Celebrating the members of the League of Professional Theatre Women

Archive for the tag “Rodgers and Hammerstein”

KS Stevens

KS Stevens, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenPlaywright
New York, New York USA

When I look for inspiration among playwrights, I look to Rodgers & Hammerstein, Kander and Ebb, Laurents and Sondheim. The attention paid to crafting rich stories and characters made my experiences in the theatre emotional ones. I grew up devouring the musicals from Rodgers and Hammerstein. When I got older I rented their musicals and to see what else they had done and saw South Pacific. When I first watched and heard the song “Carefully Taught” I cried. Here was this writing team from the ‘40s and ‘50s that I thought only wrote sweet musicals with children in King and I and Sound of Music and I now heard this song talking about racism being taught and learned, 30 years before I was born. It was so bold and unique. That’s when I realized musical theatre and theatre could have social impact for the better. They tackled racism and civil rights in their shows over and over. When I realized without them there would be three less Asian-American musicals it really made me stop and think about their views and what drove them as artists to use theatre as their artistic vehicles.

My new musical BIG EXCELLENT 20TH REUNION is intentionally ethnically diverse on stage and behind the scenes. It is historically the first Off Broadway production that was created by and has lyrics, libretto and composition written by an Asian-American woman. In addition to this, I am self-producing it. It is very funny because it talks about loss, family and the impact of HIV, civil rights, and cancer within a close circle of friends. It also gives voices to those that haven’t seen much representation. My characters are dynamic because they are beautiful, with flaws, and could be anyone’s best friend, brother, sister, daughter or son. And if one person stands up for someone else inside the theatre, then hopefully they will continue in real life.

KS Stevens debuts her new musical BIG EXCELLENT 20TH REUNION June, Off Broadway. (creator, producer, librettist, lyricist and composer.) Credits: Butch Mamas!, Yellow Lens & The Scene, “GO Magazine’s: 100 Women We Love.” Member: Dramatists Guild of America, Women’s Initiative 50/50 in 2020, Asian American Film Lab, & WOW Cafe Theatre.

Martha Richards

Martha Richards, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenExecutive Director, WomenArts – Non-profit Arts Manager
San Francisco, California USA

Where do you look for inspiration?
I am inspired by our history. I love reading about women’s accomplishments in theatre and in the world at large because those stories fill me with a sense of possibility for my own life and for the lives of all the women I work with.

What play or production changed your life?
I saw Mary Martin in a touring production of Peter Pan in San Francisco.  I was only in second grade, but from that day on I knew that I wanted to work in theatre when I grew up. My parents got me a record of the show and I listened to it over and over – learning all the songs by heart and trying to fly in our living room.

What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?
Plays by dead white men – Since I have spent the past 17 years constantly advocating for women artists, it feels terribly wicked, but I still love to see great productions of works by the male playwrights I grew up on – Ibsen, Shaw, Chekhov, Wilde, Coward, Kaufman & Hart, and of course, Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
I dream of taking a series of leisurely trips by bicycle and train where I could meet with women theatre artists in different parts of the world and observe their work.

What is your best escape?
I love being with my friends – especially if we can go for a long walk or have a nice meal. I always find that being in nature calms me down and helps me focus, and I often get my best ideas during casual conversations with my friends.

I feel most like myself when I ….
am sitting at my computer solving some complicated budget or software problem. I love those math problems.

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you?
My introduction to arts management involved folding paper towels from the school bathroom into Origami paper swans to sell to my classmates. Instead of applauding my incipient managerial skills, my teacher sent me to the principal’s office for taking too many paper towels.

Martha Richards, Founder/Executive Director of WomenArts (a non-profit serving women artists) has held top management positions at Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College and StageWest. Holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of California Berkeley and a J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of Law.

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