As a fan of new plays by women, I am fortunate to highlight three of our regional members. Their work delves into racial and gender disparities, social justice, and impending environmental disaster. These women are not writing fluff. Stephanie Garrison, Bridget Erin, and I crossed paths about five years ago through Southern Rep’s 6x6 play slams. We all competed for one of six staged reading slots. Bridget is a founding member of Generate Ink, and Mimi Ayers participated in the Gulf Coast Playwrights Showcase last October. A regional report is amuse-bouche. My sense is their work in process will forge new paths and voices in theatre.
Mimi Ayers explores the African American experience through her family stories. Mimi began her theatre career as an actor in 1969. Her transition to playwriting began when she performed her one-woman show, Three Women and a Crone, originally produced at the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago. Mimi moved to New Orleans in 2016, received her MFA from UNO, and established a new artistic home here.
For End of Play, Mimi is revising her play Man 2 Man. Two men are juxtaposed across two generations struggling with different eras of white, racist society. Her father, a Vet, returns to the lingering Jim Crow South, his father, a sharecropper, is run off his farm in the 1930s Depression. “I see now what everyone always saw, my daddy was a man wherever he stands.”
Stephanie Garrison and Megan Kosmoski, director/co-producer, are mounting Stephanie’s play Broken Codes in New Orleans this May.
Broken Codes takes place in the near future, when LOOP (Louisiana Off Shore Oil Ports) Corporations take advantage of coastal-erosion-devastation in the Gulf Coast. Her work touches on gentrification, classism, and land loss. The main characters are a Louisiana native and a transplant hacker who attempt to reclaim power for the people against the Corporation. Garrison and Kosmoski held a successful Indiegogo funding campaign in February and met their goal. “We were blown away by the support we received.”
Self-producing is often the only way to move beyond the submissions process for many playwrights. Congratulations to Stephanie and Megan!
Bridget Erin takes on big moral and ethical issues and represents both sides of an issue. We discussed how female and male playwrights differ, “as women we come down on the side of compromise. Our characters represent our ambiguity on issues. Exploring the grey areas gives audiences a chance to discover.” Her play Rockton Waves, is about how a present-day fictional theater company copes with revelations the charismatic Artistic Director, facing retirement, may have treated women inappropriately over the course of his career. Impact from the #MeToo Movement forces the theatre to redefine acceptable behavior and apply that lens over a thirty plus year career. Bridget is working on Rockton Waves for End of Play.
“Last summer I wrote a very emotionally charged new full length play Lower Decatur. Originally written as a novel in 2009, it never felt like where it needed to be. I found inspiration after the death of two close friends, both on very distinct artistic paths. The writing of the play took over my life for six weeks.” Bridget lives in Dunham Springs, LA, with her husband and two young children, she works full time in early education and is pursuing her second Masters in Jewish Education. I’m impressed by how Bridget manages to write on top of her full plate of life!
My respect for Mimi, Stephanie, and Bridget extends beyond their writing and the topics they explore, to their ability to integrate creative work with busy lives. These women are only a few examples of the talented pool of Dramatist Guild members in our region. In my estimation, definitely playwrights to keep your eye on.