Karen Kinch, founder of DramaQueen.

About five years ago, a couple of activist women sitting for a long time in a car chatted about their woman-supporting organizations (WomenArts and WITASWAN) and what else they could do to raise awareness and increase opportunities for women artists. An international celebration of women’s art, SWAN Day (‘Support Women Artists Now’ Day) was born. Their intention was to encourage celebrations around the world of any sort that anyone wanted to create in celebration of women’s artistic efforts, all on the last Saturday of March.

This year, Karen Kinch and her organization DramaQueen are going to participate by providing an evening of plays written by women at ACT Theatre’s lovely new Eulalie Scandiuzzi space, on Friday, March 30 and Saturday, March 31. Performances are at 7:00pm. Tickets are free, available through the ACT box office (206-292-7676).

Karen describes the evening and what you can expect to happen. “It’s a script in hand reading with stools and stands. We put a call for scripts out and received 29 scripts in a very tight window and went through a screening process to choose seven scripts for the evening. We just wanted women playwrights to submit just about anything and hoped to create a night of quality theater.”

The seven local playwrights are Caitlin Gilman, Rebecca Goldberg, Karen Kinch, Mara Lathrop, Babs Lindsay, Louise Penberthy, and Christine J. Schmidt.

Also, after the plays are read, there will be a talk-back on the subject of “women’s voice in theater and gender parity.” There is a national effort to increase production of women’s plays all over on main stage (LORT or what you’d consider ‘big budget’) theaters. Did you know that women playwrights account for only 17% of all the plays produced by the major national theaters every year?

That national effort is dubbed “50/50 by 2020 ” (50% main stage production participation by the year 2010). Karen says, “It started in New York with playwrights like Theresa Rebeck, who are questioning why it is that (plays written by) women are still hovering around 17% production rate across the board, which is what it was 100 years ago. Nothing has changed.”

The talk-back is “to bring awareness, the notion that there are women playwrights out there with stories to tell that need to be heard. Besides the talk-back, both nights we’re going to go to a nearby restaurant (anyone in the audience who wants to come) and party a little, too, and continue the dialogue started in the theater.”

Karen says, “I can see us deciding to do this again next year, to participate in the international SWAN Day celebration. I can also see DramaQueen doing many other programs in addition during the rest of the year.” And she encourages everyone, “It’s going to be a fun evening.”

Community SWAN Day in Seattle 2012