Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The ProduceHERS: A Personal Reflection

This past weekend Bru Cafe hosted the SWAN (Support Women Artists Now) Day staged reading of Quarter Year Dilemmas, a one-act play directed by Halima Flynn and written by me. The reading was great. We had a stellar turnout! My husband was there as well as a couple of friends who always come out to support my artistic endeavors. Shout out to Carmen, ChaChanna, and Ros.

The cast did a phenomenal job as well. In addition to bringing my words to life, they lifted and connected the important themes of friendship and the roles friendships play in dealing with life's struggles to the audience. Quarter Year Dilemmas was written all most 10 years ago. After college I was hoping for 'Sex in the City' and the reality did not match up to the dream. The play was my second attempt at playwrighting and I wrote it at a time in my life when I was frustrated and disillusioned about my dreams and professional expectations in the "real" world.

Meet and greet at Bru Cafe, March 31, 2012
About three years ago I met Halima at work and we realized we had a common interest in the world of theatre. We would check out plays and talk about how there was a real lack of material written and directed by women in the public sphere. We found three women organizations (League of Professional Theatre Women, New Perspectives Theatre, and Women's Project) in New York City that were actively working to create parity between women playwrights, directors, and producers to their male counterparts in the industry. The initiative is 50/50 by 2020.

Did you know that while women make up approximately 60 percent of theatre audiences, less than 20 percent of the plays performed on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and in regional or local theatres is written, directed, produced by women? How could and would this affect women playwrights, directors, producers, and actors in Connecticut? We decided to take the ideas and work of 50/50 by 2020 and localize it, we brainstormed the ProduceHERS.

Evening rehearsal with cast members.
It took Halima and I two years to get to the SWAN Day reading we held on March 31, 2012. It wouldn't have happened without the support of the Puffin Foundation, Bru Cafe (they gave us a free space for the performance), our volunteer cast, the coverage from The New Haven Independent, and the support of other women in and outside the greater New Haven community who believed in what the ProduceHERS strives to achieve. I'm truly thankful, but while I am happy for a successful first reading the hard work of the ProduceHERS continues. We need to secure a space for our next reading and continue to fund raise so we can launch a production of the play by the end of the year. We also need to continue to inform audiences about the disparity women face in theatre as well as other fields in the workforce and to connect the dots on why it matters.

We are at the beginning stage of ProduceHERS.  I want to see this endeavor flourish, influence, and impact the lives of women artists.  I realize a lot of that will depend on the hard work, continued dedication, and persistence that Halima and I will need to exert. There is much more to do and to be done, stay tuned.