Nationwide, female playwrights are woe-fully underrepresented. Not so at Plan-B: Thirteen of the 20 playwrights of the company that work regularly through The Lab and the Theatre Artists of Color Writing Workshop are female. And it just so happens that the 2019/20 Subscription Series is entirely from female playwrights. All local, by the way. And who better than the playwrights themselves to tell you about their plays?
Playwright Camille Washington
Two headstrong Black women whose motives seem clear – one a psychiatrist, one a criminal – do battle for the highest stakes: Freedom. Ultimately the hope is that ODA MIGHT (premiering November 7-17, 2019) can be a uniquely theatrical experience. By that I mean I hope it raises questions, challenges perceptions, and forces audiences to engage with these characters and story in the moment.
Playwright Jenny Kokai
Allison, the central character in SINGING TO THE BRINE SHRIMP (premiering February 13-23, 2020 ), is struggling with her identity. But the parts she is struggling with are not the ones baked in – that she’s queer and a mom. It’s the way people see her and label her, and the snap judgments about her that impact whether or not she feels welcome in a room. For Allison, her sexuality is just who she is as a human. Whether or not she’s a Utahn, whether or not she can claim being a writer, whether or not she can get the Brine Shrimp in her head to stop singing at her, these are real problems. I’m not good at articulating this without sounding incredibly cheesy, but the point is that you can find community and a place where you belong. One that is very unlikely, and not where you might have thought you should be, or even where people have told you you should be: one that allows you to own all the parts of yourself.
Playwright Jenifer Nii
THE AUDACITY (premiering March 26-April 5, 2020) was going to be a story about one remarkable woman who made her home here in Utah in the late 1800s. However, researching Josie Bassett – a smart, independent, positively scandalous woman who thumbed her nose at customs, culture, and laws in order to live the life she loved in the wilds of Uintah County – led me to other women who lived with and near her, who were just as audacious, each in her own way.
So now I was in a pickle, albeit a wonderful one – I’d met Josie Bassett and her mother Elizabeth and sister Ann; their Latter-day Saint neighbors; and the “family” they gathered from fellow travelers and outlaws and refugees. Each of these women had a fascinating, important story to tell. At first, I tried to build a narrative that was plucked from recorded events. But then themes began to emerge that spoke (yelled, really) to my own experience and the experience of just about every other woman I know.
So the story has become more than a historical tribute. It became a story about the necessity of audacity – specifically, the audacity of women. Now. Today. Like the Bassetts, we find ourselves facing a jagged, dangerous frontier. Like them, we have decisions to make about the lives we deserve to live and what we’re willing to do to have them. The stakes are higher now than ever before and, with the advent of Twitter-spawned laws, the threats are more immediate. I pray that there are Bassetts among us. I’d like to think there are Bassetts within us. I hope THE AUDACITY honors those who have passed, and stands firmly alongside those who dare to live audaciously.
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