The Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival kicks off its fifth year this weekend, teaming up with the Parent Artist Advocacy League (PAAL) for the second International Mother Artist Day on August 2. PWTF is devoted to creating social change through uplifting the voices and diverse experiences of women throughout the Philadelphia area.
The Festival is dedicated to the varying cultures of Philadelphia, and the various performances are a love letter to the experiences and cultures of the women in the city. Many of the showcases are designed for families, as part of the mission of both PWTF and PAAL to uplift mothers and parents working in theater, and the performances feature songs, stories, and interactive play to engage and delight children of all ages and inspire a love of theater at an early age.
Being part of the experience is a powerful way to connect performers with their audience. “Interactive theatre creates a great balance of listening and participating. Kids stretch their legs, do hands-on activities and use their voices. Interactive theatre appeals to all learning styles, allows kids to be kids, and it’s fun,” says Christine Petrini, one of the festival’s co-founders, as well as the writer and performer of The Big Idea Committee.
Despite the focus on children’s and family theater, the festival promises an array of showcases that will appeal to adults. A variety of one-act plays celebrate Philadelphia past and present, and create a stunning exploration for the future of women in the arts in the city.
My picks below:
The Big Idea Committee
The audience gets to be part of the performance as young children learn about kindness, adventure, and innovation in a piece inspired by Petrini’s two-and-a-half-year-old daughter.
“Our senses come alive with the arts. As adults, we have moments of nostalgia when hearing music of our childhood. We can visualize where we were and who was with us in the moment. It’s powerful,” says Petrini, who promises a joyful experience for children and parents alike.
Margot & Mr. Fog
The titular Margot is a spunky little girl trying to help her father with a depressive episode while navigating her own challenges. Writer Ann Marley credits the theater with giving her the vocabulary and vulnerability to discuss mental health. She hopes to normalize the idea of both a child asking questions and learning to understand mental illness, as well as parents finding a recognizable figure in Mr. Fog and realizing that having depression is not an anathema to being a good parent.
An adult oriented piece set in the summer of 2017 during the big eclipse, Badlands explores the realities of being a librarian and de facto first responder during the city’s ongoing opioid crisis. The neighborhoods change, but human nature springs eternal. What do each of us owe each other?
The fifth year of the Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival opens This is OUR Philadelphia on Thursday, August 1, with a series of one act plays and runs more plays through August 4 at the Arden Theatre Company’s Hamilton Family Arts Center at 62 North 2nd Street. For a full schedule, tickets, and more, visit PWTF online.