Dorset Theatre Festival's Women Artists Writing Group was co-founded in 2016 by Heidi Armbruster and Mary Bacon. The Group includes Carolyn Baeumler Bost, Michelle Beck, Laura Gómez, Mariana Newhard, Elizabeth M. Kelly, Donna Eis, Sharahn LaRue, Maggie Diaz Bofill, Heather Alicia Simms, Mathilde Dratwa, and Polly Lee.
Dorset Theatre Festival’s Women Artists Writing Group began with a writing retreat in August 2016. A group of six women spent three days writing, sharing pages at the end of each day, and holding a small final presentation of their selected pages in Dorset Theatre Festival’s Gallery Cafe for artistic staff and subscribers.
Heidi Armbruster and Mary Bacon wanted to start a writers group for actresses. Mary saw one of Heidi’s plays at Chautauqua Theater Company while she was performing in a Molly Smith Metzler play at CTC. The two were cast in a reading together the following spring, and they began discussing their mutual want to create support and space for their writing. The pair’s initial aim was to host a personal retreat, but as Mary has close ties to Dorset Theatre Festival and had seen the company blossom under Dina Janis’s artistic leadership, Mary approached Dina about lending the pair institutional support. After Mary’s initial email about establishing a women artists writing group retreat at Dorset, Dina and then-Managing Director Molly Hennighausen wrote back, “YES. This is what we should be supporting!”
In March 2018 the Women Artists Writing Group held its first public reading in New York City at Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts.
Who we are: A diverse group of mid-career female actresses and theatre artists who are expanding their artistry through writing. Our purpose is to meet the whole female theatre artist where she is at as a writer, providing resources and support as she works to either discover her own voice or works towards completing a writing project. Writing gives agency to female theatre artists, who attest to its powerful liberating effect on all aspects of their individual artistic selves.
THE GROUP’S FUTURE
After the first retreat at Dorset Theatre Festival, Heidi and Mary wanted to continue the group and involve more women. Currently, the group meets twice a month at Primary Stages in New York City and will have another Dorset Theatre Festival retreat in summer 2018.