Sunday, April 7, 2013

The WomenArts Blog Has Moved!

Dear Friends,
The WomenArts Blog moved as of March 15, 2013, and we are no longer posting articles in this account. 
We hope you will join us at our new address: 

We have published several articles about SWAN events during the past three weeks, which you can read on the new blog. 

Thanks so much for your interest in WomenArts.
                                                Martha Richards
                                                Executive Director, WomenArts

Thursday, March 14, 2013

SWAN Events Showcase Diverse Women in Theatre

There are some terrific SWAN events over the next few days that will showcase the diverse voices of women in theatre. 

In New York, the Culture Project's Women Center Stage is presenting Anna Khaja's Shaheed: The Dream and Death of Benazir Bhutto, a powerful drama about the former Pakistani Prime Minister which opened to rave reviews this week.

In Denver, the Athena Project Festival is presenting 4 plays in progress and the world premiere of Clinnesha D. Sibley's Tell Martha Not to Moan, about an elderly African-American couple in Detroit. Our Voices VII will be a day-long celebration of Boston Area playwrights, and on Tuesday, March 19, Actors Equity, the professional actors union in the U.S., is doing a presentation in New York about cross-gender casting of Shakespearean plays.

In addition to the theatre events highlighted below, The Modern-Day Griot Theatre Company in Brooklyn, NY is presenting staged readings of one-act plays by women; Key City Public Theatre in Port Townsend, WA is presenting an evening of monologues by women playwrights from around the world; and Liberated Muse Arts Group in Washington, DC is doing a presentation showcasing the voices and views of Lucille Clifton, Zora Neale Hurston, Lena Horne, Nina Simone and Billie Holiday.

These are just a few of the events that have been posted on the Support Women Artists Now/SWAN Calendar, and more are added every day. You are welcome to post any kind of arts or educational event that features women artists, including online events and online fundraising campaigns for women-led arts projects. We have posted instructions about How to Post Your SWAN Event, and we hope you will join us. The idea is to show the world the full power and diversity of women's creativity. 

Shaheed: The Dream and Death of Benazir Bhutto
Written & Performed by Anna Khaja
Directed by Heather de Michele

Anna Khaja as Benazir Bhutto
Watch the Video
Trailer for Shaheed
Writer/performer Anna Khaja illuminates the lives and historical forces surrounding slain Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007 while attempting to reunite a nation bitterly divided over the ideals of Islam and democracy. Through the monologues of eight characters that take place in the minutes before Bhutto's death--including Condoleezza Rice and Bhutto herself--we see how Bhutto's life and death resonate far beyond the boundaries of Pakistan, reshaping the world's struggle to reconcile the precepts of Islam with those of democracy.

Culture Project, 45 Bleecker St, New York, NY - Through April 1. Tickets & More Info:

Our Voices VII
Our Voices VII A Day-Long Celebration of Boston Area Women Playwrights 

Produced by playwrights Kelly DuMar and Hortense Gerardo with support from Nora Hussey, Director, Wellesley College Theatre Studies

Our Voices VII is a day-long event providing artistic support for Boston-area women playwrights. The day will include afternoon play readings with feedback sessions for the playwrights; an afternoon writing workshop; and an evening of staged readings of new plays performed by Boston-area actors and followed by a talk-back. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013 Noon-10 p.m.
Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre, Alumnae Hall, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA
More info:
Opening Up Possibilities for Women through Non-Traditional & Cross-Gender Casting Sponsored by the Actors' Equity Association Equal Employment Opportunity Committee

Joanne Zipay
Judith Shakespeare Company
This will be an evening of scenes and lecture-demos that will highlight ways to create more opportunities for women in Shakespearean productions and classical theatre.

Actors from New York’s Judith Shakespeare Company, The Queen's Company and the Messenger Theatre Company will present several scenes from King Lear; As You Like It; Henry VI, Part Two; Macbeth; and The Tempest; followed by a brief talk-back and Q&A.

Joanne Zipay, Artistic Director of Judith Shakespeare Company is lead director of the event.  Additional directors presenting work are Rebecca Patterson, Artistic Director of The Queen's Company and Emily Davis, Artistic Director of Messenger Theatre Company.

