Women’s Work 2013

  • 07:00 PM
  • Center On Halsted Hoover-Leppen Theater • 3656 N Halsted St., CHICAGO

Pride Films and Plays Announces
12 Finalists in Women’s Work


womens-work-2013-01A Contest for Plays and Screenplays With Lesbian Themes or Characters
Written by Women

The work of six finalists will be performed during Women’s Work Weekend at Center on Halsted’s Hoover-Leppen Theatre September 13 to 15

Our 12 fantastic finalists are:

  • Fuse by Erin Blackwell
  • Home of the Black Swan by Maria Della Croce
  • Lesbian Zombie Killers by Robyn Jackson
  • The Portraitist by Fengar Gael
  • The Green Door by Gail Hackston
  • Sweetwater by Christina Hulen

  • The Fine Art of Leaving Footprints by H. Dawn Johnston
  • 180 Degree Rule by M.E.H. Lewis and Barbara Lhota
  • Let All Mortal Flesh by Pat Montley
  • Caenis and Poseidon by Bridgette Dutta Portman
  • Moon Dancers by Mary Steelsmith
  • Semi-Circle by Eileen Tull

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Of these dozen finalists, six will be presented as enhanced staged readings during the Women’s Work Festival, which runs September 13-15, 2013, at the Hoover-Leppen Theatre of Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted, Chicago, IL.

Tickets for each performance are $10 and can be purchased through brownpapertickets.com


This year’s festival will feature enhanced staged readings of the following:

  • Let All Mortal Flesh, a drama set in 1955 about the religious, maternal, and sexual betrayal of a young girl attempting to set her moral compass straight in an oppressive environment
  • Sweetwater, a romantic work that takes place during WWII about a small-town girl who forfeits familiarity to pursue her dream of joining the Women’s Airforce
  • The Green Door, a compelling work focused around a young woman on the brink of marriage who meets an unusual woman in the famous Gateways Club in London during the 1960′s
  • 180 Degree Rule, an intriguing period piece about a film professor in 1960 who searches for the missing masterpiece of an obscure lesbian director killed before the Second World War
  • Semi-Circle, a stylized short centering on two women who must confront a tragic love in the past, present, and future
  • Moon Dancers, a sweet short set in a church camp where two teenage girls meet in secret and try to answer the age-old question: “What would Jesus do?”

Here’s the complete schedule for the weekend:

  • Let All Mortal Flesh by Pat Montley: Friday, September 13 at 7:00 PM
  • Sweetwater by Christina Hulen: Saturday, September 14 at 2:30 PM
  • 180 Degree Rule by M.E.H. Lewis and Barbara Lhota: Saturday, September 14 at 7:00 PM
  • The Green Door by Gail Hackston: Sunday, September 15 at 1:00 PM
  • Semi-Circle by Eileen Tull: Sunday, September 15 at 3:30 PM
  • Moon Dancers by Mary Steelsmith: Sunday, September 15 at 3:30 PM

Let’s learn more about the scripts and their scribes:

FUSE, a play by Erin Blackwell

Fuse is a tragedy of reason and unreason, dominance and submission, privilege and despair. The frenzied murder of two bourgeois women by their maids, who are sisters and lovers, mirrors the implicit cruelty of respectable society’s benevolent institutions.

Erin Blackwell’s consciousness was raised by radical feminists in France. The San Francisco playwright and consulting astrologer is a rabid Agatha Christie fan.

HOME OF THE BLACK SWAN, a screenplay by Maria Della Croce

This is a love story about two young women coming out amid the pre-Ellen, pre-Rosie ’80s, when “lesbian” was scarcely heard in the sanitized plastic bubble of their Boston suburb. It’s also about the life-transforming journey of first love and how our mothers’ messages forge our self-esteem.

Maria Della Croce is an award-winning copywriter and director. She’s created advertisements for TV and the Web for hundreds of corporate clients in the last 15 years. (mariadellacroce.com)

THE PORTRAITIST, a play by Fengar Gael

Three generations of women explore the mystery at the heart of the creative process. Their story is told through the eyes of a precocious adolescent sent to live with an aunt, who has settled for a life of dreary isolation until she is commissioned to paint the portraits of a seductive mother and her daughter.

