Technically it’s just the second year of the Millibo Art Theatre’s Women’s Theatre Festival —aka WTF — but the MAT has been highlighting the work of women playwrights for more than a decade.
The format might have evolved over time, but what hasn’t changed is the focus on the work of women, says , Millibo’s artistic director. “One day it’s not going to be an issue,” De Pree says of fewer opportunities for women in theater. Until it’s not, WTF provides a platform for women to tell stories.
In its earliest iteration a dozen years ago, the MAT’s Six Women Play Festival was national in scope, inviting women from all over the United States to submit their short works. Now the event focuses on the work of Colorado women.
Until last year, De Pree’s passionate and outrageous alter ego Babette served as the emcee of the event, entertaining audiences as the stage transitioned between the short plays. That responsibility, along with set changes, now falls to the ensemble of actors.
This year’s WTF theme “You, Me, Us and Them” addresses inclusion and exclusion, De Pree says. Theatergoers can expect six works—five plays and one poem—with six directors and about 12 actors bringing them to life on stage. Three of the writers are from Colorado Springs and one from Monument. All the actors and directors are local. Five of the six directors are women. But in sticking with the theme of inclusion, De Pree says they don’t exclude men, except in the writing, of course.
De Pree enjoys the opportunity to see women supporting other women, but says the plays tell human stories. “The more we see the universality in plays, the better it is.”
She admits the festival does lean toward filling the theater’s seats with women—it makes a great girls night out—but she encourages men to come too. “The plays speak to the human experience,” she says.
The three-week Women’s Theatre Festival includes Colorado writers of all levels of experience. Open Concept, about an interaction between a realtor and her client, is Lisa Siebert’s playwriting debut. Similarly, first-time writer and director Kara Harrison contributes Positively Ridiculous, about Katherine who has been infatuated with “Cat Man” but finds things are not as they seem.
Moderate Proposal, written and directed by Cyndi Parr, is a rather timely inclusion that begins as two candidates face off in a debate about issues but end up debating about how politics are debated in America. One Man’s Trash, by Leslie Lewis, finds the actors sparring over what separates and unites, and what it means to be trash. Nomads of Disaster/Listening to Chernobyl tells a story of characters in a future nuclear zone. And the poem Like a Living, Breathing Janus, written by Lara Gaydos and directed by De Pree, is the story of one woman from youth to middle age; it is performed by the ensemble of actors.
Each play runs about 10 to 20 minutes. “You may not love them all,” De Pree says. “But if you do, they last about 15 minutes; if you don’t, it lasts 15 minutes.”
Watch for special events, such as a playwright talk-back.
Info and tickets: themat.org