Nasty women are far from a hashtag of elections past — in fact, they’re planning to strike back, one minute at a time. That’s the premise for the upcoming sixth annual One-Minute Play Festival in conjunction with Boston Public Works and the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. The festival takes on the theme of “Nasty Women,” with two questions in mind: “Where have we been?” and “Where are we going?”
These questions also served as prompts for the 38 established and emerging playwrights who will participate in this year’s production. Each one-minute (or less) performance will be presented by 12 area directors who have cast and staged their work for the show.
The one requirement: Only women need apply.
“We wanted to amplify women-identified voices and show that women are engaged community members — which unfortunately isn’t something that gets precedence across the country all the time,” says associate producer Caitlin Wees, who is based with the organization in New York.
The Nasty Women Strike Back production is one of several women’s initiative festivals that Wees leads, with previous female-written and directed showcases popping up in Chicago, Minneapolis and D.C. The Boston shows, which open Jan. 2 at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, will be divided into two series — “Where have we been?” on Jan. 2-3, and “Where are we going?” on Jan. 4-5. The performances collectively make up nearly 80 individual plays, featuring 80 non-union actors of all genders, backgrounds and ages from the community. While the Nasty Women prompts have been used before, Wees says each community provides a unique insight into the area playwrights’ minds.
“We have a lot of fascinating themes popping up in Boston,” she explains. “There’s a lot surrounding the president-elect and the election, as an entity, of course. But there are also a lot of interesting things about the female identity, and the idea of the word ‘bitch,’ and misogyny, and how we speak and use our voices to be heard. There are all of these abstract ideas that tie into the experience of being a woman.”
The production comes together over the course of several months, with Wees and the rest of the team at One-Minute Play Festival going through submitted scripts and divvying them up between a team of local directors. There isn’t much workshopping in the way of play edits and rewrites for production purposes, as Wees emphasizes the importance for the organization to “honor all the work that’s been submitted.” Directors are responsible for the casting and production of each play, but work collaboratively with each writer to ensure the presentation is up to their expectations.
But how strict are the one-minute or less guidelines?
“Very strict,” says Wees. “That’s our biggest thing. We don’t want anything over a minute. We don’t want one voice to have more weight or importance than another. Everything is one minute so we have a web and a core sample of what’s happening in your community right now.”
If you go:
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Ave.