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head + heART

2022 Philadelphia Women's

Theatre Festival

nurturing mental health awareness through theatre

Festival Dates

August 4-7, 2022

Festival Venue

Arden Hamilton Family Arts Center 

62 N. 2nd St. Philadelphia, PA 19106

We are amplifying stories about breaking down barriers in the pursuit of mental health treatment and medication, and increasing awareness around isolation, invisibility, and stigmas. We know that de-stigmatizing mental health issues leads to people seeking treatment and a healthier society, but starting these conversations can be a difficult and daunting task. By offering a platform for these stories through art and live performance, we will open an accessible dialogue about mental health.

festival art created by Caroline Foglia


Thursday, August 4, 8 p.m.


When we fall

by emma gibson

Claire arrives at Trina’s birthday dressed like Little Bo Peep. It is not a costume party. While her husband finds this miscommunication amusing, Claire finds it completely embarrassing. Wanting nothing more than to go home, she spends most of the night in or around the bathroom, talking to a mysterious stranger. Through a story about loneliness, betrayal, and regret, playwright Emma Gibson gives us hope that we can find human connection, even across time and space.

Friday, August 5, 8 p.m.


Death Valley:A Love Story

By Sandra Fenichel Asher

Death Valley: A Love Story follows a doctor and a professor who find love for each other later in life. Unfortunately, their love story comes with an expiration date. Soon after Carol and David’s trip to Death Valley, David is diagnosed with leukemia. Months of chemotherapy and doctor’s appointments follow, with Carol supporting David and every step of the way. Based on actual journal entries, collages, and photographs, this story chronicles Carol’s journey through grief, love, and loss, and life after loss.

Saturday, August 6, 10 A.m. – 4 P.M.




Saturday, August 6, 2 P.M. – 4 p.m.


workshop Presentation - 

Works in Progress: Stories of Mental Health in Parenthood

Featuring Brie Knight & Julie Zaffarano

They say it takes a village. That adage applies to both raising children and making theatre. What happens when one doesn't have a village?  What resources are available?


Be the village for us as we workshop two plays in their beginning stages that discuss postpartum mental health. Acclaimed playwright Brie Knight tells the story of The Baby, exploring what may have happened if Nina and Trigorin's baby had survived in Chekov's The Seagull. Nationally recognized playwright Julie Zaffarano's play Tapping at the Window follows the true story of Julie's grandmother who discovers a family secret--that her mother hadn't been dead all those years, but rather institutionalized. Both playwrights will discuss their process and will be present for a question and answer session after the readings. Looking for your own village? A representative from the Parent Artist Advocacy League (PAAL) will give a short presentation at the beginning of the workshop to discuss the resources that are available for those in the business. 

Saturday, August 6, 8 p.m.






Grace is contemplating suicide, which is unsurprising since it runs in the family. Now, Grace must decide if and how she’ll go, and her dead relatives have a lot of opinions about it. Is suicide a genetic inevitability or is it a choice? Can Phoebie Bridgers solve everything? Family Tradition tackles the idea of inherited mental illness through a humorous lens.


the slippery season

by kanako Omae neale

Renee walks down into the subway with plans to jump in front of a train and end it all, for the third time. (What if there are kids nearby? What if she misses the train? What if it doesn’t work? What if she regrets it?) While she hangs her life in the balance, Renee befriends a few regular passengers, whose kindness touches Renee, and she changes her mind once and for all.


talking over tea 

by kimberly shimer

Joan has come to her daughter’s apartment to help her recover from her recent suicide attempt. Unable to cope with the reality of her daughter wanting to commit suicide, Joan begins to make tea. Jill, her daughter, becomes infuriated with her mother’s avoidance and the tension in the room comes to a rolling boil. Joan then reveals a family secret that brings the pair closer than ever.



by reva stover

Moments is a collection of vignettes about the struggles of marginalization. Each scene takes place in different locales, includes different characters, and addresses different types of feelings of insignificance. These specific vignettes highlight certain archetypes as they struggle with mental illness.

Sunday, August 7, 2 p.m.


Stella for star

by megan mcdermott

Stella for Star follows the journey of Tennessee Williams’, Stella Kowalski after the events of A Streetcar Named Desire. What happens to her, her child, and her marriage after her sister Blanche is led away? At turns both visceral and poetic, this tale centers on Stella as she sets out on a journey to uncover the truth about Blanche’s fate, discovering along the way a sense of agency, a passion all her own, and a new sisterhood with a nurse named Louise. With elements of lyrical and dreamlike storytelling that contrast sharply with the gritty realities of domestic violence and mental illness, Stella and Louise form a friendship that empowers both of them to reclaim their lives. Stella for Star is a story of sisterhood, survival, and salvation.