All three directors and their companies have done cross-gender productions of Shakespeare's plays and other classical works.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Actors' Equity Association, 165 West 46 St., NYC, 14th Floor-Council Room
This event is free and open to the public, but space is limited. 
RSVP to:

The Athena Project Festival Features World Premiere
Angela Astle, Founder & Executive Producer

Athena Project is a professional group of artists dedicated to supporting and expanding women's artistic contributions to the Denver stage and the wider community.  Each year, they produce an Arts Festival that includes the world premiere production of a new play by a female playwright, as well as female musicians, dancers and artists; a Plays In Progress series that presents workshop productions of women's plays; and Girls' Write, a year-long playwriting and play development program for at-risk girls.

This year they are presenting the world premiere of Clinnesha D. Sibley's Tell Martha Not to Moan. Set in 2007, the play focuses on a devoted but desolate elderly African-American couple in Detroit as the presidential election campaign plays out on the national stage and the 40th Commemoration of the Detroit Riot is marked.

Aurora Fox Arts Theater, 9900 East Colfax Ave, Denver, CO - Through March 31.  More info at:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

SWAN Events Take Audiences Travelling Through Space & Time

As of this morning, there are 95 events on the Support Women Artists Now/SWAN Calendar, with more are added every day. Please be sure to post your event if you have not done so. We will be doing two newsletters per week on SWAN events for the rest of this month.

We are thrilled that there are SWAN events all over the world, and that they represent such a wide range of women's voices.  In today's issue, we are focusing on events in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, and Minneapolis that will take their audiences through space and time. 

Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe and Pearl Gluck have both created works about travelling across continents to learn more about their history - one exploring the effects of African migration and slavery, the other examining her Jewish heritage. Meanwhile, The Women of Theater for the New City in New York, and Women's History Month: The Historical Comedybration in Minneapolis will travel through time to offer women's perspectives on historical figures and events.

Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe
Adventures of A Black Girl:Traveling While Black
A Solo Performance from Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe

Based on Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe's experiences as a Black American traveler/tourist in Africa, Europe, and North and Central America, Traveling While Black is part travelogue and part history lesson. It explores the tensions between tourism and colonialism as it reveals cultural connects and disconnects.

Inspired by Langston Hughes’ I Wonder As I Wander, Traveling While Black examines the post-slavery condition of Black travel, both fanciful and forced. March 15-17, 2013
Brava Theater Center  2781-24th St, San Francisco, CA
Tickets: $15   More Info>>

Divan - A Documentary Film by Pearl Gluck

SWAN Day co-founder Jan Lisa Huttner will introduce these screenings of Pearl Gluck's "Divan" followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker. This is the 4th annual SWAN Day program sponsored by the Chicago YIVO Society.

As a teenager, filmmaker Pearl Gluck left her Orthodox Jewish clan in Brooklyn for secular life in Manhattan. Many years later, Pearl’s father has one wish: that she marry and return to the community. Pearl, however, takes a more creative approach. She travels to Hungary to retrieve a turn-of-the-century family heirloom: a divan upon which esteemed rabbis once slept.

March 13, 2013 6:00 p.m. - Harold Washington Library Center, 400 South State Street Chicago, IL  & March 14, 1 p.m. - Northbrook Public Library, 1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook, IL. No Reservations Required

Barbara Kahn as Calamity Jane
Barbara Kahn as
Calamity Jane
SWAN DAY: The Women of Theater for the New City
Six women playwrights from Theater for the New City will be featured in honor of SWAN DAY and the company's 40 year history of presenting women artists.

Performers will include: Barbara Kahn as Calamity in “Calamity Jane Sends a Message to Her Daughter” by long-time WomenArts member Carolyn Gage; Victoria Linchong previewing her new play “Dispossessed,” about eviction, the history of apartments and a meditation on possession; Mary Tierney performing Barbara Kahn’s play “CO-OP,” about the gentrification of the Lower East Side; “Diary of a Thought” written and performed by Bina Sharif; Lissa Moira performing her piece “Multiple Movie Personality Disorder;” and Francesse Maingrette singing “Ne Me Quittez Pas.” Time permitting, there will be a 20-minute open mic (without a mic) for 5-minute presentations.

