The SheLA Summer Theater Festival is the premier festival for new, original, creative works by gender-marginalized playwrights and composers in Los Angeles.
Follow @SheLAArts on Instagram to get a behind-the-scenes look at the Festival!
The 2023 SheLA Festival will run July 10-16, 2023, in the Zephyr Theatre in West Hollywood
Tickets will go on sale June 1. Check back then for more information and to get tickets!
Some of our shows are currently casting! Click the buttons below to read the casting breakdowns, then click here to submit your materials for consideration:
Meet The Shows
the moon play
By Maddie Nguyen
When June Tran, a brilliant but discouraged space enthusiast, decides that humanity isn’t worth the effort anymore, her solution is simple – she’s going to build a rocket ship, fly it to the Moon, and live out the rest of her life in peaceful solitude. The only problem is that NASA keeps sending her annoying messages from a technician known only as “Houston” to negotiate her back down to Earth. Between her conversations with Houston and a Vietnamese folktale about the Man in the Moon, June is forced to confront both her longing and aversion to connection with other people.
Maddie Nguyen (she/her) is a playwright, actor, and poet currently based in Los Angeles, CA. She received her BA in Theatre Arts with an emphasis in Acting from the University of Portland and is also an alumnus of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Critic’s Institute. Previous original works produced include the Zoom play, “The Guest” (University of Portland and Peninsula College). She is represented by Forever Icon Talent Management and Image Powerhouse.
Sister, Braid My Hair
By Sarahjeen François
Oak and her sisters, Olei, Yeva, and Soraya live out their days as figures in a quintessentially Black work of art– the only place, it seems, where people like them are safe. They pass their time braiding one another’s hair while exchanging the stories and wisdoms of their predecessors who existed in the real-world. These stories entice the younger siblings to ignore caution and escape the safety of their frames to get a taste of reality, but when their exploits lead them through life-changing obstacles, they quickly discover that the real-world ain’t as pretty as their picture.
Sarahjeen François is a Haitian-American performer and Myth-maker whose creative work is an exploration of the rich storytelling practices of the Afro-folkloric. An MFA Acting graduate from CalArts, Sarahjeen’s artistic endeavors have led her to work with The Playwrights’ Center, The Atlantic Center for the Arts, Castello San Basilio, Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, CalArts Center for New Performance, Teatro Línea de Sombra, Horizon Theatre Company, Peach State Opera, and Out Front Theatre Company.
Bismillah, or In the Name of God
By Nakisa Aschtiani
In Bismillah, or In the Name of God, we meet Darius Shirazi and his best friend, Bahar Ohftahb. While the two were raised in completely different households, their immigrant parents always fought for the American Dream. When a shooting at a gay bar changes their lives forever, this group of longtime Iranian-American friends, from varied upbringings, are forced to grapple with their beliefs and fight for what is right in a new and troubling world. Who will stand up for you when you cannot take a stand for yourself? What happens when faith clashes with the promise of unconditional love?
Nakisa Aschtiani is super excited to be returning to the SheNYC/LA Festival Team. She made her debut with this organization in 2016 with her play, “Children of Camelot.” This is her third time here, and she can honestly say it gets better each time! Thank you to the incredible “Bismillah” company and for all the love and support. Kisses to her parents, hubby, and puppies!
There is Evil in This House
By Natalie Nicole Dressel
There is Evil in This House is about a pop culture-obsessed transgender girl who rewinds her childhood growing up in a haunted house, coming out to her mother, and attempts to discover the truth at all costs about the demons that haunt her still.
Natalie Nicole Dressel is a transgender writer/actress currently living in North Hollywood, CA. In 2019 she attained her MFA in writing for the Stage and Screen from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA, and in 2013 she earned her BFA in Theater from Michigan State University. She is a graduate of the UCB LA improv program, and currently makes her living adapting foreign language scripts for dubbing artists.
RoseMarie – A Kennedy Life Interrupted
Book, music, and lyrics by Margaret Owens
RoseMarie – A Kennedy Life Interrupted is the story of RoseMarie Kennedy told through the lens of her younger sister Eunice Kennedy as she looks back at their lives together. The musical illuminates the struggle of even the wealthiest of families, to raise a neuro-divergent child in the age of eugenics, institutionalization, and forced sterilization. Even though her story will ultimately end in tragedy, it will be RoseMarie’s influence that will change the world.
Margaret Owens is most recently a graduate from UCLA ’23. Her musical RoseMarie has enjoyed several professional staged readings. Her recent work The Chosen delighted audience at the UCLA Bruin Fringe Fest in ’22. As an accomplished singer songwriter she has released 13 self-produced albums available on all streaming platforms. She performs regularly at spiritual centers across the country. Margaret enjoys writing about hard emotional subjects and thrives by setting these life challenges to music.