Fengar Gael just returned from The Landing Theatre of Houston’s reading of her play The Draper’s Eye, and she is working on a musical, Soul on Vinyl. (fengar.com)

THE GREEN DOOR, a screenplay by Gail Hackston

On the brink of marriage, Lina, a naïve and sheltered young woman, meets and starts an intense affair with Chris, an enigmatic tomboy, at the famous Gateways Club in 1960′s London. When Lina’s family forbids her to see Chris, Lina must make a life-changing choice.

Gail Hackston is a London-based filmmaker. She has had a number of short films produced and is developing The Green Door for her feature debut. (gailhackston.com)

SWEETWATER, a screenplay by Christina Hulen

This high-flying WWII romantic adventure follows a farm girl leaving the only life she’s ever known to pursue her dream of joining the elite Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), only to discover that dream threatened when she falls for a fellow recruit.

Christina Hulen is a writer, producer, and designer. She has written and directed two short films that have screened internationally.

LESBIAN ZOMBIE KILLERS, a screenplay by Robyn Jackson

A group of lesbians must fight for their lives when a politician tries to wipe out the gay population of her state by using zombies.

A screenwriter and novelist, Robyn Jackson’s animated film Magic of Love is currently in pre-production with Bryce Dallas Howard, Kathleen Turner, and John Goodman attached. She also has another film in development with Sundance-winning director Juan Carlos Valdivia attached. Her novel Gray was published last year by Purple Books Publishing.

THE FINE ART OF LEAVING FOOTPRINTS, a screenplay by H. Dawn Johnston

A lonely divorced woman falls for her quirky female friend and must contend with the repercussions on her friends, her disabled daughter, and her amorous ex-husband.

H. Dawn Johnston is a screenwriter and serial career changer who divides her time between Toronto and Prince Edward Island, Canada. Her scripts have placed in several competitions and she’s currently polishing a feature comedy.

180 DEGREE RULE, a play by M.E.H. Lewis and Barbara Lhota

A film professor in 1960 searches for the missing masterpiece of an obscure lesbian director killed pre-World War II. The lecturer speculates she was murdered because she defied movie studio heads by flaunting her sexuality with their “it” girl. But once the director’s former lover, an aging, reclusive German movie star, is involved, a more disturbing narrative unravels.

M.E.H. Lewis is an internationally-produced, critically-acclaimed playwright whose play Freshly Fallen Snow premiered this season at Chicago Dramatists. Next up is Burying the Bones at In Tandem Theatre in Milwaukee.

Barbara Lhota’s upcoming work includes Warped, running August 31-October 6 with Stage Left at Theatre Wit, and a workshop of Echo with Circle Theatre in August. (barbaralhota.com)

LET ALL MORTAL FLESH, a play by Pat Montley

It’s 1955. Christina Gallagher’s parochial school education, stern confessor, and runaway adulterous mother make her distrust her body and pursue spiritual perfection. But her moral code is challenged when she realizes the next door neighbors-her adored teacher and the family doctor-are lesbians. Meanwhile, the couple battles their own demons of fear and guilt.

Pat Montley, Dramatist Guild member, has had 14 plays published (Samuel French, Playscripts, Inc., Meriwether, Heinemann, Applause, Dramatic Publishing, Prentice-Hall, ICWP Dramatics Magazine) and over 200 productions.

CAENIS AND POSEIDON, a play by Bridgette Dutta Portman

Written in blank verse and styled after classical Greek drama, Caenis and Poseidon is the story of a young woman who longs to be a man. When her wish is fulfilled, she-now he-must struggle to keep his former identity a secret in a world that does not look kindly on those who cross gender boundaries.

Bridgette Dutta Portman is a playwright from San Jose, California. Her plays have been read and produced in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as Washington DC, Oregon, Nebraska, and most recently the UK. (bridgetteduttaportman.com)

MOON DANCERS, a play by Mary Steelsmith

Bette and Ronnie’s plan to ditch church camp to meet secretly is in jeopardy after they are forced into separate cabins for the first time. Ronnie’s fear of losing her precious love blossoms into hostility toward Bette. Should they still dance to the moon tonight?