March 13, 2013 at 7pm. Theater for the New City. 155 First Avenue (between 9th & 10th Sts) NYC 10003. Admission is by donation. Reservations: 212-254-1109.

Kelsey Cramer as
Rosie the Riveter
Women's History Month: The Historical Comedybration

Created by Heather Meyer

If you were looking for a SWAN event in a combination theater-restaurant-bowling alley in America's snowy heartland, be sure to check out The Historical Comedybration at the Bryant Lake Bowl Theatre in uptown Minneapolis.

The show will take you on a comedic journey through the 'softer side' of history with comedy sketches and historical reenactments from the lives of famous women such as author Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rosie the Riveter, anthropologist Jane Goodall, Hilary Clinton, and more. This show contains real facts and also has Truth or Dare and the chance to win fabulous prizes. Featuring Kelsey Cramer, Brigid Anderson Kelley, Heather Meyer, & Shannon Troy Jones, with additional writing by Emily Schmidt.

March 14 & 15 at 7 p.m.
Bryant Lake Bowl Theatre, 810 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN
Tickets: $10 Advance;
 $12 At the Door  Buy Tickets>>

Friday, March 8, 2013

It's Female Artist Takeover Day!

The Female Artist Collective of Greensboro North Carolina has really captured the Support Women Artists Now/SWAN spirit by declaring today as the first annual Female Artist Takeover Day in their town.  Brava!!

Musician/actress Stephanie Lindley started the Female Artist Collective of Greensboro as a Facebook group in 2010.  Her goal was to encourage and support local female artists, and the group has grown to 160 members.

As their way of celebrating International Women's Day and SWAN Month, they have organized the first annual Female Artist Takeover Day.  They have persuaded venues all over Greensboro and Jamestown to present women artists, and tonight there will be events featuring musicians, singers, spoken-word artists, dancers, theatrical performers and visual artists.  Artists and audience members will be wearing magenta to show their support for women artists. There is an article in Go Triad with more information.

Through their Facebook page, they are also encouraging every women artist in Greensboro to make herself visible today whether or not she is part of one of the main events.  As they say, "Five Minutes. 30 Minutes. An hour. In your favorite shopping place. Show your art. Sing a song. Recite Shakespeare! Get permission and let it fly!"

This is a great idea. So many women artists feel isolated and invisible, and we need to do much more to help each other and let our communities know we exist. 

At WomenArts we hear from women artists all over the world who have discovered the power of forming support groups with other women artists. Whether you get together to do a SWAN event or for some other purpose, we encourage you to find and build support networks for yourself. 

Many of the most successful SWAN organizers started with a small group of friends, a simple flyer, or an online announcement.  Now they are organizing large annual SWAN events. You can do it too!  Finding supportive colleagues is the key to discovering your power to create, connect, and change the world.

SWAN Month in Jamestown, NY Starts Saturday

Jennifer Schlick's "Dandelion"
Congratulations to the women of Jamestown, New York who have organized a month of SWAN activities that will kick off on Saturday with an exhibit at 3rd On 3rd Gallery in Jamestown that will feature new photographs and art from Jennifer Randall, Angela Caley, Debra Eck, Jennifer Schlick and Ashley Ordines.

Debra Eck, who specializes in paper and installation art,  and photographer Jennifer Schlick are the artists behind last year’s “Women Create”, which celebrated SWAN through a juried exhibition of works by 40 women artists, lectures, workshops, an arts market, and the creation of a new installation piece.  “Women Create” was the most attended exhibition of 3rd On 3rd Gallery’s history.  You can watch a video recap on YouTube.

Debra Eck, Room for Utopia
Other events in Jamestown will promote Support Women Artists Now throughout March and April. Girls Rock 6, a live music concert on Friday March 29 at Mojo's Music Bar, will feature local singers and songwriters Kat Elfman, Lori Burke, Amanda Barton, Marla Harris, Gina Vecchio and organizer, Cindy Haight. An end of the show jam session will bring Natalie Langworthy and Sara Rafaloski onstage.

