The month-long festival features works written, directed and produced entirely by women, including Lynn Redgrave (Shakespeare For My Father), Staceyann Chin (Def Poetry Jam on Broadway), Dael Orlandersmith (Yellowman, Beauty's Daughter), Lucy Alibar ("Beasts of the Southern Wild"), Dominique Morriseau (Detroit '67), Leila Buck (In The Crossing) and Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai ("Russell Simmon Presents HBO Def Poetry") as well as directors Gaye-Taylor Upchurch (Bethany, Harper Regan), Jackson Gay (Collapse) and Nicole A. Watson (2013 Drama League Directing Fellow).
The festival also features poetry composed by Afghan women collected by Guggenheim Fellow Eliza Griswold and an evening written by girls ages 10-18 from Girl Be Heard, viBe Theater Experience, Urban Word NYC and the Prospect Theater Summer Teen Intensive.
"The mission of Culture Project's Women Center Stage (WCS) initiative is to support and vigorously promote the work of women artists, and to celebrate the unique contribution of women to social justice and human rights through the arts," press notes state. "The cornerstone of WCS, our Women Center Stage Festival, aims to be a dynamic and diverse laboratory for works in progress by women artists at all stages of their careers. The month-long festival provides a much-needed home for exploring new ideas and inspiration, testing out early stages of new work, and putting women artists in conversation with new audiences, potential collaborators, future mentors and a vibrant community of peers."
The festival will include the third annual Directors' Weekend (July 13-14), in which ten directors helm new 15-minute works presented in two evening-length series. The works will explore how the media writes the country's history and how it portrays women in power. They will also ask what could be done to change the media narrative. The roster of directors will include Sherri Eden Barber, Tracy Bersley, Jade King Carroll, Lee Sunday Evans, Lydia Fort, Jackson Gay, Bridget Leak, Madeline Sayet, Dina Vovsi and Lauren Whitehead.
Over the years, WCS has been a launching pad for the projects of numerous artists, including early iterations of Heather Raffo's Nine Parts of Desire (2003); Sarah Jones' bridge and tunnel (2004), which went on to a sold-out Broadway run receiving a special Tony Award; Staceyann Chin's Border/Clash (2005); Geraldine Hughes' Belfast Blues (2005); Lynn Redgrave's Nightingale (2005); Lenelle Moïse's Expatriate, which became part of Culture Project's 2008 season and the recent Off-Broadway premiere of Anna Khaja's Shaheed: The Dream and Death of Benazir Bhutto. "Women Center Stage was the very first project we did, as a tribute to my daughter who had passed away," Culture Project's founder and artistic director Allan Buchman said in a statement. "It was a way to give artists a chance that she didn't have in life, and also as a way to keep her spirit alive. Every time we did something that was memorable or worthwhile I felt her smiling along with me as if we'd created it together. So we've always had a special respect for women artists, for artists that are struggling to make a difference."
A full performance schedule, tickets and more information are available by calling (866) 811-4111 or visiting wcs.cultureproject.org.