I started the Female Playwrights ONSTAGE Festival nine years ago with the kind of innocent gumption that gets all sorts of characters into trouble. I had no idea the blood, sweat, and tears I would pour into it. I also had no idea how many friendships I would make, how many opportunities I would create, or how rewarding the whole crazy and exhausting journey would be.
I’ve started several Press Releases to share my decision to put ONSTAGE on hiatus for the coming year, but they all felt too impersonal. Little Black Dress INK has always been a one-woman-doing-her-best-impression-of-being-many-women-operation… and as such, it’s not just a professional project for me—rather, it’s a huge part of my personal life as well. Which is why I don’t want to drown this decision in “Press” speak. I just want to speak to you from my heart.
The thrill of reading and producing so many new and exciting plays, and of working with so many brilliant, passionate, and creative playwrights, directors, producers, and actors has been such an honor for me. You amazing artists are honestly the reason I have devoted so much of my time every year to the festival! But time is a commodity I have less and less of these days.
As many of you know, I spent the last ten years hustling my buns off to try and forge a life in this business I love so much. I graduated in 2008 with my MFA in playwriting, and spent the last decade juggling adjunct jobs, freelancing gigs, playwriting opps, and credit cards, trying to make myself as appealing as possible to all manner of gatekeepers (Literary Managers, Producers, Publishers, Academic Decision Makers… you know the drill!). Little Black Dress INK was a way for me to be in control of one aspect of my creative life—and it was often a sanity-saver! But guess what? All that hustling paid off and now I don’t have the bandwidth to keep hustling at the same pace I was before.
I am now teaching full time at an amazing university where I find myself honor bound to devote as much time as possible to my students and department, while also juggling my artivism with Protest Plays Project, my own writing, and a growing family (I just had a second baby, y’all – and the struggle to manage it all with integrity is REAL!)
Which is why I’ve made the difficult decision to put the ONSTAGE Festival on hiatus this year while I re-envision what it is I want to do next.
You see, the ONSTAGE Festival was designed to create more production opportunities for female playwrights. I chose to work with 10-minute plays because it was what I had the resources to produce, and doing only one festival a year still meant I could create opportunities for multiple playwrights. I created the peer-review process to offer each playwright a voice in the selection process. And both of these things have worked been incredibly successful! But now it’s time to move forward.
I love ten-minute play festivals. I love short pieces that punch us in the gut, make us laugh till tears roll down our cheeks… but I also don’t think my little festival is launching anyone’s name into the stratosphere. One think I’ve always hoped we could do, but which proved challenging, was to offer opportunities for playwrights to really hone their work and see it move forward after our festival. And several have—playwrights have seen their work produced by other theatres, published, and even adapted into short films!
But I find myself at this point in my life wondering what ONSTAGE 2.0 would look like… An ONSTAGE more invested in a smaller group of playwrights who, like myself, are invested in their peer’s success. Essentially, I want to take the peer-networking up a notch and I want to dive into the world of full-length plays in a way that creates more worthwhile and longer-lasting effects for every female playwright involved.
And that, in an admittedly long nutshell, is why I’m putting the whole thing on hiatus this year. I will be taking some much needed time to focus on my family and my career, while I indulge in some serious ONSTAGE crock-potting.
I want to thank everyone so much for their involvement and support of everything we’ve done thus far, and I want to invite you to join me again in 2020!
And please stay in touch (we’re on Facebook and Twitter)! I continue to cheer on and support female playwrights who ROCK—and I know I’ll be seeing you all again soon.