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Female playwrights showcased in festival

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published February 4, 2015

 Ryan Ernst and Alexis Mabry perform with Shakespeare in Detroit.

Ryan Ernst and Alexis Mabry perform with Shakespeare in Detroit.

WEST BLOOMFIELD — Two Muses Theatre of West Bloomfield will draw back the curtain for the Women’s Playwriting Festival 8 p.m. Feb. 20 and 21, and 2 p.m. Feb. 22.

Proceeds will benefit Two Muses Theatre, a nonprofit, professional theater dedicated to increasing opportunities for female artists and artisans.

Each festival performance will feature 15 short plays — about 10-15 minutes long — written by women across the country. While some of the plays have been performed at other festivals and won awards, new plays will be showcased also, said Diane Hill, executive director and co-founder of Two Muses Theatre.

Keeping with Two Muses’s dedication to provide opportunities for women in the theater, the plays are directed by women.

“It’s just so perfect for our mission statement,” Hill said. “I believe it will bring a new audience to our theaters. … Our audience will see a lot of new, cutting-edge theater.”

While all of the directors are local, four of the plays were written by Michiganders, including Paige Vanzo, of Auburn Hills; Sarah McEneaney, of Rochester; Maureen Paraventi, of Detroit; and Lori Eaton, of Birmingham.

More than 80 plays were submitted to project director Emilio Rodriguez, and after he recruited female directors, the directors picked one or two plays they wanted to direct.

Rodriguez is known for producing the Ann Arbor Civic Theater Festival and the Detroit Fringe Festival. This is the first time, he said, that he’s produced a festival geared toward female playwrights and directors.

The festival, Rodriguez said, is an opportunity for “female voices to be heard” and show that there are a “plethora of female writers across the country.” From comedy to drama, the Women’s Playwriting Festival will appeal to the entire audience, organizers say. 

A previously produced play titled “Bless You,” by Paige Vanzo — which won the 2013 BoxFest and 2014 Detroit Fringe Festival — will be showcased, as well as “Bedtime Story for the Precocious Child,” by Sharon Goldner. “Bedtime” is about a couple trying to get their daughter to go to bed. But like many children, she refuses to go to bed and tries to buy herself more time, which includes threatening a lawsuit. 

“It’s a great chance to see the kind of plays that don’t always get produced,” Rodriguez said.

Two Muses Theatre is located inside Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 6800 Orchard Lake Road in West Bloomfield. Tickets are $10 at the door one hour prior to each performance. A festival pass, which includes entry to all three performances, is available for $15 online at as showrooms for online retailers.”

By allowing the state to collect sales tax for purchases made through online retailers with a nexus, it is estimated that the legislation will bring in an additional $60 million in fiscal year 2016, according to a press release.

“This is history-making legislation and a great victory for the home team,” Michigan Retailers Association President and CEO James P. Hallan said in a press release.

A representative from the Michigan Retailers Association could not be reached for additional comment.

Tommy Gerjekian, owner of Triple Crown Watch and Clock Repair in Troy,  said not having this legislation gives online retailers a 6 percent advantage over local, brick-and-mortar businesses.

For years, Gerjekian said, customers would come into the store to try on a watch and then order the watch online from another retailer — sometimes even ordering on their smartphone while in the store. People would even bring a watch purchased online into his store to be resized, he said.

“I have to charge the Michigan state sales tax. Now it puts us on a level playing ground, on an even playing field,” Gerjekian said. “The only thing (consumers) might save now is free shipping.” 

Gerjekian, like many local retailers, has been waiting for this legislation for years, and he said that when he heard about the Main Street Fairness Act, he was “quite happy.”

“Hopefully, it will help us in the future,” Gerjekian said.