DETROIT – BoxFest Detroit, an annual theatre festival that showcases and creates opportunities for female-identifying directors, has announced the schedule for its 2018 festival. BoxFest Detroit 2018runs Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons and evenings, August 17 – 25, at Planet Ant Theatre. Planet Ant Theatre is located at 2357 Caniff, Hamtramck, MI, 48212. Admission is payable by cash and credit cards at the door with day passes for $10. A limited number of festival passes are on sale for $30 and may also be purchased at the door. More information and a link to BoxFest Detroit’s annual Indiegogo fundraiser can be found at http://www.boxfestdetroit.com.

Over the two weekends long festival, BoxFest Detroit 2018presents the work of 11 local women theatre artists. Directors reshaping the box this year are Kaitlyn Valor Bourque, Charity Clark-Anderson, Mary Conley, Gabriella S. Csapo, Amanda Grace Ewing, Rebecca Godwin, Callie McKee, Kez Settle, Frannie Shepherd-Bates, Michelle Studer, and Megan Wright. The producing team for BoxFest Detroit 2018includes Amanda Grace Ewing, Kelly Rossi, and Molly McMahon. In addition to the performances, the festival will also feature Talkbacks with the Directors on opening weekend and an Awards Ceremony on closing night.

BoxFest Detroit produces festivals that allow female-identifying directors the opportunities to direct original shows of their choice and win awards to help further their careers in directing. The winning director of the audience vote competition is given the opportunity to direct a show with Planet Ant Theatre’s Late Night Series. One director will also be chosen to direct for Tipping Point Theatre’s upcoming Sandbox Festival of New Plays. This summer, BoxFest Detroit is expanding its Mentorship Program after its inaugural year during the 2017 festival, and at least one director will receive a mentorship award.

Directors participating in BoxFest Detroit 2018may apply to the Mentorship Program, which provides them financial support and the opportunity to assistant direct with established, female-identifying directors on upcoming productions at professional theatres in southeastern Michigan. This year’s Mentorship Associates are Frannie Shepherd-Bates, Sherrine Azab, Courtney Burkett, Angie Kane Ferrante, Casaundra Freeman, and Lynn Lammers. This year’s partner theatres are Tipping Point Theatre, Detroit Public Theatre, A Host of People, Matrix Theatre Company, and Kickshaw Theatre.

“I’m excited about the support we still have, 15 years after launching the festival,” said BoxFest Detroit’s Artistic Director, Amanda Grace Ewing. “The growth of the Mentorship Program illustrates the dedication of our theatre community to support the work of female-identifying directors and is a testament to the work BoxFest has done over the past 15 years to showcase and advocate for the work of women directors.”

“This year, the mix of seasoned and first-time directors is very exciting,” said Executive Director, Kelly Rossi. “Our community is incredibly giving, and this generosity is visible through our growing mentorship program, as well as the organic mentorship that happens between directors throughout the festival.”

BoxFest Detroit 2018 runs Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons and evenings, August 17 – 25, at Planet Ant Theatre. Planet Ant Theatre is located at 2357 Caniff, Hamtramck, MI, 48212. Admission is payable by cash and credit cards at the door with day passes for $10. A limited number of festival passes are on sale for $30 and may also be purchased at the door.

Detailed Schedule for BoxFest Detroit 2018

Box 1:
Sic Semper Trilogy: A Travesty of Ahistoric Proportions; In Three Parts by Jonathan Davidson and Frannie Shepherd-Bates, directed by Frannie Shepherd-Bates

Box 2:
Autour du Litby Laura King, directed by Gabriella S. Csapo
A Day in the Life of Keasha by Akasha Griffen and Ronnisha Bryant, directed by Amanda Grace Ewing
Getting Unstuck by Scott Mullen, directed by Michelle Studer

Box 3:
Help Me Get Over You by Rollin Jewett, directed by Megan Wright
Weather by Callie McKee, directed by Callie McKee

Box 4:
Advance Directive by Thomas J. Misuraca, directed by Kez Settle
Stars by D. J. Sylvis, directed by Rebecca Godwin
Apple Pie Love by Charity Clark-Anderson, directed by Charity Clark-Anderson

Box 5:
Romancing the Tombstone by Laura King, directed by Mary Conley
The Lady Romeo by Elaine Brousseau, directed by Kaitlyn ValorBourque