Sign Up For The Artist Directory
Are you a stage manager, director, choreographer, musical director, or designer interested in working on the Theater Festival Shows? Add your name to our Artist Directory. We’ll send the writers this list of artists as a reference to help them fill in any blanks on their production teams. (Note this is not for actors – we do auditions through a separate process).
Pro Tip: Write “Festival Producer” or “Festival Volunteer” under “what’s your specialty” if you’re interested in volunteering for the Festival as a whole!
What is a Theater Festival?
The typical theater festival is an opportunity for playwrights to self-produce their work in full onstage, for a paying audience. Festivals have multiple shows which all share resources (like the theater itself, front-of-house staff and supplies, and technical equipment), making the process far less expensive for everyone than producing your show in full on your own. If you’ve done developmental readings already and feel like you’re ready to take the next step of seeing your piece fully staged, a festival is probably the right fit for you!
There is no participation fee to participate in the SheLA Summer Theater Festival.
The rental of a theatre and all of the equipment that goes inside of it is the biggest expense when you’re trying to self-produce. But when you’re in the Festival, SheLA covers it fully, including:
- Theater Rental
- Light rentals
- Sound system for sound cues – Laptop, QLab, house speakers
- Miscellaneous tech items like gaff tape, spike tape, etc.
- A 5-hour long tech slot to tech your show, followed by 2-3 performance slots
- General Liability insurance for your time inside the theater
We provide the staff IN the theater to make your tech and performances run smoothly, including:
- A Production Manager and Associate Production Manager to run your tech and call your show
- A lighting designer to design & program lights during your tech
- Full front of house staff & ticketing system
- A photographer for production photos
- A videographer to film your show for a digital performance and your future archival use
SOME SET PIECES & PROPS
- We provide some limited miscellaneous set pieces that will be shared by all of the shows, exact pieces TBD. In the past, we’ve had tables, chairs, and couches to offer to all of our productions. Our Production Manager will poll the shows to get an idea of what the furniture needs may be, and then will let all shows know what we can provide.
MARKETING & ADVERTISING
- We have a marketing campaign advertising the festival as a whole with social media ads, Google Ads, and various ads on other digital outlets that theatergoers frequent.
Some other tools and items we provide are:
- Festival playbill
- A reimbursement of $200 for your rehearsal expenses
- A closing night party with awards determined by a panel of industry judges
- Outreach to local organizations that may apply to your show’s subject matter to help promote ticket sales
- Our Tip The Writers program allows patrons to leave you a tip, which we pay out to you at the end of the Festival
- A life-long community of artists who will support all of your work in the future!
CAST AND CREATIVE TEAM
You can choose to work with Union or non-Union artists.
- If you do hire AEA actors, you will need to manage your contract or code with them, make sure you’re paying them the amount that your contract mandates, and provide the insurance required by AEA.
SheLA provides a Lighting Designer & Production Manager for tech & performances. You are welcome to hire your own Lighting Designer to work alongside ours if you would like, or your own Stage Manager to help manage your rehearsal process, but it is not required.
Since you’ve only got a small amount of time to tech your show and load in and out, we encourage you to keep design elements simple, but if you would like a set, props, or costume designer, you’re responsible for finding and hiring those people for your show.
Any set, costumes, and props that aren’t covered by our shared pieces.
If your show has live music, you or your musicians bring their own instruments. There is no piano in the space.
REHEARSAL STUDIO SPACE
You handle the entire rehearsal process before you get into the SheLA Theater. Booking rehearsal studios tends to be the biggest expense in your budget, so we encourage creativity – have your read-through in someone’s living room; rehearse outside in a park when it’s nice out! SheLA will reimburse you up to $200 for these expenses.
“ELBOW GREASE” MARKETING
While we manage paid ads for the festival, we need your help to spread the word about your show to your networks! You likely won’t need or want to put money into this — just some old-fashioned effort of creating social media pages for your show, emailing your network to let them know about your performances, and otherwise spreading the word to family & friends.
Pictured: A Kid at SheLA 2022. Photo credit: Sophia Goodin Photography.
Frequently Asked Questions
When will submissions open for the 2024 Festivals?
Script submissions will open on September 2023 for the 2024 SheLA & SheNYC Theater Festivals.
Submissions will open in December 2023 or January 2024 for the 2024 SheATL Theater Festival.
At that time, the application will be live at www.SheNYCArts.org/submissions.
