Female empowerment drives ASU MainStage's latest theatrical season

August 31, 2015

When the ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre set out to finalize its 2015-2016 MainStage season, the idea of female empowerment was at the forefront of the discussion.

And why wouldn’t it be? It’s no secret that gender diversity issues have plagued Hollywood and Broadway for years. The most recent Hollywood Diversity Report showed that only one in eight film directors is a woman. And earlier this month an article in The Guardian lamented Broadway’s continued lack of plays and musicals penned by women. MainStage Logo The MainStage 2015-2016 season logo reflects its content and diversity. Download Full Image

It’s not much better in the Phoenix metro area where some theater companies will not feature a single production written by a woman in their 2015-2016 seasons, as local theatre critic Robrt Pela noted earlier this year.

With these issues in mind, the ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre decided to take action by programming a theater season featuring a majority of female playwrights. 

“There’s been a good deal of discussion about the miserably low number of plays by women getting produced in major U.S. theatres, as well as the dearth of women’s stories on stages and screens,” said Lance Gharavi, assistant director of theater in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre and artistic director of the MainStage theater season. “At the recent 2015 Oscars, all of the films nominated for best picture were stories about men, and all of the nominees for best original and best adapted screenplay were men.

“That will not do.”

Five of the seven theater productions in the upcoming MainStage season tell stories that focus on female characters, and the majority of plays were written by women.

“This is nothing to be smug about. This shouldn’t be the exception. It should be the rule. It should be the it-goes-without-saying normal,” Gharavi said. “But sometimes leading, sometimes innovating, can just mean doing the obvious.”

The MainStage theater season isn’t just about celebrating women. It will also focus on American culture. There are two productions for children. There’s even a world premiere of a play by one of the school’s MFA students. But the common thread is celebrating the work of female artists.

With that, here is the complete MainStage theater lineup. Find more information or purchase tickets here.

“A Streetcar Named Desire”
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16-17, 22-23, 24; 2 p.m. Oct. 18, 25
Where: Lyceum Theatre
Directed by Wyatt Kent
Written by Tennessee Williams

This classic of American theatre and cinema follows the fragile and refined Blanche DuBois, who has fled to her sister’s New Orleans apartment to escape financial ruin. There she is confronted by her own past and fresh calamity in this Southern Gothic tale of lust, lies, brutality and madness.

“Dry Land”
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30-31, Nov. 1, Nov. 6-8.
Where: Studio 133
Directed by William Partlan
Written by Ruby Rae Spiegel

The creation of up-and-coming playwright Ruby Rae Spiegel, “Dry Land” tells the story of two high school swimmers, Amy and Ester, who are drawn together by the need to secretly terminate Amy’s unwanted pregnancy. An intimate and searing portrait of teenage friendship and desperation set in a girls’ locker room. Mature content.

“Brooklyn Bridge”
When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13-14, 19-20, 21; 2 p.m. Nov. 15, 22; 11 a.m. Nov. 20 (student matinee)
Where: Paul V. Galvin Playhouse
Directed by Ricky Araiza
Written by Melissa James Gibson

Meet Sasha, a 10-year-old with an impending essay deadline, absent parents and no pen. In her quest for a writing utensil and for company, she wanders through her apartment building, where she meets a variety of colorful tenants, who tell her stories about the Brooklyn Bridge and help her to confront her fears. Appropriate for families and young audiences.

“Lasso of Truth”
When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12-13, 18-19, 20; 2 p.m. Feb. 14, 21
Where: Lyceum Theatre
Directed by Pamela Fields
Written by Carson Kreitzer

Bondage, Gloria Steinem and lie-detector tests all figure into this racy tale about Wonder Woman’s origins and the lasting effects of her legacy. This is a story about the nature of comic books, truth and love. Mature content.

“The America Play”
When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 19-21, Feb. 26-28
Where: Studio 133
Directed by Nia Witherspoon
Written by Suzan-Lori Parks

In this contemporary classic of the American theater written by a Pulitzer Prize winner, a character called the Foundling Father who bears a striking resemblance to Abraham Lincoln runs an attraction that allows passersby to  re-enact the president's assassination for the cost of a coin. This production will mark the 10th anniversary of the School of Film, Dance and Theatre’s Theatre & Performance of the Americas program.