On Saturday April 20, Infinity Visual and Performing Arts will host an art market featuring the work of female artists and artisans. A lunchtime lecture about the history of women artists will be held across the street at the Reg Studio Theater. Throughout the day, 3rd On 3rd Gallery will remain open for Audrey Dowling’s art show, Comfort Zones. More details will be released at

For details on all of these events, visit

SWAN Tonight: Amuse Bouche & Golden Thread

Selected SWAN Events:

Amuse Bouche - Women Aerialists in NY Do Benefit for Women in Cameroon BlacK*acrobat (led by long-time WomenArts member Kiebpoli Calnek) and Upsidown Productions (led by Madeline Hoak) are teaming up to host a variety show at The Muse in Brooklyn, NY tonight to benefit Breaking Ground, a non-profit that supports community-based programs in Cameroon, including programs for women entrepreneurs. Kiebpoli Calnek is an actress and corde lisse aerialist. Madeline Hoak is a NYC based aerialist, dancer, and teaching artist. The evening will feature artists from New York’s vibrant circus, aerial and performance communities.
Read more . . .

Golden Thread Features Middle Eastern Women

Golden Thread Productions is producing "What Do the Women Say?" an evening celebrating the poetry and performance of Middle Eastern Women featuring work by New York's Layla Modirzadeh, Minneapolis- based playwright Kathryn Haddad,  and Bay Area hip hop artist Tru Bloo. Friday, March 8 at La Peña in Berkeley, CA
Read More . . .

Be Sure to Post Your Events on the SWAN Calendar!
WomenArts will be writing blogs, Facebook posts and newsletters about women's arts events throughout SWAN month.

If you have a project you would like us to feature, be sure to post it on our SWAN Calendar and write to us about it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Join the Words of Choice Live Streaming Events on March 1 & 2

Words of Choice
Women around the world are invited to watch two live-streamed performances of the popular pro-choice play, Words of Choice, and to participate in post-show discussions via Twitter, Facebook, instant messaging, and shared photos.

Words of Choice will be performed at The Secret Theatre in Long Island City, New York on Friday, March 1 at 7 pm EST and Saturday, March 2 at 3 pm EST. As part of the first-ever WiredArts Fest, the performances will be available to anyone with Internet access and will be shared with hundreds of reproductive rights and social justice activists.

Created by long-time WomenArts member Cindy Cooper, "Words of Choice” weaves together dozens of stories of reproductive rights through poetry, spoken word, oral history, theater and journalism. It is performed by three actors, and includes serious, comedic and contemplative pieces. Each performance will be followed by a panel discussion.  Friday night will feature Amanda Marcotte, who is the author of It’s A Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide and a regular contributor at Pandagon and RHReality Check, and Lori Adelman, contributing editor at Feministing. Saturday afternoon's discussion will be led by Lynn Roberts, a founding board member of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and an assistant professor at School of Public Health at Hunter College.

This production has often toured to states where reproductive rights were at risk, and it is an excellent example of the ways women are using the power of the arts to work for women's rights and social justice. As Cindy Cooper explains, she created Words of Choice because "theater is a way to transmit the pro-choice message, opening hearts and minds, and empowering the movement for women’s full equality and rights . . . everyone involved with Words of Choice is committed to moving public sentiment and influencing policy makers. ”

Host a Viewing Party! Start a dialogue with your friends about reproductive rights by hosting a viewing party to watch the play.  Words of Choice has prepared an excellent Viewing Party Kit that you can download here and a Free Original Poster that you can download as a pdf. There are also Free Itunes and Android Apps to let you participate in the event. Read more here.

Watch Online: You can watch online anywhere for free through Virtual Arts TV.  Free viewing comes with pop-up ads at any time. For a mini-payment of $2.50, you can watch online without the annoyance of commercials, and you are guaranteed a high quality stream.  Buy Online Premium Live Streaming Tickets Here (Note: Saturday tickets include an additional play at 2 pm at no extra charge.)  Here is a YouTube tutorial about the signing up for the premium WiredArtsFest LiveStream and using it. Suggestion: Set up your premium stream now, or at least a half hour in advance of the show.

Watch at the Theatre: If you want to attend the performance at The Secret Theatre in New York, please visit their website.  Tickets are $18 with discounts available for groups and pro-choice activists.

