"The festival was well-received. It was electric, magical," says Karen Moore of the first Women's Theatre Festival of Memphis back in 2012. "There were smiles on everybody's faces, everybody."
The biennial festival returns this week, bringing some 30 performances and workshops, plus the Gyneka Awards Gala to Playhouse on the Square, TheatreWorks, Circuit Playhouse, and Hattiloo Theatre.
This year's festival includes a comedy show and a children's play, Bad Guys, about bullying. Fiona Stewart will be bringing her Bijou's Secret, the story of three generations of women, all the way from Australia for its U.S. debut. LaRita Shelby will lead the workshop "Acting from the Stage to the Soundstage: The Difference Between Stage & Film Acting."
Moore notes that one workshop "The Business of Acting" is returning with an added component. Participants will get the chance to read in front of the panelists, which includes Courtney Oliver, Lisa Lax, and Erma Elzy-Jones. Moore pictures one of these aspiring actresses being noticed by one of the festival's participating directors or producers and being cast in their productions.
Thursday's Gyneka Awards Gala will honor six women and one man: Dorothy Gunther Pugh of Ballet Memphis; Julia "Cookie" Ewing, artistic director of Rhodes' McCoy Theatre; volunteer Patricia Bogan; playwright Celeste Bedford Walker; Broadway actress Naomi Moody; Debbie Litch of Theatre Memphis; and Pat Halloran of the Orpheum. The honorees and audience will be entertained by music from the festival's plays A Triumph of the Spirit, Bijou's Secret, and Camp Logan.
Says Moore of the festival, "We've got some good stuff."