What is it like to do my show in the Festival?
Once you get accepted into the Festival, you'll want to start thinking about a director for your show. We can help with that, and other creative team roles, by sharing our Artist Directory.
Next, casting! Work with your director to get your show cast, and hire any other creative team members you might need.
Then you'll spend the 1-2 months before your performance date rehearsing and getting your show ready. Simply put, you handle your show in the rehearsal room, while our staff gets the theater ready. Our Producers and Production Manager will be checking in often to get information from you and keep you on deadline.
Our Festival staff loads all our equipment into the theater the day before tech starts. You'll have an assigned 5-hour tech slot in which you must load in your set & costumes, do a cue-to-cue so our Lighting Designer can cue your lights, and then do a dress run of your show.
After that, you have 2-3 performances scheduled by our Production Manager. You have 15 minutes to load in your show before each performance, and 15 minutes to load out after. We handle everything related to Front of House - ticketing, box office, ushers, etc. - so all you have to worry about is what's happening on stage.
Finally, we close the Festival with a closing night party and awards ceremony!
What makes us different from other theater festivals?
Our goal is to make this an inclusive, productive, and affordable environment to see your work produced in full. We pride ourselves on providing more for less - more support, supplies, and learning opportunities without the prohibitive submission & participation fees that other festivals require.
Also, we’re working to create a network of professionals and artists that are devoted to promoting the voices of women & gender-marginalized professionals in theater -- not just put up your show and never hear from you again. We have meetings where all of the writers gather together to mingle, and hope that the other writers and artists involved in the festival will become lifelong friends, mentors, and supporters.
What are we looking for?
You've got an awesome show. We've got an awesome festival. It's like a match made in heaven.
We look simply for shows that are high-quality and written by people of marginalized genders. We like to have a good mix of genres in each festival - plays, musicals, comedies, dramas, experimental works, and more. We also are partial to shows with themes that fit our mission of women in leadership. But at the end of the day, we want to show the world that our playwrights produce high-quality work that deserves to be seen on Broadway and stages around the country - so, the number one factor in our decision-making is how well-written your show is.
Who can apply?
Any writer of a marginalized gender (including cis women, trans women, non-binary and gender non-conforming writers), or writing team that is at least 50% marginalized genders, is eligible to apply. We’re also taking adaptations that are directed or adapted by folks of marginalized genders, even if they were originally written by men. We only accept full-length shows for the Festival (no short plays), though note that there is a 2-hour run time limit for your performance.
What kind of shows can apply?
Musicals - musicals of any size, shape, and form are welcome to apply. Just keep in mind that 2-hour run time limit. You can submit a show that runs longer than that in its current form, as long as you're okay with making some trims for the festival.
Plays - again, plays of any size, shape, and form are welcome to apply!
Adaptations - are you a woman director or adapter who wants to do a reverse-gender production of King Lear? We love that. Just make sure you are actually able to obtain the rights to your show (sometimes, special rights have to be obtained if you want to adapt or change gender roles), or better yet, take a public domain play.
How many shows are picked and how will we pick them?
We’re aiming to take 8 shows for our She NYC Summer Theater Festival, though we reserve the right to pick as little as 6 or as many as 9 depending on what the submission pool is like. For our She L.A. Summer Theater Festival, we'll pick 5 shows. For Atlanta, we'll pick 3-5.
We’re judging the shows based on two things: The quality of the writing, and the relevance to our mission. Mostly, we’re focused on giving marginalized writers the notoriety and publicity they deserve, so the subject matter of your show will only play into the judging if we have a really tight race between two shows. If we’ve got one slot left and two equally awesome shows, and one is about Napoleon and one is about Molly Pitcher, we’ll probably pick the Molly Pitcher one.
How does the selection process work?
You submit your scripts and application materials by the submission deadline. We pass your script around to a team of script readers, so each script will be read by at least three different people. The shows that get the highest ratings get passed along to the semi-final round, where they will be read by at least two more script readers, with the highest-scoring shows moving to the finalist round. Starting in February, we’ll be notifying people if they’re finalists on a rolling basis. From there, the finalists are read by our full staff, and we make our final decisions after an in-depth team discussion.
By April, all of our selected participants will be notified, and we can start getting to work!
If I submitted a show in the past, can I submit again?
You sure can! You can submit the same show again, particularly if you've revised it, or a new show. If you've already had a show produced in the Festival, you can also submit a new show for this year.
Will we get feedback on our submissions?
Because we don't charge a submission fee and get such a large volume of submissions, we unfortunately don't have the bandwidth to offer feedback on each script.