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WOW! What a year at Venus Theatre.

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We began by launching our 4 play season. Four women playwrights all new works/premieres. The whole year was just brimming with unbelievable talent. I wouldn’t change a thing. Honestly.

It all began with a Ding.

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This was a three hander and Jayme Kilburn’s re-entry into playwrighting after getting her Master’s in Women’s Studies at NYU. Jayme is the founder of the Strand Theatre in Baltimore and it was just so great to explore her work and then have her in the house. Ding had been truncated for a short showing so this was the first time the playwright saw her script in its entirety.

Next up was Light of Night! Also a three hander, this was a sexy thriller that had us in rehearsals with honey, fruit, and vid clips of Elizabeth Smart. This cast dove directly into the darkness that Cecilia Copeland penned without hesitation.

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Light of Night made it to the final Kilroy’s nomination list on the West Coast and is now PUBLISHED by Indie Theater Now in NYC. This had premiered in NYC with soap star and NYC theatre actor Florencia Lozano. So, it was a new opportunity for us to see how the script could hold water with a completely different artistic team and vision. This rolling world premiere concept got us excited because it has the potential to truly grow new works beyond the initial polish and shine. I wanted to explore the script the Venus way and show Cecilia all of the different places it could go. So, I did. We are now sisters for life and there’s no way I’ll be able to thank that cast enough.

Over the summer we launched a Butterfly Girl Camp. For five days we met and created. The girls painted their own stage, costumed and devised their own show. We spend mornings in nature, journaling by the river. It was delightful.

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Then we read Claudia Barnett’s play, Witches Vanish at the Kennedy Center Page-To-Stage festival to gear up for participation in the 2015 Women’s Voices Festival. Claudia has developed this script at 10 different locations with developmental programming from around the world. (so many opportunities to develop the plays so few opportunities to stage them full on) She’s taken the three witches of MacBeth and combined the crisis in Jaurez and other places around the globe over time and created puppet shows of them. It’s a Grimm’s Fairy Tale meets the Bard in a Dark Feminist underworld. At our reading we unexpectedly received a standing ovation. So, we look forward to world premiering the play as our 53rd at the Venus Theatre Play Shack in Sept 2015. As ever, it’s superfun to hang out with Claudia.

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Back to the Fierce 14: Crimes of Love, Life, and the Afterlife Season.

In August we cleared the space and took down a wall. We created five playing spaces for Daria Marinelli’s, We Are Samurai. This was a promenade environmental piece. 10636959_10204530482475338_1748554089726464500_o

We staged an alter in front of the theatre, a garden behind, an apartment in the floor, turned backstage into a kitchen, and used the actual stage as the void. This was a 3 1/2 hour play that ran at 1:15 because many things happened at the same time. It required a committed ensemble. And boy did we ever get them! If anyone says this younger 20-something generation is detached or lazy, please call me and let me tell you about this cast!

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Daria developed this script at Brown University under the guidance of Eric Ehn. We flung open the doors of Venus and invited all of the elements in like we meant it. That included but was not limited to: thunderstorms, heat waves, gas leaks, callback shouts from B Street, visitors wandering down from the Meat Market, boys throwing firecrackers, a car show with a lot of bands playing Journey covers, and a strange men on a bicycle who liked to chain smoke and talk on his cell phone during scenes. I will remain in awe of this cast for as long as I live. What an incredible experience.

Then, we wrapped the year with the most sexually forbidden play of the season, Virus Attacks Heart by Shannon Murdoch. A two-hander. Incredibly intimate. Shannon Murdoch flew herself in from Australia (and apparently experienced one Thursday for several days) to see the world premiere of her work. She too had seen it truncated but never in its full glory.

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It was poetic and dangerous, forbidden and so beautiful.

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So I write to you on the last day of this incredible year with a tremendous amount of gratitude. We closed out the year by giving Carolyn Gage a Lifetime Achievement Award and celebrate Venus Theatre producing 50 women-empowering scripts.

There are no words.

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Your contributions to Venus in terms of financial donations and attendance at our plays keeps me driving this vision which has now landed us among the longest running women’s theatre’s in the world. I am determined to never stage the same play twice. I believe deeply that there is an audience who wants to go on adventures with us. So, We will keep creating.

Once again, we have provided all of this with an annual operating budget of $30,000. So now, we are challenged to keep the work thriving and to also get our people paid something that starts coming close to a living wage. Sustainability is the name of the game for us. And if we sold 15 full price tickets to every performance, we would be completely self-sustaining.

An anonymous family foundation donor gifted Venus $10,000 to kick off 2015. I cannot express to you the lightness this brings. As I sit here and stare at the stack of plays I’ve yet to read. And check my desktop for the ones already read that seem like a match for the year ahead, I can’t help but feel like the most fortunate Artistic Director in the world.

Our audition announcements, fundraising drives, and season will follow in the New Year. But, I had to pause and say THANK YOU ALL!

Somewhere in all of that amazement, 2014 also brought us a Proclamation from the Mayor and the City of Laurel declaring the month of November Venus Theatre Appreciation Month.

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In the New Year, I look forward to getting much closer to offering a living wage to qualified people that run this company, I can’t wait to put more diverse women on stage, the plays submitted are just psychadelic journeys that mashup feminism with standard styles. It’s all SO amazing. I am so full of anticipatory elation at what will become of the House That Love Built.

Mostly, I extend my deepest gratitude to every artist and every audience member that ever laid a brick in the foundation.

Thank you so much for making the dream appear.

I’ll see you in 2015 in the House That Love Built!

Shows to run March, May, Sept, Nov. Camp in the summer and a possible December Holiday special! (I’d better get back to work).

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

deb.

Founder/Artistic Director

Venus Theatre

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