The Words of Choice ensemble will include Crista Marie Jackson, Carl H. Jaynes and Claudia Schneider under the direction of Francesca Mantani Arkus; Kelly Vieau is stage manager; Stacey Linnartz is Artistic Consultant.

Please Note: March is Support Women Artists Now/SWAN Month, and WomenArts will be celebrating by writing blogs, Facebook posts, and newsletters about our favorite women artists all month.  If you have a project you would like us to feature, please be sure to post it on the SWAN Calendar and write to us about it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Women Missing from the Oscars Again

Oscar Seldom Goes
Home with Women
The 85th Academy Awards will be handed out this Sunday, but once again, talented women are being ignored for the top honors. It's hard to believe since the Academy's record on women is so terrible, but they have actually managed to move backwards this year.

The Women's Media Center has reported that there are no female nominees this year for Directing, Cinematography, Film Editing, Writing (Original Screenplay), Music (Original Score), Visual Effects or Sound Mixing.  There were five female nominees in those categories last year.

The single woman nominated for a writing award, for best adapted screenplay, is Lucy Alibar for Beasts of the Southern Wild, who shares credit with Benhn Zeitlin (who’s also been nominated for Best Director). Across 19 categories 140 men were nominated for awards versus 35 women. You can see the Women's Media Center's breakdown of the nominees in all categories with comparisons to last year on their blog.

In 2009 Kathryn Bigelow's film The Hurt Locker won as Best Picture, and Bigelow made history as the first women in 82 years to win an Oscar  as Best Director.  This year, her film Zero Dark Thirty has been nominated for Best Picture, and so it is especially surprising that she has not been nominated as Best Director.

On Sunday, we will be rooting for the women who did get nominated, and we are especially excited about the nomination of Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick in the Best Documentary Feature category for The Invisible War, their powerful film about the sexual assaults of women in the military by men in their own units. The film focuses attention on members of the U.S. military who have been sexually assaulted (19,300 in 2010 alone), and especially on the plight of female soldiers who often find themselves ostracized or pressured into remaining silent about their rapes.

It will be wonderful if the film wins an Oscar, but it is even more impressive that the film is having an impact on military policy.  There have already been changes in the protocol for reporting the crimes, and hopefully the film will stimulate more legislative action to prevent further assaults on women in the military.

In 85 years only four women have been nominated for Best Director, and only one (Kathryn Bigelow) has won.  Our colleague at Women and Hollywood, Melissa Silverstein, has compiled excerpts from films directed by women. You can watch the clips below to see if you agree with her that these women should have been nominated for Oscars in the Best Director category.

Friday, February 8, 2013

International Center for Women Playwrights Announces New 50/50 Applause Awards

Applause Awards Logo
Applause Awards Logo
The International Center for Women Playwrights (ICWP)  has announced a new awards program for theatre companies that are achieving gender parity by producing seasons where 50% or more of the plays are written by women.  Five U.S. companies have been selected to receive the new "50/50 Applause Awards" for their 2011-12 seasons: Cleveland Public Theatre, Cleveland, OH; Little Colonel Theatre, Pee Wee Vally, KY; Nora Theater, Cambridge,MA; Playwrights Horizons, New York, NY; and, Symmetry Theatre, Berkeley, CA.

For the past 25 years, the International Center for Women Playwrights has worked to support women playwrights and draw attention to their work.  They are strong supporters of the 50/50 in 2020 movement, a grassroots effort which recognizes the current discrimination against women in theatre and seeks gender parity (50% women playwrights and directors in every theatre) by the year 2020.

The 50/50 Applause Awards are designed to recognize and reward the theatre companies who are achieving gender parity now instead of just talking about it. In announcing these new awards, Dr Jennifer Munday, President of ICWP,  said that “these companies need special thanks for the integrity of their decision-making.” The creation of these awards is part of the ICWP's 25th birthday celebration.

