An Appreciation of The Groundswell Festival

by Lynn on November 27, 2020

in The Passionate Playgoer

Free Livestreaming until Nov. 30.

Produced by Nightwood Theatre.

Because The Groundswell Festival is a festival of new writing from established feminist writers I will only comment in general terms and not formally review them. All the readings deserve your attention to hear new voices in the theatre.

It was a festival of play readings, conversations, panels, etc. It ran from Nov. 10-20 and was available for free streaming until November 30.

I’ll be talking about the plays.

Refusal by Shelley M. Hobbs is about a war correspondent  overwhelmed by a career she both loves and hates. She is white and is in a war-torn country of people who are not white.  It’s about class, racial politics and seeking the truth.

Better by Rachel Mutombo is a sort of futuristic look at men tightening their reins of their control on society. Women who step out of line are sent to a sanctuary for misguided souls by their husbands, brothers or fathers. How do the women cope in such a situation is what occupies the play.

All my forgotten dreams by Erum Khan shifts between characters wrestling with isolation, silence and restlessness in the wake of a new world.

Death of Father  by Phoebe Tsang(only Act I was read). The ambitious mayor of a small coastal town sacrifices the safety and reputation of his teenage daughter for his political campaign.

And The Bridgeby Pesch Nepoose is about a young Indigenous woman who grapples with loss, love, longing and loneliness. It is a meditation on suicide and memory. Not light stuff, and certainly substantial.

There certainly is a mix of serious work as created by these gifted young playwrights. I was mighty impressed with the different voices and frames of reference. Certainly race, class, appropriation and misogyny factor. The plays reflected our world and society.

I thought The Bridge by Pesch Nepoose was a fearless play—unflinching in showing an Indigenous woman spiraling down in her life. The writing is so vivid and even poetic that you can’t say “I’ve heard this story before.” Pesch Nepoose prevents anyone from saying it because it’s a story of a woman alone, without support to guide her. If there is a word to describe the world of this play that word is “brutal.” You don’t look away. The play did stay with me a long time.  

All the playwrights have a vivid imagination and beautifully created the worlds of their characters.

I thought Death of Father by Phoebe Tsang was particularly impressive because Tsang was giving a modern twist on the dysfunctional family; and an unscrupulous father willing to do anything for success, including sacrificing his daughter. Tsang is putting a modern twist on the Greek myth of Iphigenia, the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra.

I loved how the play was described in the press information: “The ambitious mayor of a small coastal town sacrifices the safety and reputation of his teenage daughter for his political campaign.” Nothing about Greek drama is mentioned but those of us who had to study the Greeks know.  Very clever. The acting in all cases was terrific.  The voices of these playwrights are strong and I look forward to seeing the finished plays.

For details on the Groundswell Festival go to:

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