Friday, August 17:
7pm: Cocktail hour
8pm: Box 1
9pm: Box 5
10pm: Talkback with the Directors

Saturday, August 18:
3pm: Box 5
4pm: Box 4
5pm: Box 3
7pm: Cocktail hour
8pm: Box 4
9pm: Box 2
10pm: Talkback with the Directors

Friday, August 24:
7pm: Cocktail hour
8pm: Box 2
9pm: Box 3
10pm: Box 1

Saturday, August 25:
3pm: Box 3
4pm: Box 4
5pm: Box 5
7pm: Cocktail hour
8pm: Box 2
9pm: Box 1
10pm: Awards Ceremony

BOXFEST DETROIT ANNOUNCES NON-PROFIT STATUS

Producers announce fundraiser to celebrate non-profit status

DETROIT—BoxFest Detroit, an annual theatre festival that showcases and creates opportunities for women directors, is announcing that they have recently been approved for non-profit status and are launching a fundraiser to support the festival and Mentorship Program.

BoxFest Detroit produces festivals that grant women directors the opportunities to direct original shows of their choice and win awards to help further their careers in directing. The winning director of the festival-long audience vote competition is given the opportunity to direct a show with Planet Ant Theatre’s One Act Series. For the 2017 festival, BoxFest Detroit launched an additional opportunity: a Mentorship Program. The Mentorship Program grants at least two BFD 2018 directors the opportunity to shadow, learn, and collaborate with established, experienced, female-identifying directors. The program also gives emerging directors exposure to networking opportunities in the Metro-Detroit theatrical community.

The goals of the Mentorship Program are to connect BoxFest directors with the greater Metro Detroit professional theatrical community and other female-identifying directors working within it, support the education of female-identifying directors, remove challenges for BoxFest directors associated with the cost of education and travel, and remove challenges for professional theaters associated with artist salaries. The BoxFest Detroit 2018-19 Mentorship Associates are Frannie Shepherd-Bates, Sherrine Azab, Courtney Burkett, and Lynn Lammers. BoxFest Detroit’s 2018-19 Partner Theatres are Tipping Point Theatre, Detroit Public Theatre, Kickshaw Theatre, and A Host of People.

BoxFest Detroit has an additional big announcement: after 15 years, BFD has been approved for non-profit status. “In looking towards our future, and how we want to show up for our community, we decided that becoming a non-profit is the best way to tackle our next 15 years,” said Amanda Grace Ewing, BFD Artistic Director. “We’re now eligible for grants and our patrons can now make tax-deductible donations. We’re excited about this news and hope that our supporters will help us celebrate through the 2018 festival and our Indiegogo fundraising campaign.” Donations can be made at https://igg.me/at/bfd2018.

BoxFest Detroit 2018 will run Fridays and Saturdays, August 17 – 25 at Planet Ant Theatre, 2357 Caniff Ave, Hamtramck, MI, 48212. For more information, please visit www.boxfestdetroit.com.

Producers seek directors, playwrights, and actors for August 2018 festival

DETROIT, May 8, 2018 — The producers of BoxFest Detroit have announced performance dates for BoxFest Detroit 2018, an annual theater festival that showcases and creates opportunities for female-identifying directors. BoxFest Detroit 2018 will run Fridays and Saturdays, August 17 – 25 at Planet Ant Theatre, 2357 Caniff Ave, Hamtramck, MI, 48212. For more information, please visit www.boxfestdetroit.com.

BoxFest Detroit is an annual theater festival that showcases and creates opportunities for female-identifying directors. It has served and continues to function as a springboard for many women and their directing careers. Directors who have participated in past festivals have gone on to pursue graduate studies at highly competitive universities, become directors at professional theaters, and form their own successful theater and production companies. Proceeds from the event are given to one or more directors as through a mentorship program to help lesson the challenges for directors associated with the cost of education and travel. The winner of the audience vote competition is given the opportunity to direct a show with Planet Ant Theatre’s One-Act Series.

“After the launch of our mentorship program last year we’re looking forward to expand the opportunities we offer our directors,” said Artistic Director, Amanda Grace Ewing. “This year’s festival is our 15thanniversary, so we’re focusing on celebrating the great work of our female-identifying directors and giving them even greater visibility.”

The producing team for BoxFest Detroit 2018 includes Molly McMahon, Kelly Rossi, and Amanda Grace Ewing.

