Women in Theatre and Screen (WITS) has revealed Festival Fatale’s inaugural program featuring six staged productions, four play readings and 11 cabaret acts that celebrates female-driven works, to be staged at the Eternity Playhouse, Darlinghurst in late October 2016.
The festival comes as a response to the wider movement within Sydney’s theatre community to celebrate and enhance the ways we tell ‘Her Story’ in theatre. “WITS hopes that by showcasing women in theatre, more companies will follow our lead and give greater volume and quality voices to women on stage,” said Artistic Director and Co-Founder of WITS, Lizzie Schebesta.
“By not providing women with equal opportunity – as we have seen in historically male-heavy theatre season programming – Sydney audiences have been missing out. Festival Fatale’s program includes diverse, relevant and ground-breaking work that champions women artists and women’s stories.”
Representing the selection panel, director Kate Gaul announced the women-led independent theatre companies and their female-majority creative teams that will make up Festival Fatale. “Under 30% of plays produced on Australian stages are written or directed by women, and of those many are at the smaller, often independent theatres where remuneration is minimal,” said Gaul.
“In 2016 we are still educating theatre producers that women are capable and eager to contribute in all areas of theatre, including writing, directing, designing and producing. Festival Fatale encourages theatre goers to see performance work by women and reminds producers that equity matters to their audiences.”
Showcasing four play readings of unproduced plays by Australian women playwrights, this is an opportunity to enjoy fresh, innovative and groundbreaking new work by emerging and established women’s voices.
Gr8 Skin – Tee O’Neill
Gr8Skin is a feminist satire exploring the myths of beauty.
D+NA – Dana McMillan
D+NA is a conceptual work about how collective feminism might look. The performance is framed by data and looks to results that can be charted concerning our identity and politics.
Normal – Katie Pollock
Abigail faints. She’s developed uncontrollable tics. Soon the whole town is afflicted. Normal asks questions about mass hysteria and the struggle for teenage girls to fit in.
Fallen – Seanna Van Helten with She Said Theatre
Six women have been given a second chance. Closed off from the outside world, the women practise the art of being female and wait to begin their new lives on the other side of the world.
Showcasing 7 Staged Productions, it’s a program of unapologetic and bold theatre created by Australian women that will knock your socks off.
Australian Booty is a work consisting of a series of jokes, songs, stories and spoken word tracking Candy B’s journey from booty-shame to booty-pride. The work explores fierce intersectional feminism and empowerment in Australia in a delicious way. Writer/Performer: Candy Bowers Composer/Sound Designer/Performer: Kim “Busty Beatz” Bowers Lighting Designer: Daniel Anderson Original Director: Nelly Thomas
Slut aggressively explores the sexuality of young women in contemporary society. Lolita is the only named character, and is a slut. The play maps her rise and fall, her navigation of the line between sexy and slutty. It examines young women’s politics and the crucible of adolescence. Writer: Patricia Cornelius Director: Erin Taylor Assistant Director: Laura Johnston Actors: Maryann Wright, Julia Dray, Jessica Belle-Keogh, Danielle Stamoulos, Bobbie-Jean Henning Set & Costume Design: Isabel Hudson Sound Design: Nate Edmondson Producers: Edgeware Forum and Rue de la Rocket
Ronnàd is a selkie – a mythical being that is a seal in the water but a human on land. She finds herself trapped on the beach and is taken in by Séan, but struggles to fit into “human” life. Selkie is a play about “other”, cultural assimilation and emotional abuse from an intimate partner. Writer: Finn O’Branagain Director/Producer: Nicola James Composer: Helen Grimley Designer: Shelly Jam
A Little Piece of Ash
The play is about a young Aboriginal woman dealing with grief. It explores how to deal with loss and the survival of the modern Aboriginal woman. Writer: Megan Wilding
A comedic, satirical, cabaret-style piece that draws from famous cinematic female duos in order to subvert notions of power, beauty and age. Writer/Performer/Producer: Kate Smith Writer/Performer: Liesel Badorrek Designer/Stage Manager: Annete Twenlow
Too Rude takes inspiration from television Variety Hours and explores the complexity and problems of gentrification: renewing neighbourhoods, pop-up galleries and art in the city. The work is a comedic and experimental interdisciplinary work. Writer/Musician/Performer: Emma McManus Performer: Maria White
Black Birds is a collective of sisters on a mission to break down common perceptions & expectations of ‘Blackness’ and the Black woman in Australia through one common denominator – Hair. Creator/Director: Ayeesha Ash, Emele Ugavule Performers: Ayeesha Ash, Emily Havea, Sampa Tembo, Angela Sullen Composers: Meklit Kibret, Karaitiana Hemara, Tully Ryan
A speakeasy cabaret-style performance space in the Foyer, these women are unique, brilliant powerhouses – pushing the boundaries of their artforms.
A group of young women who sing and accompany themselves on the ukulele. They have a repertoire of 22 (and counting) original songs. The group is encouraging young women, their families and schools to get involved. Director: Danielle O’Keefe
Sarah Gaul’s cabaret tells the story of her life and the people she knows – all the stories feed back into her identity as a woman. Through song and comedy, she explores issues such as LGBTQI equality and the ethics of religion. She aims to empower through her show.
Yarramadoon The Musical
The story of a small town with a big heart. Come on a rural journey of a small town with big problems, sinkholes, deadly snakes, diesel shortages! Writers/Directors/Performers: Hannah Reilly, Eliza Reilly Music: Matthew Predny
Alysia Rose’s music is lyrically compelling and speaks to female issues such as abortion, objectification of women, love and the unspoken sisterhood all women share regardless of race and age.
Six Quick Chicks
CHICKS performances are different every time; they all rely heavily on audience interaction and provide quirky and empowering entertainment. They’re a collective of independent female artists who each have their own 5-10 minute piece in a Variety Show style format.
Silver-Foil Sally is an astronaut clown. Due to an unforeseen technical malfunction, she finds herself stranded on the moon.
Billie Rose sings her original work coming off the back as the successful lead singer/rapper of Daily Meds.
Curtains shows showbiz disasters accumulating through the style of black comedy and lesser-known music theatre songs. A bio-cabaret recounting Meredith O’Reilly’s life and the theatrical disasters that went with it.
Blockhead & Singing Saw
Marlena Rosenthal’s acts focus on typically “masculine” skills such as comedy and dangerous stunts, which aim to subvert female roles in entertainment. She presents a powerful, queer, funny woman on stage.
Why did She Leave Me?
An interactive cabaret featuring originals and covers about a feminist comedy duo splitting up. Performer: Irene Nicola
Kate Hood performs a selection from her play reading application for Triple Take.
Image: courtesy of Women in Theatre and Screen (WITS)