PWTF 2021: Hometown Heroes
festival art created by Caroline Donna Designs
The 2021 Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival, Hometown Heroes, is a celebration honoring the voices of our unsung neighbors, friends, essential workers, first responders, parents, activists and more. Real or imagined, historical or contemporary, who we are or who we need, hometown heroes are the helpers --- the folks in our communities who work tirelessly in service of others. By centering and amplifying the voices of women and especially BIPOC women, the festival will address how the pandemic has heightened the inequities of race and gender, as the effects of Covid-19 disproportionately impact women and especially Black and Brown women who too often are asked to rise up to fix the harm that patriarchy and white supremacy have inflicted on our society. Through staged readings that celebrate local heroes who challenge norms, fight inequality, and do for others, PWTF aims to encourage further generosity, inspire future activists, and celebrate the power of humanity to spread light in the darkness.
August: 8 - 26, 2021
PWTF 2021: Hometown Heroes will take place over Zoom, with a one-day, in-person, outdoors celebration to take place in September.
A virtual-theatre-friendly dual monologue play, Up House Down is an exploration of two best friends in different stages of reality as they grapple with the challenges that go along with being women in unique circumstances and uncharted territory.
NASA Astronaut Joy is haunted by her past as she produces vlogs for teens during her five months onboard the International Space Station, and Air Force Captain Lacey struggles with what the future looks like in the very real aftermath of narrowly avoiding nuclear war over the course of a few hours in an underground bunker. The past and present collide for the women over the course of alternating monologues as they consider their places beneath and above the world, the lasting effects of trauma, and the importance of doing the right thing - even if it hurts.
Discouraged by her recent futile apartment search and the equally futile state of the world, Jaycee finds solace in the clean lines and pre-fab layouts at DUKTIG, her local Swedish furniture store. So she moves in. When others follow her lead, will she be discovered or start a revolution? A heart-warming and unconventional take on where we live, and the parts of ourselves we donate to make it home.
EVERYTHING THE DEVIL STOLE
Everything the Devil Stole tells the story of Patience and Mohamed, a couple who built a life, paid taxes, and raised a family in West Philadelphia until 2018. For the next two years, they live in involuntary exile, seeking sanctuary in a church due to their undocumented immigrant status. Their story unfolds in the final 15 minutes before they are able to reunite with their children. As the couple reckons with the guilt of leaving their offspring to fend for themselves, and the turmoil that separated families endure after narrowly escaping ICE raids and deportation proceedings, they find hope and joy.
GOD BLESS THEM
Tara is a black woman, a mom, a wife, the only daughter of her aging parents and a nurse. When the pandemic hits she also becomes an essential worker. But Tara is strong... until she isn't. Until she feels as though she can no longer take the heartache that people continue to pile on her as a "strong black woman." Tara turns to her grandmother's recipes, and through cooking and ancestry she is able to heal and have joy.
play by Nimisha Ladva
A South Asian mother who was a medical doctor in India retrains as a physician's assistant and works on the COVID front lines. When she succumbs to the virus, she comforts her daughter who fears her mother may die alone.
POR LA VENTANA, THROUGH THE WINDOW OR FOR THE WINDOW
by Iraisa Ann Reilly
"Where God closes a door he opens a window". Elena, a speech therapists, wonders about the origin of this phrase as she visits her grandmother for Christmas dinner, 2020. One problem- since Elena is working at the hospital, she must share this meal with her Grandmother through the window of her nursing home. In a spiritual world, they remember how they got there, and how throughout life they've had to search for the windows.
As World War II shakes the nation, sisters Beth and Frankie join with over a thousand women from across the country to answer the call to fly for the US Army Air Forces. Leaving behind their homes to train in Sweetwater, TX, these brand new Women Airforce Service Pilots soon master 77 different types of planes and become among the first to test the new B-29 bomber–risking their lives every day without the benefit of military status. From the fringes of the history books, Sweetwater brings the WASP and their fight for recognition center stage in an epic story of sacrifice, duty, love, and the joys and costs that come with being female pioneers.
