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‘Womana Fest’ celebrates on-campus female theatre

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The Appalachian Online

The women’s theatre troupe hosted Womana Fest on Monday at 6 p.m. to celebrate the voices of female writers, actors, directors and producers on campus.

The event included four plays in total and took place in the form of a play crawl, said play director and junior general theater major Katie Foster.

“A play crawl means we go from place to place for each performance instead of being in a theater with technical sounds and lights,” said Foster. “The audience is required to move with the actors, and because of this, the plays are very minimalist.”

Each play touches on a different issue, including mother and daughter relationships, Down syndrome and a “Coffee Play” that deals with a pregnancy scare and abortion, said Foster and senior theater major Melanie Lech.

“Bodies,” directed by Claire Lindsey, explores a mother’s relationship with her daughter who has Down syndrome.

“[The play] is focused on the girl and her inner struggle, she has the capacity to learn much and can’t express that,” Lech said. “Her mom sees her as a daughter with Down syndrome, if that makes sense. It’s about how there are kids who can make it really far but if society sees them as their disorder, it will make a negative impact on the child’s life.”

Foster directed the play “Yard Sale” by Marilynn Anselmi. The play focuses on a changing mother and daughter relationship as they deal with a generational gap. Freshman theatre and psychology major Lauren Pavlacka starred as Pickles, the teenage daughter of Effie (Lech).

“[Pickles] is kind of a brat, but I think it’s important to the script, which is focused on coming to an understanding between mother and daughter,” Pavlacka said. “It touches briefly on domestic violence, an absentee father, and how times have changed. Basically, Effie wants to build trust with her daughter and not have the same relationship with her that she did with her own mother.”

Lech also wrote “Black Sea” in addition to starring in “Yard Sale.” The conceptfor the play is not entirely set in realism, and instead deals with a girl and the place she’s created for herself.

“This piece is a solo piece,” said Lech. “It’s about the things in life that suck and shutting people out, but coming to terms with why you did what you did and then getting through it.”

Lech, Foster, and event stage manager Karina Galliano can all speak to the importance of holding this event on campus, and their futures in an industry where females are often marginalized. Foster states that it’s important to create opportunities for women within a school community first.

“It’s daunting and frustrating sometimes but that’s why it’s so important to create that confidence within the university,” said Foster. “The more work you put out with women characters who are not just ingénue, the better. It’s not just women who are an overcompensation in imitating traditionally male traits, it’s everything in between. You won’t get those characters for the most part unless you’re writing them.”

Next year, said Lech, the women’s theatre troupe hopes to branch out  and create a diversity group to give voices to women of color and LGBT students as well as other storytellers often left out of mainstream theater.

“Black Sea” took place at Durham Park, “Coffee Play” at the Local, “Bodies” at Bald Guy Brewery, and “Yard Sale” on Sanford Mall.

Story by Kelsey Hamm, A&E Reporter

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