Philipstown Depot to host play and film festival
Can’t decide between a play or a movie? Handily, you don’t have to at Glass Ceiling Breakers 3, which combines an all-female-identifying play festival with an all-female-identifying film festival over three days (June 16 to 18). The schedule includes nine 10-minute plays and 31 short films.
The festival is being produced by Gabrielle Fox and Nora Matz, a Garrison resident, through the production company Theatre Revolutions. Most of the screenings and productions, along with panels and talk-back sessions, will take place at the Philipstown Depot Theatre on Garrison’s Landing.
“Women artists are underrepresented at every level of the entertainment industry and while there has been progress, we need more,” says Fox, who is the artistic director of Theatre Revolutions. “When Nora and I started speaking about bringing Glass Ceiling Breakers back to audiences, we decided to go bigger and bolder by adding films.” (The first two festivals included only plays.)
The 2023 festival begins on June 16 with nine short plays, followed by a Q&A.
They were chosen from more than 100 submissions, Matz says. The primary consideration was quality. “Beyond that, we asked ourselves: ‘Are we representing enough topics, enough voices, so they’re not all one note? Is it going to be a fun or provocative play to watch live?’ We tried to avoid being too heavy-handed. We wanted levity, so you don’t come out of there hit in the gut.”
As a result, the plays aren’t “all one note, they are all over the map. They include many relating to personal things that are not put onstage all that often.”
The playwrights chosen include Kristin Battersby of Beacon, who is also directing her play and Sharon Cooper of New York City, who has roots in Garrison and two films in the festival as well. Jenny McGuire of Beacon is among the actors.
Each screening of films will be followed by a discussion. The closing reception will take place at the Garrison Art Center, which happens to have female-centric art on display that weekend.
Film submissions had to be less than 20 minutes long, with at least three women on the production team. This inaugural year includes films from creators in the U.S., Israel, France, Belgium, Canada, Ireland and Serbia. They are “comedic and dramatic and cover a variety of topics including equality, cloning, cultural divides, breaking glass ceilings and family relationships,” Matz says. As for genres, “they are all over the place: horror, sci-fi, relationships.”
The idea to expand the festival to include film came during the pandemic lockdown. “There wasn’t much we could do in person, so we thought perhaps we should try to make our short plays into short films,” Matz explains. “There are so many talented women out there who are not given platforms or opportunities. We want to elevate women’s voices, particularly in the film industry. Short plays and short films felt like a great combination.”
Fox and Matz developed a friendship through Westchester County theater circles. “We have mutual friends, did readings together,” Matz says. “We talked about how so much theater is from the male perspective.”
When developing the festivals, “gendering” was front and center. Fox and Matz decided that in the nascent stages of what are hoped to be long-term projects, they would focus on women.
“We’re a small organization,” Matz says. “We can’t be one of those groups that’s everything to everyone. We include female-identifying and nonbinary people and when we chose our plays, we encouraged our directors to consider nonbinary and gender-nonconforming actors. We reached out to all boroughs, as well as to Peekskill, Newburgh and Beacon.
“Although our festival is labeled as a ‘women’s festival,’ that does not mean that it excludes other marginalized groups,” she adds. “Because we are a production team of marginalized voices, we focused our efforts on including all voices.”
On June 17, there will be a panel discussion, Women in the Business, with Annetta Marion and Sol Miranda. Marion is an Emmy-nominated director and showrunner who recently produced Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie. Miranda, a native of Puerto Rico, played Donna Maria Nuñez on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Beatriz on Archive 81 and recently presented This is Peekskill a Friendly Town, based on interviews with Latino residents of Peekskill, at MOCA there.
The Philipstown Depot Theatre is located at 10 Garrison’s Landing. Tickets are $25 for each grouping of plays; $20 for each film block; and $10 for the Women in Business panel. Day passes are available for $60 on June 17 and $40 on June 18, or an all-access pass is $80. See philipstowndepottheatre.org.
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