Mary Steelsmith is an internationally-produced wordsmith and the only woman awarded the Helford Prize, which she received for her play Isaac, I Am. (marysteelsmith.com)

SEMI-CIRCLE, a play by Eileen Tull

Two young women meet at the edge of Lake Michigan and it’s all like a dream. They’re falling in love and things are falling into place right before it all falls apart and everything breaks again.

Eileen Tull is a solo performer, writer, and former Chicagoan currently based in Cincinnati. Her plays have also been produced in New York City, San Francisco, Boca Raton, and Philadelphia. (eileentull.com)

Now we’d like to introduce this year’s script readers.

Allison Fradkin, Literary Coordinator for Women’s Work, assembled a reading team of 15 theatre and film professionals who served as adjudicators for the contest. This year’s judges were:
Lindsay A. Bartlett, Artistic Director of 20% Theatre Company Chicago (twentypercentchicago.com)
Pat Branch, screenwriter of Girls Out Loud, winner of Best Screenplay in Pride Films & Plays’ Women’s Work Contest, 2011
Marjorie Conn, writer + performance artist (connartists.org)
Julia Dyer, director + producer of Late Bloomers
Carolyn Gage, playwright + performer + activist (carolyngage.weebly.com)
Paula Goldberg, screenwriter of Out at the Wedding
Aimee Herman, writer + performance artist (aimeeherman.wordpress.com)
Barbara Kahn, playwright + director (www.barbara-kahn.com)
Corinne J. Kawecki, playwright of Short Expanse, finalist in Pride Films & Plays’ Great Gay Play Contest, 2011
Gwen La Roka, comedienne (gwenlaroka.com)
Patricia Loughrey, playwright (patricialoughrey.com)
Beth Richards, writer + performance artist
Lindsay Snider, playwright
KS Stevens, playwright + producer (ksstevens.com)
Karen White, director of Leaping Thespians Theatre Group (leapingthespians.ca)


About Pride Films and Plays

pride-logo-185pxPride Films and Plays fosters excellence in writing for the stage and screen with LGBT themes by linking an international network of writers to our Artistic Ensemble in Chicago and professionals working in the field internationally.

Using stories with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender characters or themes, Pride Films and Plays develops human stories that speak for the community and are essential viewing for all audiences.

Our contests – the Great Gay Play Contest, Women’s Work (for works by women with lesbian characters or themes), and the Great Gay Screenplay Contest – reach their conclusion during Festival Weekends of readings and workshops sponsored by Center on Halsted. Writers from around the world have worked with PFP’s Artistic Ensemble in extensive rehearsals and performances of “enhanced staged readings” which include movement, blocking, and technical elements.

PFP’s fully staged productions include reinvigorated classics, Chicago premieres, and world premieres of scripts that have been developed in the contests. The 2011 Great Gay Play Contest winner, Learn To Be Latina by Enrique Ureata, has had multiple regional productions, and the 2012 winner At The Flash by Sean Chandler and David Leeper was Jeff-recommended in Chicago and recently concluded a successful run in Los Angeles. Under A Rainbow Flag by Leo Schwartz, a finalist in last year’s contest, had its premiere this spring and won the Jeff Award for Best New Work and Best Musical Production. The 2013 winner, Directions for Restoring the Apparently Dead, will have its world premiere in Chicago on October 6.

Entries to the 2014 Great Gay Play Contest will be accepted September 1 through October 31. The five finalists each receive a $400 cash prize, plus the staged reading of their work in spring 2014.


About Center on Halsted

Center on HalstedCenter on Halsted is the most comprehensive lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community center in the Midwest, and strives to meet the social, recreational, and cultural needs of people of all ages in a safe and nurturing environment. Every day, more than 1,500 people walk through the doors of this 60,000-square foot building, which includes a gym, theatre, computer lab, two art galleries, and a rooftop garden. It offers a variety of social services and public programs, including mental health services, support groups, and free HIV testing seven days a week. centeronhalsted.org, 773.472.6469.