MEET THE ARTISTS
playwright of "Up House Down"
Annalise Settefrati is a Philadelphia-based theatre artist with an MA in Theatre from Villanova University. She works primarily as a production manager, costumer, dramaturg, and teacher. Her original solo play 'Iphigenia' was adapted from the Greeks and presented virtually last fall. Annalise is the founder of Seven Trees Stage Company, serves on several Committees and Boards for local community theatres, and has spent 15 years doing high school drama.
"Sweetwater" Music Co-creator
Liz is a Philadelphia-based actor, composer and teaching artist. Favorite roles include Cunégonde in Candide (Arden Theatre), Jaques in As You Like It (Delaware Shakespeare), Helena in Midsummer: A Play With Songs (Inis Nua), Ophelia in Hamlet (Revolution Shakes), Cinderella in Into The Woods (Theatre Horizon) and Ensemble in Untitled Project #213 (Edinburgh Fringe Festival). Liz has composed for and music directed The Tempest (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), The Winter's Tale (Folger Shakespeare Theater), The Ice Princess, Shakespeare In Love and Hamlet (Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival), The Matchmaker (People’s Light & Theatre), and An Iliad, where she played the Muse opposite Peter DeLaurier in 2016 (Lantern Theater - Barrymore Nominee for Outstanding Sound Design/Original Music). Liz studied directing at the Cape Town Opera Company in South Africa, and is an associate teaching artist at the Moving Voice Institute in Toronto. She holds a BFA from the University of Michigan and currently teaches music for Play On Philly and the Wilmington Children's Chorus.
Kate Brennan has penned five musicals. Her work with The Infinity Trilogy: ALiEN8, Clean Slate and Illuminate, co-created with David Lee White, received a MAP Grant in 2021. She was a Mandell Professional in Residence at Drexel University with ALiEN8, which will be published with YouthPLAYS. Her book of poetry, elevated thoughts, was released with Literati Press in 2020. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Dramatist, McSweeney’s and Howlround. Kate is Designated Linklater Teacher, a Certified Yoga Instructor, Certified Thai Bodyworker, MELT Hand & Foot Instructor and has been on faculty with Oklahoma City University, Temple University, St. Joseph’s University, University of Virginia, McCarter Theatre Center and Walnut Street Theatre among others. Kate runs The Brennan Book Blog, is a member of The Dramatist Guild, AEA and VASTA and holds an MFA from The University of Virginia. Philadelphia born and bred, she is Artistic Director of Ignition Arts.
"Sweetwater" Music Co-creator
Sean Mahoney is a musical theater writer, guitarist, and DJ. He holds an MFA in Musical Theater Writing from NYU-Tisch School Of The Arts and a BA from UNH. As a songwriter, his work has been performed at Joe's Pub, 54 Below, Birdland, Ars Nova, and Symphony Space. Shows include FACTORY GIRLS (with Creighton Irons); Prep School Musical (with Sam Forman), The Invincible Three - The Origin of Butch Cassidy (book, music, and lyrics), Sweet Cassandra - A Greek Rock Opera (with Amy Burgess) and the ten-minute musical Diaper Derby (with Janet Allard).
Patricia Noonan is an actor, writer, and teaching artist from Havertown, PA. As an actor, she has created roles in many shows, with favorites including Sophia in Maury Yeston’s Death Takes a Holiday at the Roundabout and Elizabeth Bennett in Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. She has also appeared in revivals in NYC and theaters across the country including the City Center, Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center. Patricia can be heard on the cast albums for Death Takes a Holiday and Merrily We Roll Along and, where theater is currently being streamed, you can catch her in the PBS “Live from Lincoln Center” Carousel. She is a regular Guest Artist with the Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program at NYU and has been a Guest Artist at Emerson College, Boston College, and Sacred Heart University as well as a proud teaching artist in public schools for over five years. She is the book & lyric writer of the musicals Sweetwater (with composers Liz Filios and Sean Mahoney), Learning How to Drown (with composer Amanda Jacobs), and The Girl Who Fell Off the Key (with composer Will Healy) and a proud alumna of Boston College’s Presidential Scholar Program.
