Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival Issues Call for Applications

PWTF commences its second annual year with new changes but same cause.

The Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival, a collective intended towards the creation of female opportunity in the performing arts, is currently accepting submissions for its second annual showcase, set for August 1st through 7th. 

In December 2014, the festival was founded by Polly Edelstein, Brie Knight and Christine Petrini, three thespians who met through Villanova’s graduate theatre program. The women were inspired to provide a haven for females artists facing a particular inequality plaguing the stages of Philadelphia.

Among the highest grossing theatres in Philadelphia, 20 percent of plays were written by women and only 10 percent were directed by women over the last five years, according to PWTF.

The festival selects a handful of original and devised plays to be promoted and produced through cultivating workshops, transcending theatrical stories from pages to platforms.

“The first year, we received over 150 applications, which really validated the need,” says Petrini, the organization’s managing director.

While PWTF maintains its mission from the 2015 inaugural year, some aspects are new as the festival embarks for a second time. Unlike last year, a central theme is being instilled in the search for submissions. All plays will encompass the recurring concept of risk — something women in theatre know rather well.

“The idea was, how can we create a constraint, but one that feels very accessible to everyone?” explains Petrini. “It can be very identifiable, but also strongly related to our mission; risk is something women are faced with everyday.”

Up to nine plays will be selected, according to Petrini. These topical plays will exclusively be produced as staged-readings or presented artists, also different from last year’s festival, which featured one fully cultivated production called Other Tongues, an original play centered upon 1960s Native American oppression written by Alisha Adams. Without a main featured play this year, there’s room for smaller pieces to have multiple runs.

The venue for this year’s festival is yet another new twist. Last year, PWTF, including all of its performances, was housed at the Asian Arts Initiative. According to Petrini, the venue for this year will be different, but it is yet to be announced.

Although the organization embraces changes in 2016, its core mission remains the same. “To be part of something that feels like a movement within our city is really exciting,” says Petrini. “We want to make sure people’s voices are being heard, but also that it’s not stressful. This is a platform; we will give you everything you need.”

Applications for playwrights and artists can be submitted here by March 31st.