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: www.WomenArts.org/news/employment.htm.

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:  www.womenplaywrights.org/award.

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.