access to birth control or family planning, yet systematically and self-righteously removes their very basic human needs – safety, food, and health care. Women are simply treated as factory workers, and their product is babies. I hope to portray an utter lack of compassion and generosity that I see in some candidates who compete to become our nation’s leaders.

Anne Hamilton. October 3, 2016

Check out more plays from our We’re Not Playing Initiative HERE.



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We’re Not Playing… this week

We have been pleasantly overwhelmed with the enthusiasm for our latest new play project!

Not PlayingAnd we have more new plays coming your way, starting next week!  BUT, since this is our final production week for the 2016 Female Playwrights ONSTAGE Festival: Curves Ahead in Prescott, Arizona, we thought we’d pause just long enough to share some thoughts on how incredible this year’s line-up is (and how wonderful the artists and playwrights and audiences have been!)

Every year I wait in near-breathless anticipation to see what kind of wacky, wonderful, moving, and straight-up hilarious plays we’re going to get… it’s kind of like Christmas, only the presents are from daring writers and the joy of opening them is shared with all of the playwrights who participate in our peer review process.

This year’s line-up features a lot of comedies… We have a few really poignant pieces in the line up as well – enough to make us think, maybe get a little indignant, a little misty-eyed – but there are hands down more comedies than dramas.  Last year, we were heavy on the latter.  I don’t know if it’s this year’s theme, the socio-political realities we’re dealing with, or just a general mood that’s somehow set in, but I think we need funny this year.  I think there is a lot going on in the world to make our hearts weary.  As the We’re Not Playing initiative proves, there’s plenty of need for catharsis too, but sometimes the need to go to the theatre and just laugh with friends and strangers is strong.  And sometimes doing so can be reaffirming in a way that allows us all to walk out of the theatre a little lighter.

I hope that our Prescott audiences enjoy this year’s festival.  It features plays by some truly talented and passionate women, and our production features some of Prescott’s finest directors and actors!  The fact that these plays have already been produced in Louisiana with Acadiana Repertory Theatre makes it even more exciting.  And to know that they’re going to be wrapping up their whirlwind national-tour with a reading in NYC makes me incredibly proud!  Of course, I couldn’t do any of this without the amazing help of our Partner Producers: Steven Landry and Etienna Wright with ART in Lafayette, LA; Darcy Martin Rose with Acting Out NY in Ithaca, NY; Christine Breihan and Samuel French Bookshop in Los Angeles, CA; Kate Hawkes with Red Earth Theatre in Sedona, AZ; Charissa Menefee with Iowa State University in Ames, IA; Amber Hanel with Sculpted Entertainment in Auburn, AL; Katherine James, who put together a seven theatre collective to produce a reading in Los Angeles, CA; and Sam Gibbs with Stairwell Theatre in New York City, NY.  These people and all of the incredible actors and directors they brought together in order to breathe life into our festival are the reason the ONSTAGE Fest is such a success!

And now we’re about to rock these shows in Prescott – and I couldn’t be more proud!  I hope that if you’re in the Prescott area, you will join us this week (Oct. 6-8 at the Prescott Center for the Arts)  And if you’re in attendance on opening night, I especially hope you’ll join us after the show at El Gato Azul for some delicious treats and mingling with our talented artists! PrintThanks for all of your support for Little Black Dress INK!  We love what we do, and we love sharing it with you!  Come back next Monday for a play by Anne Hamilton – the next piece in our We’re Not Playing Initiative.



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Guest Post By Jen Huszcza: More Adventurous

Jen2I apologize for stealing the title of Rilo Kiley’s 2004 album for this blog, but I couldn’t think of a better title.

Back in August, Tiffany emailed me to ask if I would write a blog post for the upcoming Prescott production. She suggested that I talk about some of my adventures. I like to walk long distances and sail boats down to Mexico (I live in Southern California, so it’s not that far). Okay, yes, some folks might call that adventurous, but to me, it’s what I do. At the same time, I look at Tiffany who has just had a baby, and I think, whoah, that’s adventurous.

So what does this have to do with women’s playwriting (which is why we’re here)???

If in life, there is more than one way to be adventurous, then the same holds true for play scribbling. When I sit down to write a play, I strive to push the form, to be innovative, and to redefine what I’m doing. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I end up with a pile of muck. Adventure isn’t perfect all the time.


A lot of the time, adventure is a lot of fun. It’s worth it to be more adventurous in everything I do.

So if I can say anything to you, gentle women’s playwriting blog reader, it would be: be adventurous, be bold, and don’t forget to just be. You never know what you’re gonna end up with.

