A few nights ago I had my first meeting with Heidi Heimarck and Ellen Graham, Executive Director and Artistic Director of Mae West Festival. Heidi and Ellen have selected one of my plays--Daughters of Catastrophe--for MWF production in the Spring of 2007. This is a hell of a compliment and I don't take it lightly.
Launched in 1997, Mae West Festival has been the producing and organizing entity for dozens of plays by women. The festival was founded by Heidi Heimarck and Elena Hartwell to address an odd and pernicious phenomenon in American theatre: Although there seemed to be many talented and fascinating female playwrights in our community, their work didn't make it to the stage nearly as often as work by their male contemporaries. And although the topic was discussed at conferences and coffee shops nationwide, not much was accomplished in practical terms. What Heidi and Elena did was to stop talking and start producing. Bless them.
Thanks to their efforts, a lot of very smart women got a chance to see their plays come to life on stage. And, let me tell you, when you write plays you have to see them. Readings are fine, and workshops are nice. But if you know that no one is ever going to turn up the lights, and tread the boards, and speak your lines--bringing real, live energy to the whole thing--you will probably become discouraged and give up. A play that is never performed is not really a play.
Mae West Festival--named for a lady who kicked all ass performance-wise--changed the scene in Seattle by giving voice to female writers. And you know how it goes: Once we start talking, we never shut up. Never.
You can read more about the history and mission of Mae West Festival.
Meanwhile, I am thrilled to be working with Heidi, an artist whose work I have long admired. And I am delighted to be collaborating again with Ellen Graham, who will direct the production of Daughters of Catastrophe. Ellen and I go way back--and I will share some of our theatre stories (both the magical and the horrible) with you here, in future posts. So, be sure to stop by again!