Celebrating Women Playwrights With Glass Ceiling Breakers Festival

Axial Theatre presents one of Westchester’s first all-women playwright festivals this March.

The “glass ceiling,” while invisible, is entirely tangible. Yet, while defined as an “unbreachable barrier,” it’s apparent that more and more women shatter it every day. 

Pleasantville’s Axial Theatre will be celebrating those women with their all-female playwright festival, Glass Ceiling Breakers, presented on two consecutive weekends: March 24 to 26 and March 31 to April 2. The festival, coinciding with Women’s History Month, is believed to be the first of its kind in Westchester and will feature a diverse selection of comedies and dramas written and directed by women.

“We liked what the name [Glass Ceiling Breakers] said about women, without directly saying ‘This is a women’s festival,’” explains Gabrielle Fox, the festival’s curator and playwright instructor at Axial. “We sort of wanted to brag that Axial has been producing women and having women’s playwrights for a while.”

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The festival’s impetus follows in the same vein as the Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival or the Kilroy List: it’s a means of drawing “attention to the level of talent and the variety of voices of women theatre artists,” explains Fox. While scripts written or directed by women are in no way a new concept, representation of the fact can be scarce.

“You would think in this industry that women would be better represented, but it’s starting,” says Fox.

Tensions run high in the survival bunker in the political comedy The Second Coming by Gabrielle Fox, one of seven plays at Axial Theatre’s upcoming Glass Ceiling Breakers showcasing women playwrights and directors

This is Axial Theatre’s first attempt at such an event, but Fox is hopeful there will be more to come. “I love that it’s in Westchester,” she says. “It’s nice to see your home recognize something you’re passionate about.”

Glass Ceiling Breakers will spotlight seven one-act plays, with many of the playwrights having presented their work in other renowned venues, including Half Moon Theater, Woodstock Women’s Fest, and Portland Fringe Festival. Fox, who read through each script as part of the festival’s selection process, has high anticipations for each of the productions to come alive on stage.

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“It’s completely different reading a play and watching it on stage,” says Fox. “Edward Albee described a [script] as a literary piece you can read, but when it gets on the stage it’s three dimensional, and then you add an audience and that just breathes further life into it. It’s such an interesting, fun experience. It’s exciting.”

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