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We’re Not Playing: a play by Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich

When Barbara sent me her short play, Sacred Space, I had to read it twice because the first time my eyes were too blurry to make out every word.  There is power in tradition.  There is power in grief.  There is power in words.  Barbara’s piece tackles something a lot of us wrestle with when tragedy strikes outside our own circles, yet leaves us with grief just the same – and she does it with grace.  This is a beautiful play, inspired by an ugly event, and I encourage you share in its strength.

Barbara on Sacred Space:

barbara-blumenthal-ehrlichWhen my father died last May, I was introduced to the world of Jewish rituals for the dead. First, as the soul can’t be alone until burial, someone called a “Shomere” sat with my dad 24/7, reciting psalms. Second, an ancient cleansing ritual, known as “Tahara” was performed. In this sacred prayerful ceremony, his body was washed and dressed in simple white garments, emphasizing the spiritual and sublime over the physical and material.

The morning of my dad’s funeral, I braced for full-on dread. Instead I was comforted by the care he received. At the cemetery, I made eye contact with the Shomere. With her long skirt and cloth bag of prayer books, she looked like she’d just stepped out of Fiddler on the Roof. She nodded but didn’t speak. So much dignity there. I haven’t been able to get her image out of my head.

After Orlando, there was another image I couldn’t get out of my head, something I’d seen on the news — a text thread between a victim and his mother, Eddie and Mina Justice. “In the club,” he wrote. “They’re shooting.” “I’m gonna die.” Her belated response came too late. As a mother myself, the pain of that missed connection was unbearable. I wanted Mina Justice to know the peace I knew, and Eddie Justice to have the dignity in death that my dad had. Of course neither of these things could ever be.

From there I conceived SACRED SPACE, a surreal piece in which the verbatim text conversation between Eddie and Mina Justice intrudes on the peace and quiet of the Tahara. Ultimately I hope the play addresses the escalating horrors of gun violence and the need to honor the sanctity of all lives.

More about Barbara:

Full lengths have been produced at Northern Light, Overtime, Trustus, Trinity Rep, the New York International Fringe Festival, the off-Broadway Summer Play Festival, and more. Her plays have been developed in NYC at Playwrights Horizons, Second Stage, ARACAworks, Stella Adler, and Rattlestick, and regionally at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Geva, Victory Gardens, Elephant Theatre, among others. She won the 2016 Beverly Hills Theatre Guild Julie Harris Award, the Capital Stage Playwrights Revolution, Six Women Playwrights Festival, and was a runner up in contests that include the Sundance Playwriting Lab, O’Neill Playwrights Conference, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, the Heideman Award and Princess Grace Fellowship. Her play STILL LIFE was named to the Kilroy List and was nominated for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award. Published by Smith & Kraus, Applause, and Indie Theatre Now. barbarablumenthalehrlich.com





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Curves Ahead is heading to Prescott Center for the Arts!

curves-ahead_pca_webLittle Black Dress INK and the Prescott Center for the Arts are partnering once again to produce the 5th annual Female Playwrights ONSTAGE Festival, Curves Ahead, Oct. 6-8 with shows at 7:30 p.m nightly and a 2 pm matinee on Oct. 8. Little Black Dress INK, a female playwright producing organization created by Prescott native Tiffany Antone, is bringing these 12 new short plays by female playwrights from across the country to the PCA for one weekend only!

The Curves Ahead festival is the fifth installment of the Female Playwrights ONSTAGE Project, with past festivals including last year’s Outside the Lines, along with Planting the Seed, From the Mouths of Babes, and Dirty Laundry.

The festival features plays written by playwrights from around the country, but Prescott remains an important part of LBDI’s ONSTAGE Project.

“Even though I’m working in Arkansas now, Prescott always will be ‘home,’” said Antone. “Not to mention the community of artists here is so supportive and welcoming.”

Prescott is well-represented in this year’s line-up, with plays by both Antone and local playwright Amber Bosworth in the festival. Not to mention, over 25 Quad-City area artists will work together to bring the plays to life through a partnership with the PCA. Directors include Don Langford, Frank Malle, Karen Murphy, Layla Tenney, Julie Chavez Harrington, and Mary Timpany.

In the past, each festival has included semi-finalist readings across the nation before the final staged performance in Prescott. This year’s festival featured readings of 41 plays in 6 different cities before the winning line up was selected.

