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3 Girls fest showcases new plays for and by women

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Playwright AJ Baker of 3 Girls Theatre is working to bring women’s voices to the stage. (Courtesy 3 Girls Theatre)

There’s a difference between how men and women look at a story, declares playwright AJ Baker. She is cofounder and producing artistic director of San Francisco’s 3Girls Theatre, which determined, five years ago, to bring female voices to the stage.

This week, 3GT presents its fifth annual New Works Festival, an admission-free lineup of performances, readings, discussions and more at Thick House. The theme: “Women and the Body Politic in 2016.”

When only 12-18 percent of new plays on mainstream American stages each year are written by women — a statistic basically unchanged in the past century — the female perspective gets short shrift. So Baker and two other “girls,” playwrights Lee Brady and Suze Allen, founded 3GT to develop and produce plays only by women.

Since then, five more playwrights have joined the team; throughout the season the company offers several mainstage productions, plus readings and workshops.

A focal point for the festival is a multidisciplinary event on Aug. 24, emceed by feminist comedian Debi Durst. It includes a short play on voter’s rights by Brady and Allen; Baker’s onstage interview with Kimberly Ellis, executive director of Emerge California, which trains women to run for office; an all-female house band; and an improv troupe riffing on how to get more women onto the political stage.

Thursday, Aug. 25, offers a fully booked evening of 10-minute plays, in partnership with Repro Rights Theater, about, yes, women’s reproductive rights. Special guest is NARAL’s California director, Amy Everitt. (Come 30 minutes early for stand-by tickets).

Professional actors appear in staged readings of two plays in development by company members: Lee Brady’s comedy “Country Matters” (Aug. 22) and Robin Bradford’s drama “Slice” (Aug. 24).

On Aug. 26, Best of LezWrites (a 3Girls’ outreach program), co-curated by resident playwright Margery Kreitman and acclaimed local author Jewelle Gomez, comprises short, funny pieces about the LBT experience; performers include Tina D’Elia in an excerpt from her solo piece “Overlooked Latin@s” and comic treasure Marga Gomez.

Finally, in partnership with Hunters Point-Bayview Foundation Youth Services Project, teenagers from 3GT’s GirlWrights Dramatic Writing Workshop, led by Suze Allen, present original monologues on Aug. 28. For 3GT, GirlWrights represents a core mission: to “open doors to people who otherwise don’t get to have theater in their lives,” says Baker, “and particularly for young women who have so much to say.”

3GT is one of the few American theaters developing and producing plays exclusively by women. “We want to change the idea that the normal human voice is [necessarily] a man’s voice,” asserts Baker. “When you hear a woman’s perspective on stage as much as a man’s, then there’s no question: Women are equally important.”

3 Girls Theatre New Works Festival
Where: Thick House, 1695 18th St., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 22-26; 1 p.m. Aug. 27, 3 p.m. Aug. 28
Tickets: Free
Contact: 3girlstheatre.org/2016-new-works-festival

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