Festival51: A Women’s Playwriting Festival

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Of all the plays produced in theaters across America, only 17% are by women playwrights. According to the Theater Communications Group, these numbers have not changed significantly over the past 20 years. Women make up 51% of the population, yet only 17% of theater productions are female-authored.

This is where the new Rhode Island-based theater group Festival51 comes in. Festival51 aims to put women playwrights center stage and (literally) change the face of American theater. The brainchild of actress and director Leann Heath and her co-producer actor/director Terry Shea, Festival51 will produce their first annual original play festival focused solely on developing the work of emerging female writers July through August at Mixed Magic Theatre’s new venue in the former Lorraine Mills in Pawtucket, RI.

This past spring, Festival51 put out the call for new and emerging New England writers to submit their work for consideration in the first annual festival. The five winning plays will be presented on rotating Friday and Saturday evenings starting July 31st and running through August 15th at the Mixed Magic Theatre in Pawtucket. RI. Tickets are $10 general admission and available online now at www.festival51.org. Visit them on FB at https://www.facebook.com/rifestival51.

Here are the plays to be performed:

The Waitress by Ainslie Caswell
Directed by Amy Lee Connell
An absurdist exploration on the questions of value and human nature. New England-based Caswell is currently working on a full-length play, and an autobiographical look at a year in her life “spent making questionable decisions.” Ainslie is also a regular contributor to Medium (medium.com/@ainscas).

Bone To Pick by Eugenie Chan
directed by Leann Heath
A postmodern adaptation of the myth of Ariadne. Chan’s work has been produced at such places as the Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, and she is a member of New Dramatists and Playwrights Foundation.

Hope Throws Her Heart Away by Susan Goodell
Directed by Christina Marin
A look at one woman’s life and loves as seen simultaneously through her id, ego and superego. Goodell’s work has been seen at Virginia Stage Company, Abingdon Theatre and The Barrow Group. After this Festival51 production, Hope Throws Her Heart Away will be produced in Chicago at Genesis Theatrical Productions.

Echoes on the Peaks by Deborah DeGeorge Harbin
Directed by Paige Barry
New Hampshire playwright DeGeorge Harbin weaves a tale about those who look to escape civilization in the Appalachian wilderness. Harbin is a playwright and instructor based in Manchester, NH. She received the Marc A. Klein Student Playwriting Award for her first play,Constellations and subsequent work has been staged by the NY’s Emerging Artist Theatre, the Run of the Mill Theatre, Stone Soup Theatre, Mountain State Rep and Asheville Fringe Festival.

Therapy a short film written by Shannon McLoud
directed and filmed by Chris Ferreira
A tongue-in-cheek glimpse of fairy tale characters faced with their true nature. McLoud has been involved in the arts in Rhode Island for almost 20 years, first as an actor, then director and now, playwright. Recent work includes Writer’s Block, a piece that she co-authored for the 2nd Annual Providence Fringe Festival, and two film scripts for the 48-Hour Providence Film Festival.

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