The mission of Culture Project’s Women Center Stage (WCS) initiative is to support and vigorously promote the work of women artists, and to celebrate the unique contribution of women to social justice and human rights through the arts. The cornerstone of WCS, our Women Center Stage Festival, aims to be a dynamic and diverse laboratory for works in progress by women artists at all stages of their careers. The month-long Festival provides a much needed home for exploring new ideas and inspiration, testing out early stages of new work, and putting women artists in conversation with new audiences, potential collaborators, future mentors and a vibrant community of peers.
The highlight of the Festival is performance, featuring new artists every evening from teenagers to Tony® Award nominees, bringing to the stage some of the most exciting talent with the potential to have great impact on our future. This year, WCS explores works in progress, a workshop series of plays in development, in addition to weeknight roundtable conversations among artists and audience.
For the third year WCS will kick off with the next iteration of its unique and successful Directors' Weekend (July 13-14), in which ten directors helm brand new 15-minute works presented in two evening-length series. The works this year will explore how our country’s history is written by the media, how media manipulates the personas of women in power, and what realistic or fantastic colossal shift could occur to change the media narrative. The roster of directors will include Sherri Eden Barber, Tracy Bersley, Jade King Carroll, Lee Sunday Evans, Lydia Fort, Jackson Gay, Bridget Leak, Madeline Sayet, Dina Vovsi and Lauren Whitehead.
Writers and performers set to participate in the festival include Staceyann Chin (Tony® Award winning Def Poetry Jam on Broadway), Dael Orlandersmith (Pulitzer Prize nominee for Yellowman, Obie Award winner for Beauty's Daughter), Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai (“Russell Simmon Presents HBO Def Poetry”) and Dominique Morriseau (Detroit '67). Youth writers/performers to include Girl Be Heard, viBe Theater Experience, Urban Word NYC and the Prospect Theater Summer Teen Intensive.
"Women Center Stage was the very first project we did, as a tribute to my daughter who had passed away,” said Culture Project’s Founder and Artistic Director Allan Buchman. “It was a way to give artists a chance that she didn't have in life, and also as a way to keep her spirit alive. Every time we did something that was memorable or worthwhile I felt her smiling along with me as if we'd created it together. So we've always had a special respect for women artists, for artists that are struggling to make a difference.”
He concluded with, “I am grateful that WCS has grown into the idea of looking at artists who we feel have voices that can actually make a difference to our future."
Over the years, WCS has been an important launching pad for the projects of numerous artists, including early iterations of Heather Raffo’s Nine Parts of Desire (2003); Sarah Jones’ bridge and tunnel (2004), that went on to a sold-out Broadway run receiving a special Tony® Award; Staceyann Chin’s Border/Clash (2005); Geraldine Hughes’ Belfast Blues (2005); Lynn Redgrave’s
Nightingale (2005); Lenelle Moïse’s critically-acclaimed Expatriate, which became part of Culture Project’s 2008 season; and the recent Off-Broadway premiere of Anna Khaja’s Shaheed: The Dream and Death of Benazir Bhutto.