“She Kills Monsters”
When: 7:30 p.m. March 25-26, 31, April 1-2; 2 p.m. March 26, April 3
Where: Paul V. Galvin Playhouse
Directed by Lance Gharavi
Written by Qui Nguyen

To rediscover the younger sister she lost to a tragic car accident, Agnes must embark on a quest into deepest, darkest geekdom in this action-packed, ’90s-themed romp through the fantasy world of Dungeons & Dragons. The line between fantasy and reality blurs as Agnes battles her own demons and learns to embrace the unordinary. Appropriate for families and young audiences.

“on display”
Where: 7:30 p.m. April 15-16, 20-21, 23; 2 p.m. April 17, 24.
Where: Lyceum Theatre
Directed by Phil Weaver-Stoesz
Written by John Perovich

Jack, a shut-in artist who lives on the Lower East Side, is faced with tough choices when his mother unexpectedly passes. Mary is determined to get his work into a gallery with the help of a curator, but their innocent partnership develops into a dangerous dance of exploitation. Splatter paintings are a grisly metaphor in this play about art, abuse and revealing the unseen in this world premiere by ASU MFA playwright John Perovich.

Communications Program Coordinator, ASU Art Museum


Online game from ASU pairs high schoolers with majors

August 31, 2015

Arizona State University has developed a new way for high school students to prepare for college — by playing an online game.

The game comes courtesy of me3, an app and online experience that pairs users with college majors and insight on how to get into college. The me3 career test uses preferences in picture choice to guide recommendations. The me3 tool creates college recommendations based on photo preferences from pairs of images. It also gives guidance on college majors and the high school classes necessary to get there. Photo by: Charlie Leight/ASU News Download Full Image

The me3 experiences starts with a quick game. The app shows pairs of images — a movie set and a microbiology lab, stocks charts and an operating room, etc. — and asks the student to select the one in each set that most appeals to his or her interests. Once the game is over, the me3 program recommends several career paths for the student and the most applicable college majors.

It’s a unique way to get teenagers thinking about their futures, but me3 also charts an academic pathway toward a college education by recommending high school classes to take in preparation, tracking academic progress and ensuring a student knows what requirements are needed for admission into college.

After playing the game at ASU Preparatory Academy in Phoenix, Frankie Quiñones got a recommendation for a career in engineering. The high school junior credits me3 with changing how he approaches his preparation for college and an eventual career.

“It made me think of different ways to get to college,” Quiñones said. 

The me3 program aims to broaden the number of college-ready students by helping more high school students prepare for college academically. This is especially important for students who would be the first in their family to attend college.

“me3 provides students with insight about themselves that links them to career choices they might not consider otherwise,” said Jennifer Anderson, the department chair of student advising at Westwood High School in Mesa. “me3 is an immense tool for post-secondary readiness.”

By engaging students in a discussion about college early in their high school careers, me3 ensures they are taking the right courses and ready for college. It guides students to classes that comply with the minimum requirements for college admission as specified by the Arizona Board of Regents, making it an important tool to expand access to higher education in Arizona.

Frederick C. Corey, vice provost for undergraduate education at ASU, explains that expanding access to higher education is imperative for Arizona’s economic health.

“Education is a community responsibility, and we need to help all members of our community make informed decisions,” Corey said. “Students entering the ninth grade make critical decisions about their futures, but they don’t always understand the impact of their decisions. ‘Which math class is best for me, what science classes will best suit my goals?’ These are important questions.”

The me3 program was created with support from the Lodestar Foundation, a Phoenix-based philanthropic organization that issues grants to nonprofits that encourage philanthropy, public service, volunteerism and collaboration among charitable programs working in the same or complementary areas. With the support of Lodestar, me3 will become a collaborative project inclusive of all public, tribal and nonprofit postsecondary schools in Arizona, showing students their options for degree attainment.

The program is in its first phase. As the tool unfolds it will be used to integrate academic, career and financial planning and to promote academic mind-sets that build confidence and support informed decisions among students who do not always have the information they need to be successful.

The official rollout of me3 will be Sept. 8 at ASU’s SkySong Innovation Center with ASU President Michael Crow. The event will also feature a live demonstration of the tool. To register to attend the rollout event, click on this link.

The me3 software works across all platforms and can be accessed from a desktop computer or mobile device at https://www.asu.edu/me3.

Media relations specialist, Media Relations and Strategic Communications