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.

DETROIT – BoxFest Detroit, an annual theatre festival that showcases and creates opportunities for women directors, has announced the winners of its 2017 festival. BoxFest Detroit 2017 ran Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons and evenings, August 18 – 26, at Planet Ant Theatre.

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. This year’s Planet Ant Theatre’s One Act Series winner is Charity Clark-Anderson. Charity Clark-Anderson is a graduate of Wayne State University and was employed as a social worker for the State of Michigan for over 30 years. Her retirement in 2010 gave her the opportunity to pursue theatre full-time. Clark-Anderson wrote and directed “Legacy” for this year’s festival.

For the 2017 festival, BoxFest Detroit launched an additional opportunity: a new Mentorship Program. In this inaugural year, there were two mentorship opportunities available: Assistant Directing for Frannie Shepherd-Bates, and the Tipping Point Theatre Sandbox Directorship. These positions grant two BFD 2017 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 2017 Mentorship Recipients were Bridgette Jordan and Sarah Hawkins Moan. Bridgette Jordan currently attends Wayne State University and is pursuing her Master’s in English. She was awarded an Assistant Directorship to work with Frannie Shepherd-Bates on Tipping Point Theatre’s production of “The Impossibility of Now.” Sarah Hawkins Moan has been working as an actress, director, and educator across the country for the last ten years. She received the Tipping Point Theatre Sandbox Play Festival Directorship.

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 theatres associated with artist salaries.

The BoxFest Detroit 2017-18 Mentorship Associate is Frannie Shepherd-Bates and BoxFest Detroit’s 2017-18 Partner Theatre is Tipping Point Theatre.

BoxFest Detroit had an additional big announcement at their awards ceremony this year: Amanda Grace Ewing will replace Molly McMahon as Artistic Director. McMahon will continue to remain involved as a member of the producing team and also assist with the transition to ensure Ewing’s success in her new role. “Since pursuing graduate studies at University of Michigan’s School of Social Work, my capacity for outside work has changed dramatically,” said McMahon. “Serving as Artistic Director for BoxFest Detroit for eight festivals has been one of the great honors of my life. I look forward to staying on the BoxFest Detroit team as a producer and to continue working with Amanda Grace Ewing and Kelly Rossi on future festivals.”

“I am thrilled to be taking a larger leadership role with BoxFest Detroit,” Ewing said. “As an alumna of the festival, Molly gave me my first opportunity to direct – so I know hers are big shoes to fill. I’m looking forward to continuing the work she started and expanding our new programs to give our directors even greater visibility.”

For 14 years and counting, BoxFest Detroit has produced annual summer theater festivals, which creates the space and support for women directors of all experience levels to share their work with audiences. Learn more about BoxFest Detroit and its programs at www.boxfestdetroit.com.

Recently, the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA) asked me to write a regional spotlight on what I see happening in Michigan theatre. My short article is below. Enjoy!

Regional Spotlight: Midwest – Michigan
Spot Op: Amanda Grace Ewing

“I keep a variety of quotes from this year’s LMDA Conference on my phone, which I revisit when I’m feeling stuck or need some motivation. In the past couple of months, I’ve begun to look for a note as I scroll: “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Affliction: trouble, burden, distress, oppress. Comfort: console, solace, support, uplift. Both of these verbs suggest a physical act of resistance and remind me that bodies carry text. As the national conversation around equity and diversity becomes more robust, theatre companies in my region, Southeastern Michigan, are more purposefully considering the dramaturgy of bodies: who gets to tell what stories and how? Who is afflicted and who is comfortable?

My artistic home is BoxFest Detroit (BFD), an annual one-act theatre festival that showcases local female-identifying directors. BFD has, and continues to, function as a springboard for local women and their directing careers. This year, when the organizers met to plan the festival, we began with strategizing how to leverage our visibility as an organization in order to serve more directors. In response to this challenge, we launched a new mentorship program. In this inaugural year, there were two mentorship opportunities available: Assistant Directing for Frannie Shepherd-Bates and the Tipping Point Theatre Sandbox Directorship. The first award granted a director a stipend and the opportunity to shadow, learn, and collaborate with a regional, experienced, female-identifying director at an Equity theatre; and the later award granted a director a stipend and the opportunity to direct a one-act play at an Equity theatre house. Our goals for this program are to: connect BFD directors with the greater Metro Detroit professional theatrical community, support the education of female directors, connect BFD directors with other female directors working in the community, remove challenges for BFD directors and professional theaters associated with the cost of education, travel, and artist salaries. While we are still in our pilot year – we’re excited to see how this program will affect hiring and visibility of female-identifying directors in Michigan.

Another Southeastern Michigan theatre company looking to create opportunities for marginalized communities is Black and Brown Theatre (BandB). BandB was founded in the summer of 2016 to address the inequity of casting in Michigan theatre. Like many other regions, white artists dominate Michigan theatre, and when considering casting, white is synonymous with neutral. Despite the Detroit area’s diverse population, oftentimes actors of color are only considered in casting when the script breakdown specifically calls for a certain race. Since their founding, BandB has worked to interrupt this narrative by presenting staged readings, showcases, productions, outreach, and education for and with communities of color – each action driving BandB towards the goal of becoming extinct in the next five to ten years. One valuable act of BandB is a humble Google Drive of headshots and resumes of actors of color, that casting directors can ask for access to. Currently, the database is viewable by 64 directors and has the information for 84 actors of color. This simple task has completely negated any claim of, I don’t know any actors of color, I can’t find anyone for this role, etc., and generated access for actors and casting directors to each other.

I’m excited that BFD and BandB are challenging narratives around who is in the room doing the work, that there are more companies in our region asking questions about access and equity, and that theatres and artists are using the resources that companies like BoxFest Detroit and Black and Brown Theatre provide. I hope that as all of us connect with each other we can be a force to afflict those comfortable in the white narrative, and comfort those looking to see themselves in the texts we present.”

 

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Nyjae Maria in “Valerie: A Cosplay Monologue” written by Asher Wyndham, directed by Amanda Grace Ewing. Photo courtesy of Kelly Rossi. (BoxFest Detroit 2017)

 

I’m really excited to announce that this year I will be directing at BoxFest Detroit! After taking a few years off to serve primarily as a producer of the festival, this year I am happy that I will be able to do both.

This year I’m working on a one-act called, “Valerie: A Cosplay Monologue”. I’m thrilled to be working with this play that challenges the culture of sexual assault at comic cons through the voice of a single female character. I start rehearsals soon and I’m really looking forward to playing with the comic book style of this play. As an educator, I’m also really passionate about sharing this information on rape culture.