BoxFest Detroit is the only festival of its kind in the country and focuses solely on providing female-identifying directors opportunities to showcase their work and to gain necessary experience required for success in the field. The festival seeks directors of all skill levels to participate, and early career and established directors are invited to participate. The festival is also accepting submissions from playwrights and actors. Directors and playwrights must submit by June 1. Actors must submit to audition for directors. Auditions will be announced at a later date. More information about submissions and the festival is available at www.boxfestdetroit.com.

The ‘Cranky Critic’ Don Calamia and ‘A2 Arts Addict’ Jen McKee have been attending theatre in Southeast Michigan and reviewing shows in conversation with each other. Here are a few quotes from their review of “Kayak” at Matrix Theatre Company.

““Kayak” is the perfect show for such an intimate space as the 50-seat Matrix Theatre – and one of the smartest decisions director Amanda Grace Ewing made was the placement of the kayak, with its nose pushed into the seats. Since this is a memory play, with Annie talking directly to the audience about how she ended up in her predicament, the audience becomes part of the intimacy; we’re no longer passive listeners, but active participants who she’s directly speaking to. It’s like being part of a conversation at a party – only one of us is sitting in a Kayak. You can’t help but hang on her every word.” – Don Calamia

“Overall, I was really glad to be introduced to both Matrix (my first visit, believe it or not!) and to this play. Theater should be a place where human stories launch hard conversations, and I think Matrix’s team did a really solid job bringing Hall’s script to life.” – Jenn McKee

Read the full conversation here

Photo Credit Tiffany Gaidica
Photo Credit Tiffany Gaidica

Audience response forms have started to come in and the incredible Megan Buckley-Ball (Artistic Director of Matrix Theatre Company) has started creating these beautiful testimonial images with quotes from the feedback. We’re going into the second weekend now and I’m still so grateful for all of the artists that put their time and energy into exploring the many questions and conflicts raised when discussing climate change.

 

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We were also included in the bi-weekly segment “Theatre Talk” on NPR’s Stateside. They did a short synopsis of “Kayak” and hit on how extraordinary Kez Settle’s performance of Annie is! Click here to listen to the coverage.

Tonight is opening night for Kayak! We had a lovely preview last night, it was so good to have an audience there to breathe that last element into the show. Tonight we will officially open this production and set it out there for the world – I’m so excited!

On this production, in an effort to offer green alternatives, there are limited programs available at the theatre. You can read the whole program on Matrix’s website: https://www.matrixtheatre.org/kayak-digital-program

I’d also like to share my program note here. It’s been a wonderful journey and I feel so lucky to be surrounded by such incredible people.

I spend an inordinate amount of time wondering if small acts of everyday “activism,” being an active bystander, carrying a reusable water bottle, voting, buying local – really make a difference. If I’m not out there protesting full time, trying to influence popular understanding of an issue, can I really say that I practice activism? If I’m just, say, making art in a 50-seat theatre in Detroit, am I really doing the work? Does art count as activism? I sure hope so, because if it doesn’t, why are we all here? We have to use the skills we have, whether it’s community organizing or producing a play.

I first encountered Kayak in 2012, at that time Julie’s bravery and her sheer will to unapologetically pursue the things she cares about, struck a chord – one that encouraged me to ignore fear and take big risks. I have worked on this play for me, but also for my family, the cast, the creative team, and for you – the person who has come to take a risk with us tonight. I hope that we clear some of the path to the answers.

The events that happen in Kayak act as a reminder that we can’t be inactive. We can’t be paralyzed by the weight of the questions. It’s my hope that this play introduces new questions into your consciousness, that it influences your understanding of climate change, or presents questions about the connections between climate change and systemic oppression… or that it simply influences you to recycle your water bottles. Respond to those questions with the skills you have to make change around them. While I don’t think any of us will ever have definitive answers to any of these questions, we have to use the skills we have.

When I think about the priorities in my life that must come first, I think about family, about social justice, and about art. These aren’t neat priorities; sometimes I get to make art with my family – like on this show. (Shout out to my husband for the awesome babysitting of our goddaughter and his unending support!) Sometimes, I make social justice art for my family. Sometimes, these priorities feel so impossibly large that I feel like my personal morals and ethics are in question if I’m not able to clearly fulfill them. Most of the time I’m aiming for my art to be the way I practice social justice to make the world better for my family – and hope the product comes close.