What is the mission of Protest Plays Project?
The Protest Plays Project mission is to cultivate connectivity between theatre artists, organizers, and audiences in the hopes of fostering civic action.
What inspired you to initiate it?
I started PPP after the 2016 election. An assault on civil liberties was already a hallmark of Trump's agenda, so seeing him get voted in was really motivating for me. I wanted to do something theatrical that would actually contribute to the movements rising up against what many of us see as gross abuse of our most vulnerable communities. I decided I would create the PPP site in order to connect playwrights creating socially conscious plays with Resistors. Our initial response was positive, but I realized it wasn't enough to simply aggregate plays, so I shifted away from being a "collecting" point and took on more of an organizational role. PPP has two main projects we're working on right now: The #TheatreActionGunControl support event and our Heal the Divide/Heal the Divide on Campus initiative.
With #TheatreActionGunControl, we are asking theatres across the nation to open their spaces to #Enough and #MarchForOurLives organizers, and/or to create opportunities for theatrical actions during the month of March. These can be play readings, music events, spoken word... The means are multitudinous—it's the focus (supporting this months civic actions for Gun Reform/Gun Control) that matters.
in addition to initiating this call to action, we're offering access to over 200 plays written in response to gun violence. Over 40 playwrights sent us the New Play Exchange links to their plays. Caridad Svich and NoPassport reached out with their 24 Gun Control Plays and AFTER ORLANDO collections. Claudia Alick sent us the Every 28 Hours Plays. Playwright Rachael Carnes put out a call for playwrights to write about specific school shootings and has already amassed a collection of 21 brand new short plays and monologues on this tragic subject. There's so much material available to support theatrical action, we hope theatres join us in putting these plays to work!
What are your hopes for the future of the Project?
I definitely hope that more theatres and theatre-makers connect with us so that we can continue to refine our approach and become more and more useful in addressing social issues through theatrical actions. I hope that #TheatreActionGunControl helps theatres dialogue with their audiences and communities about gun violence and explore the role we all can play in curbing that violence. I'd really like to see theatres incorporate more socially active work in their seasons, be it through productions, workshops, or readings. I think there is room for theatres to do more to educate as well as entertain their audiences. Theatre evokes empathy in a way that can open both hearst and minds, which makes it an important resource. I'd love for PPP to continue to find ways to help theatres be more socially engaged.
What else are you working on?
I started an online residency for socially engaged playwrights last summer (called Heal the Divide), and it has blossomed into a multi-campus/intercollegiate project called Heal the Divide on Campus Initiatives above. Last semester, students at six different colleges/universities wrote plays inspired by social issues of concern in their communities. This semester, each of the six schools will read plays from every campus in an effort to explore different cultures/perspectives and create opportunities for constructive dialogue. I'll be presenting a panel on this project at the Association for Theatre in Higher Education conference this summer along with Iowa State University's Charissa Menefee, and University of Texas-Arlington's Detra Payne.
Since I also run Little Black Dress INK, I continue to work on our Female Playwrights ONSTAGE Fest and as a playwright, I'm just over here also trying to find time to finish rewrites on two plays while getting started on a new one.