Catherine wearing glasses and a blue dress and about to speak in front of a brick wall.

Women Authoring Change – The Zig Zag Festival

August 2, 2015

This piece was originally published with Hedgebrook in 2015 to promote my summer show at Annex Theatre, The Zig Zag Festival. I now know that “female” and “women” are limiting and exclusive terms. If I were to do it all over again, any language and production would be inclusive of nonbinary and trans people. It’s also unlikely I would produce it since I am complicit in the cis-white male heteronormative colonial patriarchal oppressive structure we are all forced to live under, and there are other individuals with much more interesting stories to tell.

July 2024

“Women authoring change.”

Women are the driving force behind a lot of what I do, during my day job and in theatre. I see women promoting the ideas, laying the groundwork for what’s to come, and making the decisions, especially at my artistic home, Annex Theatre.

Annex Theatre has become a place for women to author change in Seattle. For nearly 30 years, Annex has continued to produce bold new work while maintaining deep traditions of operating in a unique anarcho-democratic structure. In recent years, Annex has received Gregory Awards in the Theatre of the Year (2013) and Best New Play (Undo and Black Like Us) categories. When we were Theatre of the Year, our Artistic Director Pamala Mijatov spoke on our behalf. And the following year, we had the opportunity to watch Holly Arsenault (recipient for Undo) pass the torch to Rachel Atkins (recipient for Black Like Us), both women.

When we selected Holly Arsenault and Rachel Atkins’s plays, we were not focused on the fact that they were women. We were focused on how the stories moved us and how well they were told, which made us excited to produce their work. This was the same reason behind choosing The Zig Zag Festival, the project I’ve curated, performing August 4-19 at Annex. I was in the room when we selected Zig Zag. I had the opportunity to hear everyone’s opinions of and excitement for how I planned to bring together young and female artists to create entirely new plays on the Annex stage. We didn’t know who the artists would be, we didn’t know what the plays were. The Annex Company’s support was for creating as many opportunities for women as possible, which has become a strong reason behind why we choose any project.

Zig Zag brings together C. “Meaks” Meaker, Dayo Vice, Seayoung Yim, L. Nicol Cabe, Amy Escobar, and myself as we write and direct six new plays. We have been gathering since February to discuss what is lacking onstage, our experiences directing and writing and seeing new work, processes that have worked for us or failed us the in the past, and our hopes and dreams for this project and beyond. We have bonded in ways I never imagined, and each and every woman involved is being challenged to push herself artistically.

“Annex has this badass reputation in Seattle for focusing on getting women on the stage, behind the stage, writing for the stage and directing on the stage.”

Dayo Anderson

Annex upholds this reputation because of the involvement of Meaks, Dayo, Seayoung, Nicol, and Amy; because Holly and Rachel came to us when they proposed their work to Annex; because women are authoring change in Seattle theatre.

We have to be choose our projects with care, because we work side-by-side with our artists for 6 to 18 months to bring a proposal to full production. So we have to choose folks who are likable, show up, and will do the work.Year after year, women are showing up. They are showing up at our theatre to comprise the majority of our staff, they show up to auditions, and are hungry to act on our stages. Women propose projects they’ve written, that they want to direct, to design, to stage manage, to tech. Women are doing the work. And these women–on both sides of the selection process and rehearsal tables–are changing the stages of Seattle theatre.I hope you will have the opportunity to experience a small piece of this change, on stage at Annex Theatre during The Zig Zag Festival. There are only 6 chances to do so, but I also hope to grow and expand this process in the future, using what I’ve learned this year. I’m excited to see what this project does to change the lives of the connected artists and the audiences who come to engage.

Promotional photo by Laura Johnston.

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