Shining the Light for Women

Lights Down Productions have announced the second series of their online new writing project, the Light On Showcase.

The company was established at the beginning of 2018 by Caley Powell to produce female-led new writing. After work-in-progress showings, their first play, Hear Me Howl by Lydia Rynne had a two-week run at The Old Red Lion Theatre in September 2018 and six performances at the Vault Festival 2019. Their second play The Net by Zoe Guzy-Sprague was co-produced with Starbound Theatre at Tristan Bates Theatre as part of The Camden Fringe 2019. That was followed by Catherine O’Shea’s Shards at Camden People’s Theatre as part of The Camden Fringe 2019.

As the coronavirus pandemic grew and more theatre lights went down the company wanted to keep a ray of hope shining that was focused on female-identifying playwrights. They were invited to submit an experimental piece in the form of either a complete short scene of two to fifteen minutes or an extract from a larger work. That first series saw ten pieces of new writing by six writers, with nine female directors and seventeen actors. They were released weekly from the end of May to the end of July on Youtube. A particular success from that series was the award of an OnComm for The White Hart by Judy Upton.

Powell has been joined this year by co-producer Claire-Monique Martin, who was responsible for the online festival Around the Globe in 80 Plays, which raised money for Shakespeare's Globe. This second season consists of five monologues and five duologues all written and directed by women. The subjects are wide-ranging: someone talking of their experience of OCD; a cleaner working for a government official during the lockdown; a mother interviewing a clown for her son's birthday party; a daughter ringing her Mam for help after her dog swallows her keys and a piece exploring a relationship between two sisters during lockdown. Another piece builds around the life of Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to win an Oscar; how she stood up to racism and discrimination to ultimately triumph and how this subsequently impacted on her life.

All ten plays will receive their premiere on the night of Friday 21st May, a date chosen in anticipation of being just one month away from the end of lockdown. Adding to the celebration of connections made and the resilience of people during this difficult period there will also be an online disco during the interval and a post show Q&A. Anticipating the event, Powell said, “We’re very excited to soon be premiering these ten new short plays that are written and directed by amazing women and with a cast predominantly made up of women too. It’s been a joy to watch the pieces all come to life during our rehearsals and we can’t wait to share them all and have a well-earned boogie together in our online disco”.

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