Female Playwrights on the Br!nk
Renaissance Theaterworks’ weeklong festival returns
“Contemporary playwrights do not have many opportunities to introduce new work to audiences, and statistically, women playwrights have even fewer,” Madison-based writer Gwendolyn Rice observes. “I have participated in many readings and performances of my plays in the past. I have never had a better experience than I did at Renaissance.” Rice speaks here of Renaissance Theaterworks and their upcoming third annual Br!nk New Play Festival, for which she will be conducting two public workshops.
Br!nk is designed to offer Midwest-based female playwrights an opportunity to have their new works given a thorough going-over by the skilled hands of theater professionals. Or, as Renaissance explains it, Br!nk is a residency program during which playwrights “workshop their script with a director, dramaturge and full cast—a team dedicated to researching and considering the play from every angle.” As the residency ends, public performances and workshops commence. This year’s workshops are “Your Story on Stage,” a two-hour presentation on how to convert ideas and experiences into plays, and “The Art of the Ten Minute Play,” focused on creating plays of rather brief duration.
As for the plays and playwrights of the 2016 Br!nk Festival, Renaissance presents Ten Thousand Moons From Here co-authored by Kathleen Allison Johnson and Gail Sterkel, and Before Evening Comes by Baton Rouge-born, Stanford University graduate Philana Omorotionmwan. Kathleen Allison Johnson has already had 10 of her plays produced on various Madison stages, while Gail Sterkel has previously written numerous 10-minute plays.
Ten Thousand Moons From Here is, as its title certainly implies, an outer space-based science-fiction story. Set aboard a spaceship at long last nearing its destination—a planet inhabited by a sentient life form with whom the crew has had little contact—the play explores how we humans would handle such a situation. Before Evening Comes is also set in the future, but in this case right here in America in the late-21st century. It’s not a very pleasant place—somewhat Orwellian, in fact—especially if you’re born black and male. So, what happens when a mother with four such youngsters decides to fight for their future?
Br!nk New Play Festival events take place over several days in different Milwaukee area locations. The “Your Story on Stage” workshop will be on Saturday, Sept. 10, and “The Art of the Ten Minute Play” on Sunday, Sept. 11—both at the Broadway Theatre Center. Ten Thousand Moons From Here will be performed Sept. 8-11 at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, Centennial Hall and Broadway Theatre Center, and Before Evening Comes on Sept. 10-13 at the Broadway Theatre Center, CORE/El Centro and Juneau Park. For tickets and further information, please visit r-t-w.com or call 414-273-0800.