Activist Spotlight: Mya Kagan, The Future is Female Festival.
The Future Is Female Festival was created by playwright Mya Kagan in response to the results of the 2016 presidential election. During the campaigns, Kagan had noticed that the 1970s slogan “The Future Is Female” had become popular again, and many women were recontextualizing it as a way of saying that the future would hold more opportunities for women of all backgrounds. In the wake of the election results, Kagan felt that this sentiment was something we had truly lost.
Not willing to accept that loss, Kagan decided to create a national theatre festival that would encourage women playwrights to envision a future that is female and to amplify each other’s voices. She invited individuals and theatre companies across the US to host productions or readings during March 2017 of ten-minute plays written by women of all backgrounds as part of The Future Is Female Festival.
To build the festival, Kagan enlisted the help of Lauren Orkus as co-producer, and Sarah Cosgrove as social media manager. The trio have volunteered their time out of the desire to do something positive for women artists and for all women in this challenging historical moment.
The kick-off event for the festival was held at University Settlement’s Speyer Hall in New York City on March 3, 2017. It featured works by well-known local playwrights Sara Cooper, Georgina Escobar, Amina Henry, Geraldine Inoa, M.M. Kagan, Winter Miller, Riti Sachdeva, and Caridad Svich, with directors Emily Mendelsohn, Illana Stein, and Mo Zhou.
There will be 26 other festival performances in 18 cities. Across the U.S. and Canada, the festival will feature the work of over 140 women and reach over 2,000 audience members. Most of the groups will donate a portion of their proceeds to charities of their own choice. Others are offering free or pay-what-you-can tickets. The festival is maintaining a Google doc calendar of all the events.
Kagan notes that one of the objectives in creating a national festival was to do something that would reach beyond the liberal echo chamber of New York City. That goal seemed tricky at first, but was quickly shown to be the opposite. In fact, it was primarily small towns and conservative “red states” that signed up first, and they make up a full third of the total performances. Kagan says it was especially exciting that many of the events in smaller towns were formed by artists who were coming together for the first time, a testament to the power of the festival concept.
The festival founders felt strongly that the work of young women, teens, and college students should be included, since they are “the females with the most future of all.” Our society often acts as if young women have no brains, no independent thought, and no ability to make a difference in the world. The Future Is Female Festival aims to show young women that they don’t have to wait to have a voice and a vision, and several events focus on their work.
In addition to the 27 official festival events and their curated short plays, the Festival offers a simpler way to participate. Anyone can sign up in March to create a “pop-up” event if they want to invite friends over for a casual play reading in their living room, community center, or college dorm. Just sign up, and you will be given online access to short plays that were submitted to the festival in an open call that you can read.
About Mya Kagan
Mya Kagan is a playwright, TV writer, and patriarchy smasher. She’s the creator of SubmittingLikeAMan.com, in which she resubmits previously-rejected scripts under a man’s name, which has been read 15,000 times in 59 countries, and is also the founder of its spinoff project The Future Is Female Festival. Favorite shows include: Play Chunks! at Ars Nova; Puppet Love at the American Globe (Festival Finalist & Honorable Mention for Best Show); and Hi, Princess: 12 Variations on a Catcall at Dixon Place. myakagan.com