L.I.P. Service Is Listening In 2018
2017 brought so many female stories to the front of our societal consciousness, most notably stories of brave women finding their voices, standing up, supporting each other & breaking the silence. Stories that had been silenced or even ignored for far too long. L.I.P Service Productions continues to stand in support of these women- especially those in the DFW Artist Community. We know that there is more work to do.
A year ago, at the end of 2016, L.I.P. Service's founder & owner Jason Leyva made a conscious decision to highlight female driven content & the work of female directors in the 2017 season. This motivation was partially in reaction to the 2016 Presidential election, and partially driven by something deeper and more personal.
He was quoted at the time in an interview with Mark Lowry of TheaterJones as saying, ""I've been told that we have a tendency to lean toward questionably misogynistic material. That wasn't our intent...but [that accusation] has hit me hard." Jason had also been personally struck by the closure of the Profiles Theatre company in Chicago. A company with which he saw artistic parallels to L.I.P. Service. They both sought out similar artistic material that was raw & sometimes viscerally real. They had both been founded around the same time, they were both anchored by a committed group of core artists in a thriving theater city. They both had been accused of producing plays with misogynistic story lines. But in mid-2016, Profiles abruptly closed after a decades long history of harassment & abuse perpetrated by the artistic director came to light. The #NotInOurHouse movement started in Chicago in response to the Profiles scandal, & Leyva followed it closely, angered that another artist interpreted his company's principles, much like those of L.I.P. Service, and instead of creating art that challenged audiences, saw them as an opportunity to use his creative power to commit crimes against fellow artists. The Profiles scandal centered around a production of "Killer Joe", a play that L.I.P. Service had also produced to much critical acclaim & recognition at the DFW Column Awards. It was despicable to see that the Profiles Artistic Director had used the same play as an opportunity to harm his fellow actors, rather than as an opportunity to hold a mirror up to the terrible actions of characters in a powerful story & to provide an opportunity to learn and spur a discussion about our collective humanity, as had been L.I.P. Service's goal.
As a Production Company, L.I.P. Service immediately adopted a progressive Code of Conduct with an aggressive sexual harassment policy in 2016, which was based on the Chicago Theater Standards set during the #NotInOurHouse movement in Chicago. L.I.P. Service expanded on their code with additional onstage intimacy & violence guidelines to protect our artists & creative team members.
In early 2017, L.I.P. Service would too soon need to implement procedures & punishments outlined in their new Code of Conduct during a production. The creative team learned that the code has limitations- and it is only effective if employees report issues. Hearsay was followed up on, and a formal complaint soon lead to a team member leaving the company during a production. It was painful, inconvenient, upsetting, and necessary. It was the right thing to do. The company vowed to keep learning and improving- to make sure that our employees have a clear line of action to report issues & an understanding that they will not be punished for speaking up. Unfortunately, the company also became wary of new people- the casting team began checking references & asking about someone's history before bringing new people into future productions. We were determined to learn & grow.
By November, L.I.P. Service was closing out the 2017 season during the height of the #MeToo movement with Ellen Fairey's "Graceland", a play centered around a very strong & equally flawed female character, & led by a female stage manager. The production also increased the number of union contracts used in this production, and the 2 Actors Equity Union contracts were both utilized on the 2 female roles in the show,
In December L.I.P. Service listened: attending the Artist Town Hall hosted by TheaterJones Editor Mark Lowry, Laura T. Fisher, one of the original Coordinators of the Chicago Theatre Standards, & Joanie Schultz, Artistic Director of WaterTower Theatre.
As we move into 2018, we continue to strive to grow, to do more, to be better, and to promote the safety & equality of our team members while continuing to uphold our motto, "It's all about the art".
In the spirit of that motto, we have decided to announce that the first production of 2018 will be playwright Janielle Kastner's "Ophelia Underwater", starring Sadie Grace Leyva. This one-woman tour de force is an exploration of the female experience, and especially of the emotional journey of a young woman who is struggling to survive in society. Based, on the character of Ophelia, Shakespeare's drowned heroine from Hamlet, Janielle Kastner brilliantly provides a modern voice & a fuller realization to an underwritten female character. Ophelia becomes an average teenage girl, struggling with high expectations of her family, media, and her peers. An exploration of why trying to be a 'good girl' makes her feel so terribly bad.
The opening night's performance will be followed by a Safe Spaces 2018 Panel Q&A. We hope to inspire a conversation about the issues reflected in the show & where we as a society are headed as we shine a light on the recent recognition of harassment & inequality in the theater community & our society as a whole.
A portion of L.I.P. Service's ticket sales for "Ophelia Underwater" will be donated to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. RAINN is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization, who's victim service programs help an average of 673 survivors each day. If you are also interested in supporting RAINN, or learning more about their work, please visit www.rainn.org
L.I.P. Service Presents:
By: Janielle Kastner
Performances: January 19, 20
Time: 8:00 PM Curtain
Where: The Firehouse Theatre, 2535 Valley View Lane, Farmers Branch, TX 75234
Tickets: $20.00 available now at the following link:
· 7:30 PM Reception
· 8:00 PM Performance
· 9:30 PM Safe Spaces 2018 Panel Q&A
· 7:30 PM Reception
· 8:00 PM Performance
· 9:30 PM Season Announcement