Culture » Performing Arts

Inaugural Women's Theatre Festival builds on Six Women Playwriting Fest success

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Women’s Theatre Festival, Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; through April 29. The Millibo Art Theatre, 1626 S. Tejon St., themat.org. - COURTESY MILLIBO ART THEATRE
  • Courtesy Millibo Art Theatre
  • Women’s Theatre Festival, Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; through April 29. The Millibo Art Theatre, 1626 S. Tejon St., themat.org.
Theater festivals only find success in diversity — meaning they must present both an eclectic mix of genre and a diverse array of stories to be interesting, fun and worthwhile. This inaugural festival from the Millibo Art Theatre promises that diversity, building on the legacy of the long-loved Six Women Playwriting Festival, which had its final curtain call at The Millibo in 2016. But The Women’s Theatre Festival isn’t just Six Women, 2.0.

For one, rather than accepting plays from all over the nation, the Millibo recruited only female playwrights from Colorado to submit to WTF (yes, the acronym is intentional). “We’re committed to our community,” says Birgitta DePree, co-artistic director of the Millibo and director of High Yellow, one of the plays opening tonight. “This is another way to transition from what they [the Six Women Playwriting Festival] did to something uniquely Millibo. And I think what’s uniquely us is supporting artists in this community more specifically.”

Plus, the format is as unrestrictive as it gets, as the Millibo accepted plays shorter and longer than the typical 10-minute runtime. Five plays of varying length will be performed alongside poetry, song and creative transition scenes. DePree, who usually hosts events like this as her alter-ego, Babette, says it was important to her to get the ensemble cast involved in the transitions, and to “shake up” the typical festival form.
Though much of WTF lands outside the typical. High Yellow, for instance, presents an introspective piece in three sections, told from the point of view of a woman of color expressing herself and learning how to navigate her relationship to the world and how it sees her.

The other plays sound just as intriguing: Do Lesbians Dream of Rainbow Sheep, Heart of War, Soccer Mamas and The Grands Escape. Each playwright interpreted the festival’s theme “#SHOUT, #WHISPER, #LAUGH” differently, with a healthy mix of comedy and drama, but all took to heart the spirit of the theme: self-expression. In the age of the #metoo movement, the honest expressions of women are as important as ever.

And while April has been and will likely continue to be the month in which the Millibo specifically calls on women creators, DePree says: “We really are committed as a company to making sure that diversity is represented in all of our choices. Not just one month a year.”

Check out opening night tonight, or ask at the Millibo about special events connected to the festival, such as the talk-back with the playwrights on April 20; the after-show party with cast and crew on April 21; or “Pogatry,” a poetry/yoga workshop on April 27.

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