Female-Driven ONE MINUTE PLAY FESTIVAL Takes Stage This Week

Female-Driven ONE MINUTE PLAY FESTIVAL Takes Stage This Week

A performance from the 5th annual CHICAGO ONEMINUTE PLAY FESTIVAL. Photo by Juan Carlos Pelayo/HighFiveFoto.

By Abigail Trabue

When asked what led producing artistic director and founder of the ONE MINUTE PLAY FESTIVAL (or 1MPF) to focus this year’s Chicago festival on female-identified writers and directors, Dominic D’Andrea said “over the past couple of years the climate of the festival has been more women-forward, just organically. This, along with specific feedback from women in the community who expressed an interest in creating this space, the climate of Chicago theater often lacking these representations in their major institutions, and a general feeling in the zeitgeist that being women forward was a necessary thing, led us to create this space. We did not know if we’d see a drop in participation, but actually, this is the biggest cohort we’ve ever had at any festival–and easily the most engaged.”

And the list of writers and directors is certainly an impressive number. “We’ve had many/most of them before. They called this need out, and we responded to it. What I was surprised about was how many of our existing cohort suggested other writers that we didn’t know. We have about 20 new playwrights, which is always our goal, but we really hit that this year. The process was about us having to edit all of the many requests that came flying into us. This made it easy to find the artists, hard to find out how many to include, and solidified the need for the festival in the act of doing so. It was kind of amazing the need was that robust and obvious.”

74 writers and 11 directors ranging from established to up-and-coming will present new one-minute plays focused on reflecting the local theatrical landscape by creating a dialogue between the collective conscious and the individual voice. When asked what it is about this festival female playwrights found most appealing, participant Rachel Claff said it was the “prospect of meeting other women playwrights in the community and hearing what they have to say. It sounds simple, but it just isn’t. Female voices are perpetually silenced, crowded out, dismissed, or undermined. To have the opportunity to listen and respond to those voices and to connect and share our experiences without fear, doubt, or apology – that’s a rare thing.”

…for Romero it’s been about not feeling “the need to explain myself or my play in this process…I’ve felt tuned into it and able to just let the process happen.”

For playwrights Calamity West and Elaine Romero the process of working in a female-identified festival has made West feel “more at home” and for Romero it’s been about not feeling “the need to explain myself or my play in this process…I’ve felt tuned into it and able to just let the process happen.”

While a female-identified festival is not a rare concept for D’Andrea and 1MPF, this is the first time they’ve taken this approach with the Chicago festival. They’ve had a longstanding all women’s festival in NYC and are currently working with a national women’s initiative to have several female playwrights associated with 1MPF featured in several major cities, including New York City, San Francisco, and Minneapolis. And while 1MPF may have a history of female-identified initiatives, Claff  “didn’t feel pressure to write specifically about ‘women’s issues’, because the curators specifically said that we should explore whatever we felt was important to us and topics that define the Chicago and national landscape right now. Whatever we have to say will be filtered through a distinctly female lens, of course — and I think that will be really interesting to watch.”

The 6th Annual CHICAGO ONE MINUTE PLAY FESTIVAL runs for two nights only, May 3rd and 4th at The Den Theater in Wicker Park. Tickets are $18 and are available online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2515249

About author

Abigail Trabue

Abigail has worked as an actor/director in Chicago for over ten years, and along with husband Jason Epperson founded Lotus Theatricals in 2015, and PerformInk Chicago and Kansas City in 2016 (where she serves as Managing Editor of both publications). When not talking shop, Abigail is raising three padawans with Jason, drinking lots of coffee, converting school buses into RV's, and eating all the foods at Disney World. You can find her on Twitter @AbigailTrabue

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