“Being surrounded by all of these amazing women coming together and supporting each other like crazy . . . Respecting each other like crazy . . . It’s a reminder that we’re all in this together – we’re so much more powerful when we lift each other up and celebrate our accomplishments.”
– Tressa Glover, SWAN Day Pittsburgh
When you talk to Tressa Glover and Don DiGiulio about SWAN Day Pittsburgh, the first thing you notice is their love for each other and for the amazing community of artists they have built. They are theatre artists who believe in taking risks and they invite other artists to leap into the creative unknown with them. Through their SWAN Day Pittsburgh events over the past seven years, they have presented over 350 artists, and they have created an incredibly rich environment for cross-disciplinary collaborations.
On Saturday, March 5 they will present SWAN Day Pittsburgh 2016 (an evening performance of short works) and SWAN Day, Jr. (afternoon arts workshops for kids) at the Twentieth Century Club in Pittsburgh, PA. For more information visit the website of their theatre company, No Name Players. They are donating 20% of the proceeds to the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh.
An Evening of World Premieres & New Connections
SWAN Day Pittsburgh is unique because Glover and DiGiulio give artists a prompt every year and challenge them to create brand new songs, dances, theatre pieces, and visual art, so that the show is an evening of world premieres. This year the prompt is from the medieval theologian Meister Eckhart, “And suddenly you know. . . It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”
Glover and DiGiulio often speak of SWAN Day as their favorite night of the year because it generates so much positive energy for both the artists and the audience members. Artists often find new collaborators. They have had dance companies collaborate with musicians and a theatre artist partner with a composer to create an original musical as a result of their SWAN Day connections. Two of the 10-minute plays that have premiered at SWAN Day Pittsburgh have been produced by professional and collegiate theatre organizations in other states.
Glover also speaks about the ways that SWAN Day helps her cope with the challenges of being a female actor. Since there are fewer roles for women than men, “Female actors are often competing against each other for the same role, and that can lead to tensions among us. We don’t have enough opportunities to work together or alongside each other. . . SWAN Day hits a reset button for me.”
A Powerful Community
Even though SWAN Day is a lot of work, Glover and DiGiulio say it is worth it. It was a whirlwind putting together their first SWAN event in 2009, but when they saw the talent and dedication of the artists and their willingness to be part of a celebration that no one in Pittsburgh had heard of before, they knew that SWAN Day was something special that they had to keep doing.
Glover and DiGiulio have also noticed that SWAN Day expands their sense of their community all year long. As Glover says, “I’ve realized that my community is much larger, and diverse, than I thought. . . Not only do artists from different disciplines get to meet and work together and share a stage, but different audiences get to meet and mingle and share a once-in-a-lifetime experience . . . It’s a reminder that we’re all in this together – we’re so much more powerful when we lift each other up and celebrate our accomplishments.”
Congratulations and thanks to Tressa Glover and Don DiGiulio and to all the artists of SWAN Day Pittsburgh for building such a powerful platform for the women artists and audiences in their region. They are building friendships and creative partnerships that will have ripple effects for years to come, and they are a wonderful inspiration for women artists around the world.
Learn More About the Origins of SWAN Day Pittsburgh
For the first SWAN Day Pittsburgh in 2009, Glover and DiGiulio taped interviews with diverse women in Pittsburgh, and then asked artists to create works inspired by the videos. That format was a huge success with the artists and the audiences, and it was a great way to shine a spotlight on the perspectives and concerns of everyday women who are so often ignored. You can hear them discuss this in the 2011 television interview below.
Here’s a great video featuring artists who participated in SWAN Day Pittsburgh 2014. Inspired by Maya Angelou’s statement,“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you,” Glover and Digiulio asked each artist to create a work “based on a story they had never told before.”
You can find more great videos by searching YouTube for “SWAN Day Pittsburgh,” and you can learn more about Glover and DiGiulio’s other work by searching YouTube for “No Name Players.” Be sure to check out the videos of Glover’s latest work on “The Sisters Sorella,” a live monthly sitcom that will soon be a series of webisodes.