Monday, August 09, 2004

Theatre by Women, Stories for Everyone

It's the slogan for Theatre Unbound this year but it applies to more than just them.

Despite an equal and often greater number of women than men interested and involved in theatre, opportunities for women remain limited. Whatever the reason, groups of female theatre artists are banding together and, rather than just sit around complaining about the situation, they're doing something about it - by starting their own theatre companies and creating more of those sought after opportunities.

Theatre Unbound is a Twin Cities-based women's theatre collective, run by an assortment of actors, playwrights and directors, always reaching out to new artists and new audiences. So the Fringe has become part of their regular season plans for the year. Last year it was The Love Talker (a difficult but intriguing play for me to mull over, still).

This year, it's a script the company created itself - Women! Live On Stage! Three of the company's playwrights delved into the history of theatre to find stories about female artistic innovators for the stage. What they found was a whole hidden history of overlooked contributions to traditions as disparate as kabuki and commedia del arte. Naturally, they found far more than any one Fringe show could contain. So it's likely they'll continue developing multiple small touring shows out of this material, to help spread the word of these forgotten stories. Happily, we at the Fringe get to see this whole project just as it's taking off. I know it might sound like the dreaded "theatre that's good for you," but rest assured, I've been chatting with people that saw their first show on Saturday afternoon, and it's great fun. I'm looking forward to it, and will doubtless have more to say once I've seen it for myself.

For more on the show and to add them to your schedule, visit their Fringe page.

For more on Theatre Unbound, visit their website.

But Unbound isn't the only one about this type of gender-blending work. A brand new Rochester, MN theatre troupe, using the Fringe as their launching pad, is also creating new opportunities and performances by and for women theatre artists, and, as their name clearly states, they think

It's About Time

The two-person show, Stones In His Pockets, is their inaugural effort. The award-winning Irish comedy, about a Hollywood movie company attempting a remake of the film, "The Quiet Man," and their effect on the people of the Irish community where they're filming (and the community's effect on the movie people) was written by a woman who is also an actor. Because it's a two-person show, with each actor playing multiple roles, theaters around the country have naturally snapped it up as easy and cheap to produce. However, despite the fact that the author is a woman, and the script calls for female as well as male characters, up til now, the show has only ever been performed by two men, and that includes the original production and touring companies. So this isn't some silly, "Let's do 'The Odd Couple,' only this time, let's make it two women instead of two men!" The roles already exist. So It's About Time is tackling the play with two actresses. Sounds like a good idea to me. And I have no doubt that new insights are to be gained from this deceptively simple, and long overdue, idea. A charming comedy, with a fresh perspective.

So if you want to see something you (and most other theatregoers) haven't seen before, this show would fit the bill. And you get the added bonus of seeing a new theatre company take flight, and being part of the audience that helps them get off the ground.

For more information on the show and to add them to your schedule, visit their Fringe page.

For more information on this theatre company, visit their website.

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit

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