Chicago is known for its high buildings, deep dish pizza, and countless festivals. Seriously, the city has a lot of festivals. However, among the many food and music celebrations is Artemisia Fall Festival 2017, a showcase for women in theater.
From Sept. 25 through Oct. 4, Artemisia presents staged readings of six new 90+ minute plays written, directed and produced by women. The female-driven works are offered with interactive post-show discussions and without an entry fee.
“We are completely different from all the festivals that I know of in the combination of what we do,” says Artemisia Executive Artistic Director Julie Proudfoot, who founded the company in 2011. “We fully embrace a feminist approach to storytelling. All of what we do is driven by ‘her story’ and is a journey of empowerment…This year’s plays span centuries and follow fascinating female characters.”
The featured plays have not been published and have received little or no previous productions.
“We are definitely looking for the newest feminist work we can find,” continues Proudfoot. “And, very important, the leading female character’s journey is one of empowerment rather than victimization. In direct contrast to many stories featuring leading female characters, at Artemisia the women dramatized in the plays we choose find a way to take control of their lives and, in the end, overcome the obstacles they face with resilience, intelligence, and courage. We represent women on stage as complex, fully realized human beings, with freedom, agency, equality and autonomy. If you will, they are their own rescuers, mentors, allies, villains and heroes.”
The festival also represents its audience members by encouraging them to have a say in the Artemisia lineup. “Audiences attending four or more of the staged readings in Artemisia Fall Festival 2017 will be invited to vote,” explains Proudfoot. “The play that wins the most votes will be fully produced during our next theater season. I know of no other theater or festival that directly engages the audience in this way.”
Scheduled staged readings of the plays in consideration are:
- “The Rug Dealer” written by Riti Sachdeva, directed by Anu Bhatt, Sept. 25
- “Jarred” written by Eileen Campbell, directed by Elizabeth Swanson, Sept. 26
- “Rush” written by Callie Kimball, directed by Lindsay Tornquist, Sept. 27
- “The Malta Play” written by Kirsten Ebsen, directed by Rachel Innantuoni, Oct. 2
- “Reap the Grove” by Caity-Shea Violette, directed by Leslie Danzig, Oct. 3
- “Parts of Speech” by Janet Burroway, directed by Carrie Lee Patterson, Oct. 4
“Artemisia is thrilled to present the deeply compelling work of six remarkable women playwrights,” notes Proudfoot, who encourages audiences “to view women in a new light and shift their thinking around gender, particularly as it applies to women in leadership.”
Artemisia Fall Festival performances take place at 7:30 p.m. at Chicago’s Edge Theater, 5451 N. Broadway, in Edgewater. Admission is free but reservations and donations are accepted. For more information, visit artemisiatheatre.org.