Susan Lyles' focus on women playwrights: From crawl to a sprint

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Editor’s Note: The DCPA NewsCenter offers a weekly guest column from a variety of local and national voices covering a wide range of theatre topics. To submit a proposed guest column, email your name and proposed topic to jmoore@dcpa.org.

By Susan Lyles
And Toto too Theatre Company Founder

It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since And Toto too Theatre Company produced the world premiere play, Appliance, by Canadian playwright Lindsey Price. Ten years later, we are still the only theatre in Denver that focuses entirely on producing new plays by women playwrights, with stories told in our voices and reflecting our experiences.

We have produced world and regional premieres, workshopped new plays and launched one of the most unique fundraising artistic events in the country, The Play Crawl. The Crawl, which returns Wednesday (June 10), brings together dozens of actors, directors and playwrights who volunteer their time to create an evening of environmentally performed 2-minute plays in the historic Tennyson Arts District.

This amazing collaboration has been ongoing for the last five years. It not only highlights our local creative talent, but also this vital neighborhood of independently owned stores.  After soaking in the artistry and warm summer evenings, it’s back to our silent auction and dancing at the Oriental Theatre.

As we move into our second decade, we have some exciting new programming to look forward to in the form of a new reading series performed in cafés and clubs around Denver. This series will highlight the new work of some of the playwrights we have produced over the last few years. Our fall production will be the regional premiere of the provocative erotic power game, Smoke by Kim Davies.

As we look back over the last 10 years, it has been a challenge. We lost two performance spaces to encroaching development in the Denver area. Through all of these transitions, we have stuck to our mission of supporting the new works of the woman playwright, in spite of advisers pushing for us to do more well-known plays to pull in an audience.  

In staying faithful to our mission, we have built up a loyal fan base made up of both men and women with an age range that crosses generations and makes us even more determined to find a solid home base for And Toto too Theatre Company this year.

Moving forward, it is exciting to see some really big players in the national community choosing to produce entire seasons of works by women. This bold move will cause a ripple effect and open the door to even more women playwrights across all levels of our community. Perhaps this door will open even wider to include more stories from our GLBT playwrights and playwrights of color, thus making our stages more truly reflective of the world in which we live.

Play Crawl 2015
Wednesday, June 10
6-11 p.m.
Tickets $35 ($8 after 9 p.m)
Oriental Theatre, 4335 W. 44th St., Denver CO 80212
Includes mixer, silent auction and DJ Savior Breath
Featured playwrights: Linda Berry, Christie Brenner Winn, Lisa Wagner Erickson, Jennifer Faletto, Ellen K. Graham, Rebecca Gorman O’Neill, Leslie C. Lewis, Melissa Lucero McCarl, Nina Alice Miller, Carrie Printz, Carol Samson, and Sheila Traister.

Tickets available online at www.andtototoo.org or by calling 720-583-3975.


About Our Guest Columnist:
Susan Lyles is an actor, designer, director and producer with shows in Chicago, Wichita and Denver to her credit. She has worked on stage, in film, TV, print and voiceover.  She has a BA in performing arts from Wichita State University and a certificate in Shakespeare from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She is also the mother of two boys, one of whom is an aspiring playwright/writer; the other an aspiring actor. She is wife to an amazing entrepreneur/artist, and mom to two monster-size furbabies. 

Our Guest Columns to date:
Bryan VanDriel on Lloyd Norton: A name that will live on in Greeley
Jessica Jackson on Creede Repertory Theatre’s 50th anniversary season
 
Be Our Guest (Columnist)
The DCPA NewsCenter offers a weekly guest column from a variety of local and national voices covering a wide range of theatre topics. To submit a proposed guest column, email your name and proposed topic to jmoore@dcpa.org.

And Toto Too Productions through the years.

Photos by Darren Smith, Brian Landis Folkins and Sarah Roshan. Actors include Billie McBride, Emma Messenger, Paul Page, Rita Broderick, Adrienne Martin Fullwood, Steven Burge, Mark Collins, Lauren Cora Marsh and more.

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