Supporting women in the arts is an important endeavor across the world, but here in Denver we have a group whose sole mission is just that. The Athena Project is a non-profit organization whose focus is to empower creative women and girls. It was started in 2012 by Colorado local Angela Astle, who spent a number of years in the NYC theater scene before bringing her talents back to the Mile High city.
Astle’s Athena Project began with a focus on theater via the Plays in Progress series. Women playwrights put together plays as workshops which were then presented to an audience (performed by actors sans costumes, sets, etc), and then one was be chosen to be performed in full at the first Athena Project Arts Festival. The organization has since developed a number of other programs, from a girls summer camp to various fundraisers and, of course, the Athena Project Arts Festival.
This is the organization and festival’s sixth year, and it’s their largest one yet. They’ve gathered the creative powers of women in dance, music, and theater to come up with a month’s worth of must-attend events. It kicked off this month with the “Girls Create Celebration” where summer camp attendees showcased their work, and moved on to an open mic night, dance workshops, and more. Here are five events from the fest we hope you didn’t miss:
When: March 9, 8:00-10:00 p.m.
Where: Swallow Hill Music
What: Imagine pairing off a musician and a playwright, or a dancer and spoken-word artist, and giving them just 12 hours to complete a new performance. That’s exactly what Cross-Pollinations did on this day. The duo only met once before, but they didn’t start collaborating until the morning of their performance. Some interesting creative works abounded.
Weekend of Music Concert
When: March 10, 8:00-10:00 p.m.
Where: Swallow Hill Music
What: The Athena Project crew presented this live concert that featured two Coloradan singer-songwriters: Nina De Freitas and Megan Burtt. Burtt was Westword Music Awards’ Best Singer/Songwriter of 2015 and has toured internationally. De Freitas is a Brazilian artist who has collaborated with Slow Magic and Academy Award nominee Carlinhos Brown.
Evening of World Dance
When: March 17, 8:00-10:00 p.m.
Where: CU Eugenia C. Rawls Courtyard Theater
What: Audiences watched as a multitude of dancers performed everything from samba to modern dance to contemporary ballet and more, all put together by Colorado-based women choreographers. There was also a brief talk after the show to get the audience more engaged in the world of dance and choreography.
When: March 23-24, Various times
Where: Black Box Theatre at Johnson-McFarlane Hall – University of Denver
What: Three very different plays were workshopped throughout the weekend, and all were worth our attendance. “Mama’s Eggnog” dealt with siblings coming together at the holidays following the loss of their mother, and the chaos that ensues. “The Buddha’s Wife” combined the stories of a feminist PhD candidate struggling with her new status as a stay-at-home mom and the life of a 16-year-old princess living in India 2500 years earlier, as the stay-at-home mom and wife of none other than Siddhartha. “The Golden Hour” followed the story of a man and woman reunited after a decade apart, with themes of love, sex, and grief all woven into their evening where they recount the past and contemplate the future.
Still to Come:
Concert Reading – Strong Face
When: March 29, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Where: Black Box Theatre at Johnson-McFarlane Hall – University of Denver, 1903 East Iliff Avenue, Denver, CO 80208
What: Louisiana-based Philana Imade Omorotionmwan brings her unique play to Denver for this special concert reading. “Strong Face” follows the story of Follywood actress Bentley Jones, who is continuously mistaken for a man. But when she’s cast in a slavery-themed biopic, she must decide whether she’s ready to reveal her identity.
Cost: $5 suggested donation. Reservations are required for this event.