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2022: head + heART

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head + heART

2022 Philadelphia Women's

Theatre Festival

nurturing mental health awareness through theatre

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 Dates

August 4-7, 2022

Festival Venue

Arden Hamilton Family Arts Center 

62 N. 2nd St. Philadelphia, PA 19106

COVID-19 Reminder: All patrons must be fully vaccinated by the date of their visit. Vaccine cards will be checked at the entrance of the venue. Masks will be required throughout the duration of the event. For more information please visit:

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 therapists 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 every step of the way. Based on actual journal entries, collages, and photographs, this story chronicles Carol’s journey through love, loss, grief, and life after loss.

Saturday, August 6, 11 A.M. – 4 p.m.



Join us at the Arden Hamilton Family Arts Center (62 N. 2nd St. Philadelphia, PA 19106) for live music, theater for young audiences, artisans, yoga, meditation, and mental health resources.

The Wellness Fair will feature:


The Philadelphia Center Against Sexual Violence can’t wait to show you how to become a Woarrior.

The Shambhala Meditation Center of Philadelphia

Aspiring to awaken kindness, goodness and wisdom within society.

Yoga with Asana Alexa

Teaching accessible exercises for the body and the mind.

The LiveWell Foundation

Dedicated to helping people with depression live their best lives!

Core Workshop with Ground Up Training

Join Ground Up Training for an education-based Core Workshop, which will focus on stability & control, give you a great workout, and help you learn about your core. It's not about just torching your abs -- it's about learning how to PROPERLY use them!

Big Idea Committee

Big Thinkers are invited to take a wellness journey through acts of kindness, imaginative play, movement and breathwork.  All in favor, say "Aye!". Think BIG and let your ideas soar!

...And many more!










Enter our virtual raffle here, for a chance to win our GIFT CARD WATERING CAN!

- $20 for 15 tickets

- $10 for 7 tickets

- $5 for 3 tickets

Included in the prize:

$10 gift card to Panera Bread

$15 gift card to H&M

$15 gift card to DQ

$25 gift card to Pink

$25 gift card to The Playstation Store

$25 gift card to Best Buy

$25 gift card to Forever 21

$30 gift card to The Learning Express

$50 gift card to The Cheesecake Factory

$50 gift card to JCrew

in a small green watering can


Total retail value: $270

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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 was inspired by a true incident and explores the stigma of mental health and the anguish of family secrets. 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.

COVID-19 Reminder: All patrons must be fully vaccinated by the date of their visit. Vaccine cards will be checked at the entrance of the venue. Masks will be required throughout the duration of the event. For more information please visit:


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Emma Gibson

When We Fall

Emma is a British theatre-maker, now living in Philadelphia. She has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing and has worked as an actress, journalist, director, teacher and producer. She was the founding producing artistic director of Tiny Dynamite and currently teaches theatre at The Shipley School. Her plays have been selected, developed, read or performed at The Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Purple Rose Theatre, PlayPenn Conference, Spooky Action Theater, Miranda Theatre Company, Wordsmyth Theater, Vivid Stage, Panndora Productions, and the Valdez Theatre Conference. She was the winner of The Pittsburgh Public Theater’s inaugural new play competition in 2021. She has been a finalist and a semi-finalist for The O'Neill New Play Conference 2021& 2020, a finalist for the Blue Ink award with American Blues Theater 2022, Headwaters at Creede Rep 2021, Kitchen Dog’s New Works Festival 2020, Henley Rose New Play Competition 2021. She has been a semi-finalist for Premiere Stages at Kean 2022 & 2020, Ashland New Plays 2021 and The Bay Area Playwrights Festival 2021. She was in the top 100 for the Verity Bargate Award at The Soho Theatre, UK, and on the long list for The International Playwriting Award with Theatre 503, UK. More at Instagram: @emmagibson24

Sandra Fenichel Asher​

Death Valley: A Love Story

SANDRA FENICHEL ASHER's plays have been produced nationally and abroad; over two dozen have been published, including A Woman Called Truth, In the Garden of the Selfish Giant, and Jesse and Grace: A Best Friends Story, all of which received the American Alliance for Theatre and Education's Distinguished Play Award. Sandy is also a recipient of an NEA fellowship grant in playwriting, the New England Theatre Conference’s Aurand Harris Award, AATE’s Charlotte Chorpenning Award for a distinguished body of work in children's theatre, Aurand Harris Fellowship and Founders' Development grants from the Children's Theatre Foundation of America, and AATE's Sara Spencer Artistic Achievement Award for lifetime contributions to the field. Her work has been selected for the Kennedy Center’s New Visions/New Voices Symposium, the Indiana Repertory Theatre/Bonderman National Playwriting Symposium, and NYU’s New Plays for Young Audiences workshop at the Provincetown Playhouse. Founder and co-chair of American Theatre for the Very Young: A Digital Festival, Sandy is also the author of 25 books for young readers and editor of many anthologies, most recently American Heartbeat: True Stories Told in Scenes and Monologues (Dramatic Publishing). Six of her plays are featured in Tell Your Story: The Plays and Playwriting of Sandra Fenichel Asher (Dramatic Publishing). Born and raised in Philadelphia, Sandy now lives in Lancaster, PA, with her husband Harvey and their dog Gracie and cat Friday. More at

