365 Women A Year Theatre Festival at Florida State University

By Danielle Wirsansky on September 29, 2017

The Tallahassee community, with its huge and booming population of college students, is always starving for things to do, activities to participate in, and culture to immerse in. This weekend, those in the Tallahassee community have a special event open to them: the 365 Women A Year Festival being produced by White Mouse Theatre Productions at Florida State University (FSU).

planomagazine.com

The 365 Women A Year Festival at FSU will be an evening of five 10-minute plays, written as part of the 365 Women A Year Project, to promote gender parity in theatre, and to help tell the stories of women whom history has forgotten. It will take place at 8 p.m. on October 1 in the Student Life Cinema Phantom Theatre.

“This festival is incredibly important because it gives a voice to women who have been lost to history,” said White Mouse Theatre Productions Vice President, Rebecca Barton. “It showcases the diversity of our world and the important stories of the women within it.”

The festival is being done in partnership with the 365 Women A Year International Playwriting project involving over 300 playwrights who have signed on to write one or more one-acts about extraordinary women in both past and present history. The project’s ambitious yet focused goal is to write women back into the social consciousness as well as empower and promote female playwrights around the world.

Jess Eisenberg, one of the founders of the 365 Women A Year project, had this to say about her inspiration for the project:

“[I] grew up playing piano pieces written exclusively by white men, going to see plays exclusively by white men, and wondering in history class ‘where are all the women and people of color who did incredible things?’ It is incomprehensible that in 2017 we are still asking where all the women are or if there’s anyone other than white men who have written or composed.”

After Eisenberg co-founded Prologue Theatre Company in Chicago, she began research for a season based on female painters in history. However, the lack of material gave her a profound sense of loss.

“Our canon is a lie, when the names and works of so many are lost to us forever,” she said. Eisenberg knew that writing the stories of these women was imperative, and so the project came to be.

Their mission worked hand in hand with that of White Mouse Theatre Productions,’ a theatre company for social change, and so a festival was created to take place here on the Florida State University Campus.

Photo of a rehearsal of “Million Dollar Wound” in our 365 Women A Year Festival. From Left to Right: Marvin (Kenneth Moore), Gregory (Carlos Diaz), Elsie (Jaden Monnett), and Jack (Ian Weiner)

The festival features five plays by all female playwrights. They include, “Oh to be a Lesbian in the 19th Century!” by Jess Eisenberg; “Dying is an Art” by Kendra Augustin; “Whitewashed” by Lynda Crawford; “Million Dollar Wound,” by Danielle Wirsansky; and “Linda” by Diana Burbano.

These plays cover the gamut of different kinds of women from different time periods, races, ethnicities, religions, and sexualities. Women that featured include Elsie Ott, who led the first-ever medical air evacuation during WWII; Charlotte Cushman and Matilda Hays, two successful women in their own right who were able to openly engage in a relationship in Victorian England; and LaVern Baker, famous R&B singer and Georgia Gibbs, the singer who got famous by ripping off LaVern’s hit song.

In addition to each playwright identifying as female, the directors and stage managers for the festivals as well the designers of the festival and the Board of White Mouse Productions are predominantly female.

“In theatre, there’s no shortage of talented female actors, but the amount and quality of the roles available to women don’t quite reflect that,” said Grace Hayes, Secretary of White Mouse Productions. “Our festival is giving women in the Tallahassee theatre community the opportunity to portray fascinating and influential historical women while allowing them to reclaim their places on stage, and that importance can’t be overstated.”

Admission to the performance is free though donations will be accepted. The doors will open at 7:45 p.m. and the performance will begin at 8 p.m. on Sunday, October 1. The Student Life Cinema’s Phantom Theatre is handicap accessible. Learn more about the event here.

Liam Wirsansky, the sole male board member of White Mouse Productions emphasized what he hopes the Festival will provide for the Tallahassee community:

“The 365 Women a Year Festival is imperative as it continues the movement to support equal opportunity for all within theatre and shares stories that have been lost in time about women who’ve accomplished great feats throughout history. Hopefully audience members will come away educated and aware of the toxic social landscape our country faces today.”

~~~

Play: “Oh to Be A Lesbian in the 19th Century!

By Jess Eisenberg

Directed by Taylor Ross

Stage Managed by Adrianna Tran

Historical Women Featured: Charlotte Cushman & Matilda Hays

Play: “Whitewashed”

By Lynda Crawford

Directed by Gretchen Beaumier

Stage Managed by Danielle Lynn Dede

Historical Women Featured: Lavern Baker & Georgia Gibbs

Play: “Dying is an Art”

By Kendra Augustin

Directed by Sydney Nicole Newman

Stage Managed by Amelia Reeve

Historical Woman Featured: Sylvia Plath

Play: “Linda”

By Diana Burbano

Directed by Taylor Ross

Stage Managed by Mikayla Barfield

Historical Woman Featured: Linda Ronstadt & Lynda Carter 

Play: “Million Dollar Wound”

By Danielle Wirsansky

Directed by Elizabeth Lewis

Stage Managed by Adrianna Tran

Historical Woman Featured: Elsie Ott

Danielle Wirsansky graduated from FSU with a BA in Theatre and a BA in Creative Writing with a minor in History. She is a second year graduate student in FSU's History department where she serves as the Communications Officer for the History Graduate Student Association and President of White Mouse Theatre Productions. She studied abroad in London, England for the Spring 2015 semester at FSU's study center for the Playwriting Program and interned for the English National Theatre of Israel in Summer of 2015. Her first musical, City of Light, opened as part of FSU's New Horizons Festival in Spring of 2016. She has also won the MRCE and URCAA Research grants from FSU. In the past, she served as the Marketing Director for the FSU Student Theatre Association, the intern for the Holocaust Education Resource Council, and the research assistant of Prof. Nathan Stoltzfus. She has previously written for Context Florida (Contributing Writer), USA Today College (Contributing Writer), Sheroes of History (Contributing Blogger), No(le)Reservations (Contributing Blogger), Female, Reloaded (Arts/Entertainment Editor) , I Want a Buzz Magazine (intern), Mandarin Newsline (youth arts update columnist), Distink Designs (Guest blogger), whatscheaper.com (associate editor), escapewizard.com (associate editor), Spark TLH (Contributor), the Tallahassee Democrat (contributor), Elan Literary Magazine (Head of Marketing), and the Improviser Newspaper (Opinions Editor).

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