“By partnering with artists in multiple US cities, we are able to bring these plays to more audiences than we would ever be able to do on our own,” notes Antone. “This year we were actually able to add an additional production with our partners, Acadiana Repertory Theatre, in Lafayette, LA.”

A reading of the 12 winning plays will also take place in New York City on October 26th at Standard ToyKraft in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Inspired by how few female playwrights actually get produced, Little Black Dress INK strives to create more production opportunities for female playwrights while also strengthening the female playwright network.

“Little Black Dress INK wants to bring new work by female playwrights to expanded audiences, and the ONSTAGE Project allows us to do just that,” said Antone.

And as for this year’s theme, Curves Ahead, Antone notes that, “being both a woman and a very visual playwright, I really liked the multiple meanings of ‘curves ahead.’ There were a few plays that took place in cars, which I expected, but there also were many writers that took the theme to really wild, surprising places.”

“The thing that’s most exciting about our ONSTAGE festivals is the broad range of genres on display,” said Antone. “Each play is under ten minutes, so you are able to experience an eclectic range of work. A lot of the plays this year are really funny. Even the plays exploring big issues are doing so with a lot of laughs, so there is poignancy there but we’re getting it with a healthy dose of the giggles. This year’s festival really has something for everyone!”

An added bonus to the fest is that there will be an opening night post-show reception at El Gato Azul, this year’s sponsor. Audiences will be able to mix and mingle with the cast and a few of this year’s playwrights while enjoying light snacks at the restaurant!

Be advised: Some plays do contain mature subject matter and language.

Get your tickets HERE

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We’re Not Playing: A play by Karli Shields

Not PlayingKarli Shields’ play The Fall of Autumn Summers was a finalist in this year’s ONSTAGE Fest: Curves Ahead.  I love this play.  It tickled me from the very start of this year’s competition – not only did it feel incredibly timely (we do have a reality star and fabulist not only running for President of the good ‘ol US-of-A, but actually standing a good chance of taking the vote…) but it was also just so much fun to read (and I imagine to act in!)  It was a very tough call not to include it in our final line-up, and I’ve kept it in mind ever since. 

Once I knew I was going to launch We’re Not Playing, I knew I had to get in touch with Karli to see if she’d be willing to let us share the play here – and talk about how much we love it.  I am so happy she said “Yes!”, and I’d like to share what Karli said about her inspiration for the play:

Karli SheildsThe character of Autumn came to me before any talk of giant walls or banning an entire religion, so it is funny how perfectly she fits into the 2016 election cycle–funny how easily a person with zero political experience can assume power on the basis of empty, futile, and unrealistic promises to constituents. Of course, the ramifications of Autumn’s presidency are not quite as extreme, but her promise to make Andrew Jackson High School great again unsurprisingly fell short.

Although 2016 has made it difficult to believe at times, I wholeheartedly believe that democracy in America works… when we make it work. To protest by not voting–or even, in this particular election cycle, by voting third party–is a vote for an America that no one can–or, quite frankly, should–deliver. America’s political system should be a world standard, not a joke, and it is up to us to make sure our democracy stays in tact and respected throughout the world.

More about this fabulous playwright:

Karli Shields graduated this spring with a BA in Creative Writing from Knox College in Galesburg, IL. She is currently interning for Disney in Anaheim, CA, and hopes to go on to write for television and be able to afford both LA rent and a vegetable once or twice a week.

Learn more about We’re Not Playing here.


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We’re Not Playing: a play by Jen Huszcza

Not PlayingOne of the things I love most about Jen Huszcza is her ability to write so succinctly, and so vibrantly.  Every year Jen sends me a trio of plays written on the festival’s theme, and every year they are uniquely powerful.  Jen’s worlds feel like they’re birthed at an intersection where Sam Shephard collided with a dystopian Sarah Ruhl.

When I floated our new initiative to Jen, she wrote back “I have an image. I’m working on the words to go with it.” I knew whatever she sent would be compelling, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Once again, she’s delivered an almost out-of-body story in such a way as to leave my heart pounding with the story’s implications.  I invite you to experience her words below.

Jen on On a Wire in the Air:

Jen2“I was originally going to call it Social Media, but that title sounded too obvious and pretentious. Then one night, I saw an interview with Glen Hansard on the television, and he talked about his mother singing Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire” to him as a boy. That’s one of my favorite songs too. Like a bird on a wire, like a drunk in an old midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free. I thought of Glen Hansard accepting the Oscar for Once and saying Make art, make art, make art. And I thought of a wire, not a wire in a wall, a wire in the air.”

Learn more about We’re Not Playing here.



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