The Silent Shaker Project
10 Minute Plays
playwright of "Everything the Devil Stole"
Nikki Brake-Sillá (playwright + filmmaker) is Southern to her core with a Northern patina, and proudly calls Southwest Philadelphia home. She is the Founder of DrAW (Dramatists At War) and an inaugural member of Jouska Play Works. Nikki’s full-length plays include Trouble of the World, Finalist (Terrance McNally Award, Lark Apothetae, Space on Ryder - Family Residency), Semi-Finalist (O’Neill, Bay Area Playwrights Festival), Dear Ann, Residency (The Mitten Lab), Semi-Finalist (Premiere Stages), In Defense of Ourselves, Commission (Philadelphia Women’s Theater), and GTFOH. Her full-length narrative, A Weathering was a Semi-Finalist (Middlebury Scriptlab) and Second Round Selection (Sundance Narrative Lab). The pilot, L&D, was a Semi-Finalist (Middlebury Scriptlab).
She has received funding from The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation, RECPhilly, The Puffin Foundation, The Lark Foundation, The Princess Grace Foundation, the Leeway Foundation and the Regional Center for Women Artists. Nikki received her M.F.A. from the City College of New York and her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a proud member of Dramatists Guild and Directors Gathering.
Nimisha Ladva is a writer and storyteller. Her story performances have been broadcast nationally on NPR on The Moth Radio Hour and other programs, and on PBS in Stories from the Stage, and have been featured on many podcasts. She has performed internationally, in Geneva, and at the London Podcast Festival with RISK!. She is a Moth GrandSlam winner, a Moth Mainstage performer, and was twice dubbed the “Best of the Best Storytellers in Philadelphia” by First Person Arts (2016, 2020). Her solo play, Uninvited Girl, first staged in Philadelphia at the First Person Arts Festival in 2016, premiered in New York at the Women in Theater Festival in 2018. She is currently at work on a screen adaptation of Uninvited as well as two stage plays. Published in the U.S. and UK, Nimisha's writing can most recently be found in The Guardian online and RISK! True Stories People Never Thought They’d Dare to Share, an anthology. Her work has been supported by grants from the Mellon Foundation and the Leeway Foundation. She teaches writing and public speaking at Haverford College.
Keenya J. Jackson is an emerging playwright and one of the co-founders of Jouska PlayWorks at Simpatico Theatre. Her play Botanicals or Giving it to God, was the recipient of PlayPenn’s professional public reading in 2019. The ten minute version of Botanicals also received a production with Mojaaa Theatre in 2018. Additional plays have been produced and workshop/developed by The Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival (Amerrica’s Favorite Feminist, August 2020), Revamp Collective, Philadelphia Dramatist Center and other theatres in the Philadelphia area. A graduate of Arcadia University, Keenya continues to grow as a playwright by being an active member of Jouska PlayWorks and The Foundry at PlayPenn. She also enjoys learning and honing in on her craft by taking classes at such places as Play Penn in Philadelphia and the National Playwright Symposium in Cape May, NJ.
Iraisa Ann Reilly (She/Her) is a Jersey-born artist with theatre roots in Philadelphia, passionate about bilingual and cross-cultural storytelling. Select full-length plays include Good Cuban Girls (Teatro del Sol, at The Arden Theatre), The Jersey Devil is a Papi Chulo ( Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Latinx New Play Prize, Second Place Mark Twain Prize for Comedic Playwriting) Madame Anastasia’s Crystal Ball (Semifinalist, Bay Area Playwright’s Festival 2021), Medallas Por Un Abrazo (New Light Theatre Dark Room Series) and One Day Old (Philadelphia Fringe). As an actor, she recently appeared as “#14” in Philadelphia’s Theatre Company’s virtual production of The Wolves. Iraisa Ann has also performed her original one-woman show, A Beginner’s Guide to Interpreting Aphasia, as a part of Philadelphia’s Solow Fest. She was a semifinalist for the Page 73 Fellowship in 2019 and has trained with LAByrinth Theatre’s Summer Intensive and the Maria Irene Fornes Workshop (with Migdalia Cruz). She is currently a Development Studio Fellow with NYU’S Production Lab, where she is working on her original screenplay, La Reina Del Bronx. MFA in Dramatic Writing, NYU ’21 (Thesis TV), BA Theatre and English University of Notre Dame. iraisaannreilly.com.