In recent years, there has been much discussion and research about the fact that women playwrights are underrepresented in staged theatrical productions. In 2009, Emily Glassberg Sands released astudy called “Opening the Curtain on Playwright Gender” which showed that only 18% of the productions done in the United States in 2008 were by female playwrights. She also found that “only 11% of shows on Broadway over the past decade [1999-2009] were written exclusively by women.” WomenArts has a web-page with links to this and several other U.S. studies at:

Research from other countries has demonstrated similar imbalances. Last year, Lyn Gardner of the UK stated “. . . of the 57 productions in the West End and the fringe that might be considered plays (rather than musicals or physical work), only six are written by women”. In Canada, Rebecca Burton and Reina Green reported that 30-35% of the nation’s artistic directors were female in 2006.

The cumulative financial impact of this discrimination on women is huge. If women can't get their plays produced, they also miss out on publication of their scripts, book sales, further productions and royalties, as well as commissions, residences and travel opportunities.

To qualify for the ICWP’s  50/50 Applause Awards, the companies had to produce women playwrights in both 50% of their productions and 50% of their total performances in their 2011-2012 season. Since the goal was to encourage more theatres to strive for gender parity, theaters that already included producing women playwrights in their mission were not eligible.

Nominations for the next round of awards will begin in March 2013. For full information about the nomination and selection process, please visit:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

WomenArts Rises! Join the One Billion Rising Campaign, Feb 14!

WomenArts invites our members — and everyone who wants to end violence against women — to join the One Billion Rising campaign and rise up on V-Day's 15th Anniversary, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013.

Founded by playwright Eve Ensler, V-Day is a foundation dedicated to ending violence against women world-wide.  Whenever anyone produces Ensler's play, "The Vagina Monologues", they are asked to donate part of the proceeds to an organization addressing violence against women. This strategy has been enormously successful - raising millions of dollars annually for women's groups around the world and creating countless new alliances between local artists and activists.   

One Billion Rising is V-Day's most ambitious event yet. As Ensler points out, "A billion women – one of every three women on the planet – will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. That’s ONE BILLION mothers, daughters, sisters, partners, and friends violated. V-Day REFUSES to stand by as more than a billion women experience violence."

On February 14th, 2013, V-Day is inviting one billion women and those who love them to DANCE, RISE UP, AND DEMAND an end to this violence. One Billion Rising offers a way to stand with women and men around the world and say, "Enough! The violence ends now."

Women and men from 197 countries will participate in One Billion Rising. They are organizing flash mob dances, reading poetry, performing plays, singing songs, marching, putting up posters, and doing a wide range of other activities. There have been video endorsements from many well-known actors, musicians, and dancers, as well as political and community leaders. V-Day believes that this will be the largest demonstration of solidarity on this issue in the history of the world.

This campaign is especially timely for women in the United States since the re-authorization of our Violence Against Women Act, which provides federal funding for investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, did not pass in the House last year and is currently being debated again. 

  • Organize a flash mob dance - V-Day provides step-by-step instructions about organizing a flash mob dance including videos that will teach you an easy-to-learn routine that Debbie Allen has choreographed to go with the One Billion Rising anthem “Break the Chain” written by acclaimed songwriter Tena Clark.  There are also One Billion Rising songs and dances from other countries.
  • Find Events in Your Community - You can search for events in your area at Event Central.
  • Organize Other Gatherings - V-Day provides an excellent list of suggestions about ways to involve people in your community and a toolkit with suggestions about documenting or live-streaming your event, sample press releases, media tips, and more.
  • Participate Online -  V-Day recognizes that not everyone can leave their homes, work, or classes; but you can still participate by talking with people online or in person about One Billion Rising and the 1 in 3 statistic.
WomenArts salutes Eve Ensler and everyone at V-Day for their tireless efforts to draw attention to the issue of violence against women world-wide for the past fifteen years. We urge everyone to find a way to participate in One Billion Rising next Thursday, even if it is simply by making sure your friends are aware of it.  This is a wonderful opportunity to express our solidarity on an issue that affects all of our lives.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Women Artists Organize for Gun Control

Women artists are responding to the recent shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and elsewhere by organizing for more gun control legislation.  In Washington, D.C. there will be a March on Washington for Gun Control organized by Molly Smith, the Artistic Director of the Arena Theatre and her partner, American Indian activist Suzanne Blue Star Boy, in collaboration with One Million Moms for Gun Control, Trinity United Church of Christ, Foundry United Methodist Church and the Washington National Cathedral.

