The National Women’s Theater Festival presents Occupy The Stage 22, a livestream festival of new plays mixed in with encore readings of fan favorites from previous years.
Three bitesize dramas, Legacy by Daysha Veronica (dir Germona Sharp), Peace Plaza by Christina Toy Johnson (dir Leslie Barrera), and Primary Colors by Nina Ki (dir Simone Tetrault) form part of the Occupy The Stage this year.
Legacy is largely a two-hander between a mother, Toni, and child, Tiffani, celebrating the latter’s scholarship into the women’s college the family has attended for generations. Tiffani is changing their name to Harper and coming out as trans, and surprisingly she gets a reaction rather different to the one she expected. Set in a burger joint and running just 15 minutes, this is a quick conversation with a message about acceptance and not assuming anything about people.
Featuring Leslie Morgan, Shani Ray, and Destiny Whitaker, Legacy packs a lot into its short running time and could easily lead into a longer piece or a web series as Harper continues to transition across their gap year.
Peace Plaza runs 15 minutes, and is set in the late 1960s, on the day of Martin Luther King’s assassination. Lily has memories of being a Japanese girl, interned in the United States in wartime, and fears anything which claws at the ruling democracy. Her daughter Genie is friends with the Black Panthers and sees “their rights as our rights”. This is a complex piece for three characters, which begins with possible racism between five-year-old boys at school but escalates into the danger Genie has fallen into at the rally she attends.
Featuring Rebecca Hirota, Deborah Lew, and Nancy Ma, this is a very ambitious piece which touches on familiy tragedy, social cleansing, extramarital sex, casual racism, and political turmoil across a very short running time.
Primary Colors looks at the stories Korean women have to tell, as the three cast members (Sandy Lam, Mel MacQuarrie, and Anna Stacy) all play multiple roles. They are confident, queer, and energised, and yet the world around them fails to understand or accept them. One girl, adopted, is used as an exotic trophy by her white girlfriend and her parents; another is sidelined because her deeply personal artwork is divisory and impenetrable.
Living on the fringes of gangland and criminality, it is perhaps easy to guess some of the plot of this half-hour play, but each scene is carefully thought-out and impeccably performed. Without captioning, it may have been confusing at times to keep track of all the character changes, and there are a lot for the time slot, but it worked out and kept my interest to the last line.
You can buy tickets for the Occupy the Stage Festival with a range of pricing options here. Each day’s collection of shows remains available for 96 hours after their premiere, and each show gets two streams.