The acting company for the reading series, which is presented by The Lilly Awards Foundation on March 9, 16 and 23, includes Emily Bergl ("Desperate Housewives," Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), America Ferrerra ("Ugly Betty"; Lips Together, Teeth Apart) and Kate Mulgrew ("Orange is the New Black," Equus), with Kally Duling, Alexandra Henriksen, Colbie Minifie, Jesse Perez, Madeline Sayet and Erin Wilhelmi ("Perks of Being a Wallflower").
The series will feature new works by female playwrights Larissa FastHorse, Meg Miroshnik and Laura Schellhardt, with female directors Lear deBessonet (The Winter's Tale, Pump Boys and Dinettes), Tony nominee Leigh Silverman (Violet, Chinglish) and Liesl Tommy (Les Misérables, Appropriate).
Ferrerra and Mulgrew will be featured in The Comparables, by Laura Schellhardt, March 9; deBessonet will direct. Here's how the play is billed: "Three women vie for power in the cut-throat world of high-end realty. Bette runs her own female-dominated agency. Monica is her loyal second-in-command. Iris is the savvy new hire. When Bette's reputation falls under attack, the future of the agency is at stake. Who, if anyone, will survive the ordeal, and to what lengths will they go to ensure success? A dark comedy that begs the question: for women in the competitive world, is there more than one way to do business?"
Bergl and Perez and Madeline Sayet will be featured in What Would Crazy Horse Do? March 16. Tommy will direct Larissa FastHorse's play, which is "about two Native Americans who are facing the extinction of their tribe while the first female leader of the KKK is poised to bring a gentler version of the Klan into the limelight," press notes state. "When the two groups are brought together, they find that sometimes they are asking the same questions. When is race separation racism? And when is it essential preservation? It’s a question both sides need to answer before it is too late."
Silverman will direct The Tall Girls, by Meg Miroshnik. The reading, held March 23, will feature Duling, Henriksen, Minifie and Wilhelmi. Here's how the reading is billed: "The Tall Girls takes place in Poor Prairie — the dusty, desolate town where fifteen-and-a-half-year-old Jean has been exiled as caretaker for her wild-child cousin, Almeda. It's a grim, dangerous place to eke out an existence as a teenage girl — until a handsome man with a past arrives, a brand-new basketball in tow. As the town's girls come together to form a team set on making it out of Poor Prairie, a murky committee of townspeople threatens to stamp out girls' sports altogether. Inspired by the flourishing and decline of high school girls' basketball teams in the 1930s rural Midwest, The Tall Girls asks: Who can afford the luxury of play? And what is the cost of childhood?" "(3) Plays from the Kilroys' List: A Reading Series was created to support the Lilly Awards Foundation's mission to promote gender parity at all levels of theatrical production, and develop and celebrate the work of women in the theater," press notes state. "Released by The Kilroys in 2014, THE LIST consists of the 46 plays most recommended by industry leaders in a national survey of the best underproduced plays by female and trans playwrights. It was created as 'a tool for producers committed to ending the systemic underrepresentation of female voices in the American theater.'"
The Kilroys, a group of female playwrights and producers, is named after the graffiti left by World War II soldiers and others to make their presence known. They distributed The List in June 2014 after asking 127 playwrights, dramaturgs and artistic directors to recommend plays written by women that were among the best they had seen or read over the previous year but had one or no productions. Of the more than 300 plays that were recommended, 46 were selected.
After each reading, attendees are invited to join the artists and members of The Lilly Awards at "AfterChats" hosted by The Interval at Bea Restaurant.
The Lilly Awards Foundation's mission is to promote gender parity at all levels of theatrical production and develop and celebrate the work of women in the theatre.
Admission is free, but reservations are recommended and can be obtained at thelillyawards.org or artful.ly/the-lilly-awards-foundation. The Duke on 42nd Street is located at 229 W. 42nd St. To read the list of recommended plays, visit thekilroys.org/thelist/.