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Lori Felipe-Barkin

Family Tradition

Born and raised in South Florida, Lori Felipe-Barkin is a bilingual (English & Spanish) playwright. She holds a B.A. from Swarthmore College and is a proud member of The Foundry, a writing incubator hosted by Play Penn. Her play, Flor Underwater, received “Honorable Mention” for the Terrence McNally Playwriting Award and was selected for the 2020 Play Penn New Play Development Festival. Lori has worked with a number of companies and directors including INTAR Theatre, Team Sunshine LTD., Third Space, Live Source Collective, Josh Fox (Oscar-nominated director of Gasland), and Lars Jan. She has also performed and self-produced her one-woman solo show, The Funeral of Enerio López, in both Philadelphia and New York City. Lori will be pursuing her MFA at Brooklyn College this fall.

Instagram: @weelilshrew

Kanako Omae Neale

The Slippery Season

Drummer/percussionist who loves storytelling! The Slippery Season is her 1st short play to be staged. Her other works had been performed at Coronavirus 1 Minute Play Festival (via Zoom) and private readings. As a drummer/percussionist, she has performed at theatre including: People’s Light, Arden Theatre, Media Theatre, Theatre Horizon, and the Kimmel Center. Training: BM in Music (University of the Arts). Her original music can be heard on all streaming services.


More info on

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Kimberly Shimer

Talking Over Tea 

Relatively new to playwriting, Kimberly Shimer’s first play, “A Ghost of a Chance,” received a Zoom production as a finalist in FutureFest 2020 at Dayton Playhouse. In 2021, it was selected for Cincinnati LAB Theatre’s New Works Festival. Kimberly’s new full-length plays are “Eden 2.0” and “Dear Elsie: Kafka’s Letters from a Lost Doll,” which was part of Ragged Edge Theatre’s New Works Festival. “Talking Over Tea,” her first 10-minute play, won Arts After Hours’ 10-Minute Play Contest and was produced by A Light in Dark Places (Los Angeles) and Breaking Waves Theatre (Guam) in 2021. Kimberly earned a graduate certificate in Practical Theatre at Villanova University, where she discovered playwriting in a beginner’s level course taught by professor and accomplished playwright Michael Hollinger. The mother of two well-behaved young adults, Kimberly lives in Wallingford, PA, with her husband and two ill-behaved dogs. She pays the bills as Director of Marketing & Communications for Merion Mercy Academy.

Reva Stover


Reva is a director, playwright, actor, and producer with a BFA in Acting from the University of Central Florida. She has written works such as RUNNING (Wings of Paper Theatre), a series of commissioned, reimagined sonnets for 154 REVISITED (Revolution Shakespeare), HUNGRY FOR PAINT (Little Yellow House Studio), THUD (Stover Productions), and REASONS (Art and Vine Entertainment LLC). She aims to tell stories that examine the perspectives of marginalized people overcoming obstacles, from the mundane to the mystical. Reva is currently the Co-Artistic Director of the Azuka Theatre. She founded an interdisciplinary social change production company, Art and Vine Entertainment LLC, which focuses on creating safe spaces, dynamic representation, and opportunities for marginalized people. Art and Vine will launch it's first season in June 2022.

Instagram: @reva_stover, @helloreva, @artnvinee

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Megan McDermott

Stella for Star

Originally from Trenton New Jersey, Megan is an actress and playwright and considers Philadelphia her theatrical home. As an actress, she has performed regionally and in NYC and with many theatres in the Philly community including: The Wilma, Act II Playhouse, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Quintessence Theatre Group, Delaware Theatre Company, and EgoPo. As a new playwright, she has written Composing Clara; the story of the romantic era pianist and composer, Clara Schumann. And Stella for Star; a sequel to Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, which receives its first public performance as part of PWTF’s 2022 Festival. She is also Mama to her 1 year old daughter, Scarlett, and gives special appreciation to all the Artist/Mamas out there making it work!

Instagram: @mcdermott4738

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