Ongoing spring festivals feature women in the performing arts exploring everything from burlesque to the environment. Check out the lineups of the PlayGround Festival of New Works and the San Francisco International Arts Festival to mark your calendar for notable work by women in May and June.
PlayGround Festival of New Works: May 10-June 14
As an organization devoted to developing and producing new plays, PlayGround, led by founder/artistic director Jim Kleinman, presents this annual festival that includes a fully produced showcase of the six best short plays from its past season, staged readings of four plays in development and full runs, in rep, of two commissioned world premieres including Julianne Jagour’s “Bright Shining Sea” (May 14-June 16). “The ocean is so rich with metaphorical possibilities,” says Jagour in a phone chat. “It’s a model, or metaphor, for the human brain, what we know and don’t know, how it’s a mystery—that was really compelling to me. And it’s a metaphor for human consciousness, and I wanted to play with characters losing consciousness.”
“It’s a model, or metaphor, for the human brain, what we know and don’t know, how it’s a mystery—that was really compelling to me. And it’s a metaphor for human consciousness, and I wanted to play with characters losing consciousness.”
Jagour’s play is divided into the four seasons, the weather getting warmer while the chance of rain continues to be zero percent. Climate change, environmental degradation, the way we interact on this fragile planet—all those things were on Jagour’s mind as she wrote “Bright Shining Sea.”
Altogether the Playground Festival of New Works comprises more than 40 performances over six weeks. See more here.
San Francisco International Arts Festival: May 24-June 3
Amidst the 40 different ensembles appearing on multiple stages for this annual festival, two circus troupes show what women circus performers can do in the air and on the ground—without men.“Women play all roles of support that are traditionally given to a man,” says Cirque du Soleil alumna Aloysia Gavre, founding director (with her husband, Rex Camphuis) of L.A.’s Troupe Vertigo, in describing “Tableaux” (June 1-3 at the Cowell Theatre), a piece for five women; in it, the performers are trapped on an island of three black and white boxes, a metaphor for the ways in which women have historically been trapped by the conventions of society.
"Women play all roles of support that are traditionally given to a man."
In Montreal’s six-year-old, feminist-identified, seven-woman Coopérative Cirquantique, it sometimes takes several women to hold up one woman—a trio rather than a duo—which makes it interesting, according to founding member Mélodie Couture, whose specialty is hula hoops and trapeze. Five of the troupe’s members are performing in this U.S. premiere of “Bang! Bang!” (May 31-June 2 at Gallery 308), set in the “dark world of Prohibition-era Quebec,” in a bordello, where the girls are fighting against the (male) Mafia in order to manage their own business and their own bodies. Hula hoops, static and dance trapeze, contortion and more are involved. See details.