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Female-centric festival coming to Clay

Jesse Hollett
Posted 3/1/17

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – A national art event designed to honor women’s history by imagining their future has landed in Clay County.

Clay County Playwright Elaine Smith, founder of the Clamour …

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Female-centric festival coming to Clay


GREEN COVE SPRINGS – A national art event designed to honor women’s history by imagining their future has landed in Clay County.

Clay County Playwright Elaine Smith, founder of the Clamour Theatre Company will host ‘The Future is Female Festival’ at Spring Park Coffee on March 16.

The coffee shop will be turned into a theatre as five separate playwrights feature five separate 10-minute plays acted out by area talent that feature some aspect of female history and how it impacts the future. March is female history month.

“These are brand new short plays that have never been seen before, and we are collecting local actors to come and read them to public audiences,” Smith said.

Roughly 140 women will participate nationally at 27 separate theatre companies in the United States and Canada. Some theatre companies will participate in complete productions, but because Clamour Theatre Company does not yet have a headquarters for the nonprofit, Smith chose the coffee shop as her site for the readings.

“I think it’s really important to highlight what women are capable of and all the things they are,” said Danielle Wirsansky, a contributing playwright in the event. “We need to show that women are accomplished and need to be celebrated, and I think in the political climate we’re in, it’s especially important.”

Wirsansky currently is majoring in modern European history at Florida State University. She takes her major with her in her play, as well.

“My piece is an imagined meeting of the two feminist suffragist leaders Millicent Garrett Fawcett and Emmeline Pankhurst arguing how best to win the right to vote for women in Britain,” Wirsansky said.

The two took far different approaches to the issue. Fawcett held pacifism as the answer while Pankhurst remained far more militant in her approach to equality.

Each play examines a different aspect of women’s role in society, and how society often times identifies that role for them. Events like these give women a forum to explore those themes through their art.

“There are so many roles that women feel like they have to obtain to have purpose in their life when really the main things that give them desire in their heart is to be an individual,” said Playwright Olivia Gowan. “Sometimes that gets lost because society tells us that have to fill certain roles at certain times in our lives and that pressure kind of pushes out our individual dreams.”

Gowan has produced several full-length plays in her time living in Los Angeles, including, “Roots in the Wind,” “The Donut Hole,” “A Christmas in the South,” and “Cotton Alley.”

Gowan said women remain severely underrepresented in playwriting in general.

“Men usually get the dominant voice,” Gowan said. “Only seven percent of playwrights are women, so this gives us a chance to be visual and present with other women and playwrights.”

In Clay County, theatre itself remains under represented. There’s no semi-professional link to bridge Clay County’s community theatres and its professional venue, the Thrasher-Horne Center for the Arts.

Smith currently has a campaign to change that. She is trying to garner enough support to purchase the Clay Theatre in Green Cove Springs, which currently sits unoccupied. She must raise $350,000 before that happens and there are other bidders looking into the property as well.

If she raises enough money to purchase the historic building, she hopes to turn it into not only a centralized location for her theatre company, but a centralized location for all of Clay County’s theatre enthusiasts.

Until then, she said she’ll keep hosting events at other venues until a more permanent solution comes.

To learn more about The Future is Female Festival, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/future-is-female-festival-tickets-31900116106. To learn more about the art event nationally, visit thefutureisfemalefestival.com.