The Tennessee Women’s Theatre Project (TWTP) returns to the Looby Theatre beginning Friday May 3, with its seventh annual Women’s Work festival of performing and visual arts created by women. Running through Sunday May 19, the festival cuts a broad swath across styles and genres to offer nine completely different programs: poetry and essays; one-woman shows; new plays including a world premiere commissioned by the company; dance, music, film; and a display of visual art works in the theatre lobby.
Women’s Work 2013 opens with the debut public reading of the company’s second commissioned play. Theatre founder Maryanna Clarke engaged local playwrights Sara Sharpe and Christine Mather to pen a play about immigrant support and outreach groups. Christine and Sara crafted the script after conducting a number of interviews over recent months. The fruit of their work goes on stage Friday May 3, under the working title Voices of Nashville: Immigration and Community. An audience discussion will follow the reading.
“Most people are aware of the explosive growth in the immigrant population of Nashville and our region,” said Clarke. “Native-born residents are encountering people from all over the planet, and it’s not necessarily a comfortable thing. I want to explore Nashville’s immigration experience from the point of view of these new Americans, as a way of introducing neighbors to neighbors—as humans, not strangers or intruders.”
Other highlights of Women’s Work 2013:
Lauren Braddock Havey’s one-woman play A Journey to the Son, includes music written and performed by the playwright and hit songwriter Don Henry. Waiting for Pierrot, created and performed by Noel Williams and Allison Latta, is a response in commedia dell’arte form to the Samuel Beckett estate’s refusal to allow women to perform in his most famous play. North Carolina playwright Marilyn Barner Anselmi returns with a play entitled Found Object. From Canada by way of Delaware, Belynda Cleare brings a one-woman show called Staying on the Right Side of Sanity, the Diary of a Dirt Road DNA, which, among other stories, recounts her childhood experience as the only Black girl in a rural Nova Scotia fishing village.
Saturday, May 11, brings Dance Night, always one of the festival’s best-attended shows. This year features returning favorites Erin Rehberg with Core Project Nashville; Reasons contemporary dance ensemble choreographed by Marci Murphree; hooper Kinetic Kristen; Elaine Husted and Husted Dance; Heritage Dance Project; and Jen-Jen Lin with Chinese Arts Alliance. The program is rounded out by first-timers Salsa Fierce, Valerie Hackworth and Holly Cannon-Hesse.
A program of short plays and films on May 17 features Tigers, a play by four-time presenter Robyn Brooks; Just Grate, a film by Wendy Keeling that’s been touring the festival circuit; Love and Loathing in Nashvegas, a play by Tiffany Grand; I Made This, a film by Colette Divine; Conversations with My Mother, a play by Myra J. Stephens; Life on the Moon, a play by Mandy Ray-Jones and Katie’s Story, a reading by Greta McClain.
Wrapping up this year’s festival is a singer/songwriter matinee on Sunday, May 19, featuring Katy Kinard, Ginger Sands and others to be announced.
This year’s visual art display will feature works by Linda Schlanger, Rebecca Davenport and Birgit Hein.
To encourage the curious, single tickets to Woman’s Work are an affordable $5 each; a $35 Festival Pass is good for admission to all shows.
Women’s Work opens Friday May 3 at the Looby Theatre, adjacent to the Looby Branch Library at 2301 Rosa L. Parks Blvd. The festival continues for 10 performances through Sunday May 19. Performances are at 7:30 pm Thursday through Saturday, and 2:30 pm Sundays. For a complete schedule of performers, show dates and times, reservations and information, call 615-681-7220, or visit Tennessee Women’s Theatre Project’s Facebook page or website www.twtp.org