In the video below, Smith and Blue Star Boy explain why they felt compelled to organize this event.  They make the point that since they are from Alaska, they can understand people who use guns to hunt, but they do not believe that people need the kinds of weapons that are available now.

The march is aligned with President Obama’s initiative on gun-control including reinstating the assault weapons ban, banning high-capacity ammunition magazines, requiring background checks, focusing on gun-safety training and outlawing bullets that shatter in the body.

The march will start at 10 a.m. at the Reflecting Pool on Third Street NW.  Thousands are expected to join this march to the Washington Monument.

Other theatre artists in Washington, DC have also stepped forward.  At 3 p.m. there will be a performance of “Boged (Traitor): An Enemy of the People” (based on the Ibsen play) at Theater J followed by a “theater action” to support gun control staged by NoPassport theater alliance at 5 p.m. at Georgetown University’s Gonda Theatre.

NoPassport was founded by playwright Caridad Svich in 2003. It is an artist-driven, grass-roots theatre alliance and press devoted to cross-cultural, Pan-American performance, theory, action, advocacy, and publication.  For the gun control action, Svich sent out a call for 3 - 7 minute plays in December. At the NoPassport event, produced in collaboration with Theater J, interdisciplinary arts ensemble force/collision, and Twinbiz, performers will read from new works by playwrights including Matthew Paul Olmos, Neil LaBute, Jennifer Maisel and Caridad Svich. 

In closing, we also want to mention a thought-provoking blog by playwright Tammy Ryan asking what it means that her plays with guns in them are the ones that get produced the most:.  She writes:

 "I have never owned a gun, never touched a gun, never even ever seen a real gun... but the characters in my plays do. Not in all of them -- just the most successful ones, the ones that have been sanctioned by the powers that be as "good," the plays that receive professional development, multiple productions, get published, and win awards. In each one of those plays a character either has a gun, shoots a gun, is threatened by a gun, threatens someone else with a gun, is afraid of guns or is somehow traumatized by the violence of a gun. This is a deeply disturbing revelation for me. I don't think of myself as writing about guns. I think I'm writing about family, communication, the power of forgiveness and healing. But the presence of guns in my writing is undeniable."  The guns in my plays (1/20/13 on

Reports on Women At the Sundance Film Festival

Gamechangers at Sundance
(Jacki Zehner is in the center)
Women are the hottest subject at this year's Sundance Film Festival, and there have been lots of great reports and reviews from women who are there. 

Sundance Board Member Jacki Zehner has been tweeting at @JackiZehner and posting first hand reports on her blog. Her initial piece is at:

There is some especially exciting news in her report on the Women At Sundance party ( )  Over 150 people, both men and women, packed into her house to celebrate the success of women filmmakers at this year’s festival, to discuss ways to further empower women in filmmaking, and to hear the results of a research study called “Exploring the Barriers and Opportunities for Independent Women Filmmakers.”

Also, to assist female directors in breaking through to that elusive mainstream Hollywood success, it was  announced at Women at Sundance that a new fund has been set up in partnership with Impact Partners and Chicken & Egg to directly fund films by women filmmakers. Called Gamechanger, this fund will be run by Producer Mary Jane Skalski, and will fund women directors in a variety of genres with the goal of making commercially successfully films. 

Melissa Silverstein of Women and Hollywood has also been posting lots of great articles and reviews.  doing great coverage.  We especially enjoyed Fariha Roisin's review of Salma about a Tamil woman poet's struggle against the patriarchy, and Kerensa Cadenas' list of Sundance Deals for Women's Films.

We also want to congratulate our Bay Area colleagues at Chicken & Egg Pictures.  Five of their grantees have films at Sundance this year:  After Tiller by Martha Shane & Lana Wilson; Citizen Koch by Tia Lessin & Carl Deal; Gideon's Army by Dawn Porter; The Square by Jehane Noujaim; Valentine Road by Marta Cunningham.  Also, two films by their grantees have just been nominated for Academy Awards - Kings Point (directed by Sari Gilman) for Best Documentary Short and The Invisible War (directed by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering) for Best Documentary Feature.