By Carey Purcell
24 Jan 2014
Co-organized by Molly Smith, Arena Stage's artistic director, and Eric Schaeffer, Signature Theatre's artistic director, the Women's Voices Theatre Festival will launch Sept. 14, 2015, and run for eight weeks.
The Post reports that Schaeffer came up with the idea for the festival while eating brunch with six other artistic directors: Smith, Shakespeare Theatre Company's Michael Kahn, Woolly Mammoth Theatre's Howard Shalwitz, Studio Theatre's David Muse, Ford's Theatre's Paul Tetreault and Round House Theatre's Ryan Rilette.
The Festival will also include presentations by Forum Theatre, MetroStage, Synetic Theater, Olney Theatre Center, Imagination Stage, Flying V, Pointless Theatre, Dog & Pony DC and No Rules Theatre.
"One of the things we talked about was: How do we find ways to work together?" Rilette said to the Post. "Ultimately, the idea of a festival of some sort was the thing that excited all of us. Given the amount of discussion going on on the national level, we decided that for us to all do a world premiere by a woman would not only be exciting locally, but also hopefully to the theatrical community nationally."
The Post reports that, according to a study by Gwydion Suilebhan, the D.C. region's representative for the Dramatists Guild of America, 21 percent of the plays presented in Washington in the 2012-13 season were by women.
Women make up 61 percent of the theatregoing audience in Washington, D.C., and 68 percent of the Broadway audience, according to the Broadway League.
"There are a lot of conversations around the country about how women are not as represented as they need to be," Smith said in an interview with the Post. "This really is an opportunity to showcase a variety of female voices. People are talking about musicals, one-person plays, devised theater pieces, simple storytelling shows, dramas, comedies."
"If there is a chance to celebrate all these female voices," Jacqueline E. Lawton, a Washington-based playwright said to the Post, "the ricochet effect, I hope, is long-lasting."