Sheathed at Theatre Off Jackson

Holy hannah, what a ride! Maggie Lee and Amy Poisson have teamed up for more stage magic in Sheathed, a wonderfully rich sword fighting adventure in a world loosely based on historical Japan.

Now, I’m always one for more choreography on the stage, so I may be a bit biased when it comes to how freaking awesome this how is, but come on, what’s not to love? Ren finds herself striking out across the countryside trying to track down the generals at the heart of her father’s disgrace to get vengeance, but has a load of unexpected adventures along the way. Because what else would happen? If she was in, done, out, there wouldn’t be much of a story here. And Maggie is a master at crafting the perfect story.

Everything about this production is just gorgeous, from the set and lighting, to costuming and choreography. And the acting…whew, it’s intense! They definitely make you feel all the feels in this one. We attended on opening night and the startling difference of Ayo Tushinde on stage as Ren and then at the opening party afterwards was incredibly impressive. Amy Poisson put together a killer team on this one, and you really don’t want to miss out.

(Photos by Joe Iano)

Hey look! We’re finally getting things up to date!

Well, would you look at that! Somebody actually did the work they were supposed to! (cough, me, cough)

We’ve finally got all the information on our three premiere plays up and running on the site, and a page all about their playwright as well! Check it out! There’s lots of information about the plays, and links galore. Wicked fun.

But the reason everything got so delayed is we were just having way too much fun. Once we got all three of Maggie Lee’s plays up and on the page, we ran right into Geek Girl Con for our launch, followed by NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month if you haven’t head of it, very cool) and then the launch party for Seattle for the plays, and then the holidays, and I turned around and it was almost the end of February! Goodness.

But they are all set now! If you enjoy steampunk or speculative fiction of any kind, Maggie’s plays are a real treat.

Coming up next, we’re in talks for two new plays for this year, and ways you can submit your plays for consideration! We need some non-binary folks and men, we’re practically swimming in women over here…

Smoke and Dust at Theatre off Jackson

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Smoke & Dust (produced by Macha Theatre Works) on its opening night at Theatre off Jackson in Seattle. This is an ambitious play that weaves together the intrigue surrounding Barbara Strozzi, an ambitious 17th century composer rumored to be a courtesan with the drama plaguing the modern day acting troupe exploring Strozzi’s story.

It takes a deft hand and quick wit to balance a group of actors playing actors who are caught between the 400 year-old-struggle of a brilliant woman and the politics of modern relationships and the realities of being female in our world. Director Amy Poisson was more than up to the challenge, creating an immersive and flawless world for the audience to connect with.

Bianca Raso plays the indomitable Liv/Barbara Strossi, and plays her to the hilt. As Liv, she’s a caring, determined big sister who is still trying to follow her passion while providing for her family, and as Barbara, she is a woman who disdains her assigned role and forges her own path in Italian society. I was captivated not only by her excellent acting, but also by her voice: Bianca is one of the most talented vocalists I have had the pleasure to hear on stage. Her tone is clear and striking, and her control is mesmerizing. You have no trouble believing that her character was once offered an apprenticeship at the Met.

The rest of the cast was just as brilliant. Belle Pugh playing Piper did an amazing job acting through the screen (she only appears in vlog posts) bringing through her emotion and trouble with amazing clarity for never setting foot on stage. The chemistry and timing between James Lyle and Caitlin Frances as ex-lovers and current playwright and director was real and vibrant. Peter Cook’s comedic timing was excellent, particularly during the mansplaining scene, and Michael Blackwood killed it on the part of the awkward musician, confirming the reality that it takes a really excellent actor to pretend to be a bad actor on stage. Shelby Windom was a beautiful note to the ensemble, and managed to sell her role as both a schoolgirl eager to learn and at the same time–nope can’t finish this sentence, too many spoilers.

Most of the photography from the show was by Joe Iano

Needless to say, I enjoyed the show immensely. The playwright, Joy McCullough-Carranza, did an amazing job paralleling the plight of women in the 17th century with the drama and judgement women still experience today. It hit several sore spots from my own time in high school, and made me wonder just how much worse certain of my interactions might have been had social media been around. Not that a woman’s life couldn’t be ruined by a simple poem published in an elite publication at any time, anyway. It reinforced my recent observations about some of the hard choices women have to make in this life, and reaffirmed my commitment to being a support for my fellow woman, rather than being judgemental and adding to their difficulties.

If you have the chance to go see this show, you absolutely should; it’s running until April 14th, 2018, and you can get tickets here.

Gaining Momentum

Hello! And welcome to the first ever post by Mneme Press. We are very excited to share these plays with you, and we’re working hard to ensure that the books we bring to market are the best possible. We’ve started conversations with a few Seattle-local play companies to form partnerships to help bring voices to market, and we’ll be starting with Maggie Lee’s New Providence trilogy of steampunk plays which were produced by Pork Filled Productions.

We’ll keep you updated as we add more playwrights to the publication list and the website will transform as well to have a catalog and search functionality to help you better find playwrights you can identify with. We hope to have The Clockwork Professor, The Tumbleweed Zephyr, and A Hand of Talons out by this spring for your enjoyment!

First up!

We are happy to announce that our inaugural plays for Mneme Press come from none other than the estimable Maggie Lee!

Maggie Lee is a Seattle playwright whose imaginative work reflects her love of adventure, science fiction, and horror. Her plays have been produced in by Seattle Public Theater, Pork Filled Productions, Pony World Theatre, The 14/48 Projects, Live Girls! Theater, SIS Productions, The Pocket Theater, Shoreline Community College, Playing in Progress, ReAct, Balagan Theatre, Double Shot Theatre Festival, Bindlestiff Studio, Theatre@First, Open Circle Theater, and more. Her steampunk train adventure The Tumbleweed Zephyr was nominated for a 2016 Gregory Award for Outstanding New Play, and was excerpted for the opening night event of the 2016 National Asian American Theater Conference in Ashland, Oregon. She was also a 2015 Art Projects grant recipient from 4Culture for her family park show The Journey of the Bell, a 2015 Playwright Mentor for Intiman Theatre’s Emerging Artists Program, a panelist for Asian American Women in Comedy at the 2011 National Asian American Theater Conference in Los Angeles, and featured at ACT’s Local Writers Showcase for the REPRESENT! Multicultural Playwrights’ Festival in 2011 and 2012. Maggie is a board member of Rain City Projects, a member of the Sandbox Artists Collective, and was an Artist in Residence at Theatre Off Jackson in 2013.

We have the pleasure of putting her 3 New Providence steampunk plays into print; we’ll keep you updated on their progress with some sneak peeks at the cover soon!