We’re Not Playing: a new play by Raegan Payne

Not PlayingSo, some very cool things are happening with this initiative:  More playwrights are sending me work to share, and several theatre artists/theatre companies are organizing readings in theatrical protest.  We are SO excited to be facilitating this opportunity for artists to make their objections to Trump’s impending inauguration known!   We may not be able to stop the train from going off the rails, but we can join forces, speak up, and hopefully take positive action towards bolstering the institutions we believe will be very busy fighting reckless policy changes under the incoming president: The ACLU, NRDC, and Planned Parenthood (these are just a few of the terrific organizations that will be working hard to protect our civil liberties, planet, and reproductive health).

With that, I’d like to introduce you all to our first non-ONSTAGE playwright, Raegan Payne – although after reading her play, Appropriate, I seriously hope she participates in this year’s ONSTAGE Fest, because I absolutely love her writing!

Appropriate speaks to the ludicrous policing of young women’s bodies by school administrations who seem to believe it’s okay to perpetuate the myth that it’s a girl’s/woman’s fault if a boy/man thinks naughty thoughts/assaults her.  The school may think it’s shaming young girls for “inappropriate” dress in order to keep her safe, but really they’re just enforcing dangerous messaging to both girls and boys that women are objects and men guileless users of said feminine objects.  It makes my blood boil, and apparently it makes Raegan’s blood boil too.  Check out her play below, and then find out how you can get involved in the We’re Not Playing Initiative!

A few words about Appropriate from playwright Raegan Payne:

lhj-headshotI wrote Appropriate after reading about the Lord Grey School dress code incident in England where 70 girls were sent home for inappropriate attire in one day.  No boys were sent home. Dress codes in schools often promote sexism by reinforcing the idea that women are responsible for a man’s behavior and that a woman’s body is shameful.  The dress codes are unduly harsh and restrictive of girls, which impedes their ability to learn. I had read one too many disturbing and harmful dress code cases, so I put pen to paper.

More about Raegan:

Raegan is an award-winning, published playwright, who is happy to say her work is regularly produced around the US. This year, the Theatre Republic in Lagos, Nigeria will perform a series of her plays entitled “A Season of Payne.” Her scripts are sold in the US and UK.

Read more plays in the We’re Not Playing Initiative HERE.

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We’re Not Playing: a new play by Amber Bosworth

Not PlayingAmber is a relatively new playwright, but only because she didn’t know there was a wordsmith within her actor self just dying to escape!  I am SO happy that she’s decided to let her words out – first with our 2016 ONSTAGE Fest, and now with a short play for We’re Not Playing.  When she contacted me with the play, she included the note:

“When I first heard about (We’re Not Playing), I wanted to write this piece but I got sidetracked.  After the results of the election, I was motivated to finally write the piece I wanted.  I will not be silent anymore.”

I almost stood up and cheered! 

Then I read Amber’s beautifully conceived (and written) play and wept.  Maybe it’s because I am a new mother, but the play – which addresses the inherent power of children to see the good in everything – left me gasping for air.  I know I won’t be the only one.  This election has done a lot of damage to how many of us see the world.  As we head into the Thanksgiving weekend, I find myself thankful that there are still so many people working for good, and for playwrights like Amber who are creating art which aims to help us see humanity clearer in the hopes that we may be better humans ourselves.

Amber Bosworth on her play, UNDER THE INFLUENCE

Amber BosworthNo one is born to hate.  We all come into this world as a blank canvas.  Family, friends, media and experiences shape the way we see the world.  This piece speaks to the complete lack of letting anyone see what they want to see.  Everyone is so quick to offer their own opinion without acknowledging that someone else is allowed to have their own.  The little girl, Emily, is all of us.  We were all innocent at one time and were influenced by the people and media in our lives to see something different than what we want.  I think we have all been influenced in some way no matter how small.  My hope is that we can recognize when this is happening and still keep our own vision.

More about Amber:

Amber Bosworth has been committed to theater since she was a kid. She served five years in the US Navy as an Air Traffic Controller to help pay for college. She now works for Lockheed Martin Flight Service and spends most of her free time writing and acting on any stage that will have her. She has been involved with Seatbelts Required, Harvey, Dead Mans Cell Phone, and Educating Rita.  Her first love has always been writing.  After twenty years of following the sensible path, Amber has finally started to follow her dream as a writer.  She is getting her Masters in Creative Writing from Full Sail University.  Amber is excited and humbled to be apart of Little Black Dress INK.

You can read our 2016 ONSTAGE interview with Amber HERE.

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We’re Not Playing: a play by Cecilia Copeland

Not PlayingCecilia Copeland and I have never met, but I’ve been Facebook admiring her for years.  The woman is a force!  Not only is she a powerful writer, but she’s also an incredible theatre maker – this woman gets shit done!  So when I reached out to her to see if she’d be interested in participating in We’re Not Playing, I was absolutely thrilled that she said “Yes.” 

The play she sent, YES THIS SHIT AGAIN, is (unfortunately) incredibly relevant – I felt like letting out a mighty yawp at the end of the piece (and I imagine in performance, I’d be unable to contain myself and would be cheering on the piece like a maniac).  I hope the real world awesome female politicians currently working in DC to protect our reproductive rights know that we are collectively applauding their every effort to stem the tide of misogyny advancing on capitol hill.

