To great success, last year PAAL partnered with Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival on the first ever Motherhood Reading Festival (northeast parents, our partners at PWTF are continuing their integrated kids programming this year! Check them out here if that’s your region. More on that soon). Because of last year’s incredible experience, I often wondered where else parents could find inclusion and support in festival content and structure.
The answer came with a phone call. On the other end of the line, an executive director spoke enthusiastically and eloquently about parent artist need, active initiatives, vision for multiple theatre support, and a game plan for a week of panels, workshops, children’s programming, and community for parent artists to find support and integrate into groundbreaking theatrical opportunity for their entire region.
You see, quick note, usually conferences and festivals that have a panel or a breakout session. Usually, when I engage in these conversations, the leadership is speaking wishfully or planning for farther into the future. This time, something was different. This time, the leadership was talking about all of these things, simultaneously, in regard to what was already under way and going up July 12-14, 2019. It wasn’t too good to be true – it was, and IS, happening. THIS WEEKEND.
Enter: WTF. Women’s Theatre Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“The leadership” on the other end of the line was powerhouse Johannah Edwards, Executive Director of WTF. PAAL actively seeks out programs that understand the inherent value of parent support in the fight for gender parity. Women’s Theatre Festival Raleigh was already bursting with it. When she invited PAAL to join in on what WTF was building, it was a privilege to say YES AND. Johannah, in championing the cause, is a mother herself – and for her – the worlds are one and the same.
Theatre artists who are parents: with champions like Women’s Theatre Festival breaking ground, our national efforts are primed for extraordinary growth. We’ve found the next frontier of support in the triangle – and we whole-heartedly throw our support behind WTF as well. Here’s why:
Check out the programming they have happening in ONE WEEKEND that engages with the parenting reality.
- WTF Kids Programming with Seed Art Share (multiple times – bring your kids!)
The Keynote Breakfast with PAAL Founder Rachel Spencer Hewitt
Mothers In Academia: “Swings” In Performance
- CRY IT OUT directed by Playmaker’s Rep Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch
- Panel discussion following Cry it Out
- A Mother’s Heart (Play)
BUT DON’T STOP THERE. I mentioned that it is integrated. This list of over seven parent offerings over the course of three days are all offered alongside and in harmony with the rest of their schedule dedicated to radical access, training, programming, and opportunity. Some highlights:
- Intimacy Choreography Masterclass
- Intersectional Casting and Directing
- Contemporary Clowning
- Disability Theory in Theatre
- Embracing Your Calling: Cultivating the Artist Within (WTF Kids Programming happening at the same time! YOU CAN MAKE THIS ONE.)
There’s even more listed on the comprehensive schedule.
PAAL Ambassador extraordinaire and dedicated Raleigh actor Katie Paxton, who has spent over half a year campaigning for Cry It Out, is on the ground and will be giving us updates as the week develops. Collectively, we can and must include parenting and caregiving as a point of accessibility in making art. The sustainability of our field is access leading the conversation on what we make. The action plan for this goal is on full display with the radical, comprehensive programming at Women’s Theatre Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina.
And about Johannah – I’ve got a big announcement about Johannah coming up, too.
and give them a shout.
Raleigh and surrounding areas, I’ll see you soon!!
Thank you for supporting parent artists,
Rachel Spencer Hewitt,
P.S. I’ll be there –
Please come say hello.
I can’t wait to meet you and
hear your story. In this together. Xo, R