A few words from Cecilia about YES THIS SHIT AGAIN.

cecilia-copeland-headshot-by-jody-christophersonMy frustration with having to deal with issues that have been solved in the past, voted on by the Supreme Court, and are now in jeopardy led me to writing “Yes This Shit Again.” The idea for the piece, in the moment I had it, was immediately followed by a need to apologize for writing about abortion rights. I’m tired of having to apologize for writing about women’s issues, as if women’s issues aren’t universal. We are over fifty percent of the population and any governmental infringement upon being in full autonomous command of our own bodies using all of the medicine and science available to our society is an epic humanitarian travesty. It is a cruel subjugation of our rights. The piece I wrote came from a place of shock and horror that our rights are being threatened yet again when at this point in our social evolution towards equality a woman’s right to choose should be enshrined in stone.

More about Cecilia:

Cecilia Copeland is a member of NYWIFT New York Women in Film and TV, the League of Professional Theatre Women, an inductee into the Indie Theater Hall of Fame, recipient of the Lennis J. Holm Scholarship at the Writers Workshop and a Special Effects Grant from Metro Screen Australia, winner Best New TV Pilot for WOMG at Boom! Productions. She is a Kilroy’s List Nominee and Honorable mention for her plays, Light of Night and “R Culture.” Copeland is the Founding Artistic Director of New York Madness, producing over two hundred short plays in over thirty “madness” festivals all over New York from 2010-2016.

Her plays have been presented in New York at Daryl Roth’s DR2, the Cherry Lane Theatre, Culture Project, Ensemble Studios Theatre, The Lower East Side Festival of the Arts, and HERE Arts Center among others.

Regionally her works have been presented at The William Inge Center, Carnegie Mellon University, UT Dallas, Bishop Arts Theatre Center, Cara Mia Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company Susanne Robert’s Theatre, University of Iowa and Ohio University.

Internationally her works have been presented at Theatre Royal Stratford East London, Finborough Theatre London, The Anarchist Theatre Festival Montreal, Gun Control Plays Project in Sydney Australia, and featured in the Verlag Textbook on American Drama in Germany. She has been published by the Playwrights Center for Women Writers, NoPassport Press and Amazon.

 

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We’re not playing, and we want you to join us!

Last week a lot of us watched in horror as Donald Trump, a misogynistic, xenophobic, and wildly ignorant human (we think…) man, was elected to be President of these United States.

I’ve been spending a lot of time since then working through all my feelings on the subject, and I’ve managed to boil all my rage, disappointment, and shock into two major thinking points:  “We have to do better!” and “Fuck that guy!”

(Obviously the former is a more actionable frame of mind to be in, but I’d be lying if I said the latter thought didn’t help fuel my desire to follow through on the first)

So I’ve been doing a lot of writing… and not in the “Wow, I’m making some great art from this!” kind of writing (yet).  More like, “Umm, I think I’m writing a mission statement” kind of writing, and it’s based on the following:

We need to heal our divided nation and We need to make our objections to Trump’s dangerous policies heard.

I’m working on strategies for the first, but Little Black Dress INK already had a jump start on the second – and we’d love for you to you to join us!

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Little Black Dress INK invites you to take action by participating in the 
We’re Not Playing initiative.  This initiative began as a way for us to support female voices who were speaking out on important issues through their work as playwrights – and now it’s time for these voices be heard!

Theatres and theatre practitioners across the nation are invited to hold readings of these plays, royalty free, Friday, January 20, 2017 – Inauguration Day.  The only caveat is that we ask any/all monies raised be donated to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and/or NRDC – organizations we believe will be integral to fighting the dangerous policies which the incoming administration intends to implement.

Little Black Dress INK will continue to post socially-conscious/politically-inspired plays between now and January for interested theaters to select from – or you can challenge your own circles of fabulous playwrights to write plays that inspire action.  Let’s just do something to help process the rising tides of panic gripping the nation.

Let us make our objections loud and clear, and let us put our humanity center stage on January 20th, 2017.

We can be better.  Let’s be better.  Let’s invite our audiences to be better with us.

Want to get involved?  Sign our pledge HERE  Then start reading and selecting plays from those we’ve published, or invite other awesome female playwrights in your area to contribute work!

And if you’re a female playwright who wants to contribute short plays or monologues to the initiative, please send them, along with a photo and brief paragraph explaining what inspired you to write the piece to Submissions@LittleBlackDressINK.org – make sure your subject line reads: WE’RE NOT PLAYING SUBMISSION.

#WereNotPlaying #WritingForChange #TheaterCanHeal

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And the 2017 Festival theme is…

HOLY MOLEY!  Is it that time again already?  It feels like we just wrapped up our 2016 ONSTAGE festival… oh, wait… we did!

ohboyAnd it was such a huge success!  We seriously cannot thank our 2016 supporters, playwrights, partner producers, and artists enough.  This year was one for the record books and we are truly grateful to everyone who made it possible.

SO, what do you need to know about the 2017 Female Playwrights ONSTAGE Fest?  Well, check out our handy-dandy submission call below.  Then get writing!  We can’t wait to see your work in this year’s fest…

FP ONSTAGE submission call 2017

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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!

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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…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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