WP Theater Announced as Winner of Bold Theater Women's Leadership Circle Grant; Adds Tamillla Woodard & Rachel Karpf to Their Team

By: Feb. 01, 2018
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Northern Stage announced today that WP Theater (formerly Women's Project Theater) is among the five winners of an unprecedented new grant to support women artistic directors in professional theaters across the United States. The BOLD Theater Women's Leadership Circle, led by Carol Dunne, Producing Artistic Director of Northern Stage, will provide $1.25 million of support for Northern Stage and four other theaters run by female artistic directors during the 2018-2019 season. Each theater will receive a $250,000 grant.

The BOLD Circle's mission is to create a network of women artistic directors in professional theaters across the United States and empower them to address the issues preventing women from advancing in theater leadership. The BOLD Circle will offer major support of artistic initiatives focused on women artists and will create a formal mentorship program to train and prepare future women artistic directors to lead, create, innovate, and deepen the impact of theater on American culture.

WP Theater is using the grant in part to elevate two extraordinary artistic leaders and WP Lab alums to senior positions on its artistic staff with the hiring of Tamilla Woodard as Associate Artistic Director, and Rachel Karpf as Artistic Producer.

"In this time of turmoil and change, the BOLD Artistic Leadership grant feels like a beacon in the wilderness, I am honored to join these indomitable women in fostering the next generation of female artistic leadership in the theater, and in shattering glass ceilings across the nation." said Lisa McNulty.

"I have been extraordinarily lucky to have so many incredible female mentors throughout my career, and it is my greatest privilege to advise and collaborate with Tamilla and Rachel in the season ahead."

In addition to WP Producing Artistic Director Lisa McNulty, the first cohort of the BOLD Theater Women's Leadership Circle includes Susan V. Booth (The ALLIANCE THEATRE, Atlanta, GA), Eileen Morris (The Ensemble Theatre, Houston, TX), Sarah Rasmussen (Jungle Theater, Minneapolis, MN), and BOLD founder Carol Dunne (Northern Stage, White River Junction, VT).

Each of the artistic directors chosen for the BOLD Circle has demonstrated artistic excellence and a deep impact on community. The leaders have also demonstrated a strong history of mentoring and will work together to elevate the next generation of artistic directors.

The BOLD Theater Women's Leadership Circle was created to address the small percentage of women artistic directors in the American theater. A recent study by Wellesley Centers for Women, commissioned by American Conservatory Theater Artistic Director Carey Perloff and former Executive Director Ellen Richard, revealed that women hold only 20% of artistic leadership positions in the American regional theater, and that the dearth of female theater leaders is not due to a lack of candidates but rather to a clearly observed glass ceiling preventing women from assuming the artistic helm of professional theaters. The study points to a lack of trust from boards of directors as they interview women candidates, a lack of mentorship focused on women leaders, a complicated work-life balance that can dissuade women from pursuing leadership positions, and a lack of fundraising and producing experience.

"We were overwhelmed by the applicants for the BOLD Circle," said Dunne, who noted that the BOLD Circle received over 40 applications. "The stories that our country's women artistic directors had to tell should be required reading for anyone interested in why women hold such a small percentage of leadership positions in the American theater. I am confident that this first cohort of visionary artistic directors will pave the way for countless others."

Along with the $250,000 grant, the BOLD Circle will provide leadership resources for women artistic directors and networking opportunities in semiannual meetings. It also provides for a woman Associate Director position designed to train the artistic directors of the future. The BOLD Circle is made possible through generous support from the Pussycat Foundation. For more information, visit https://northernstage.org/2017/09/18/boldcircle/


WP THEATER (Formerly known as Women's Project Theater) is the nation's oldest and largest theater company dedicated to developing, producing and promoting the work of female-identified and trans theater artists at every stage in their careers. For nearly four decades we have served as leaders at the forefront of a global movement towards gender parity. WP empowers female-identified artists to reach their full potential and, in doing so, challenges preconceptions about the kinds of plays women write and the stories they tell. WP artists work regularly on and off Broadway, and collectively, have won all of the awards currently given for achievement in the field, including multiple Tony, Lortel, OBIE, Drama Desk, Drama League, Lilly, and Whiting Awards; an Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama; and multiple Pulitzer Prizes. WP was founded in 1978 by visionary producer, Julia Miles, to address the significant under-representation of women in theater. www.wptheater.org

NORTHERN STAGE is a regional non-profit LORT-D professional theater company with a mission to change lives, one story at a time. Located in White River Junction, VT, Northern Stage actively involves its audiences with ambitious productions and expansive educational programs in its new home, the Barrette Center for the Arts. Founded in 1997, the company has offered more than 120 high-quality professional productions of new works, classics, and musicals. The company is now in its 21st season and annual attendance is over 35,000. Five years ago, the company launched a new play festival that has cultivated four world premiere productions, and two Off-Broadway transfers. A robust education program focuses on professional training in a nurturing and supportive environment for student ages 10 and up. Yearlong acting ensembles, by-audition summer musical theatre productions, a regional theater in the schools program, and a Dartmouth College Experiential Learning Term (accredited by Actor's Equity) are hallmarks of the education offerings. northernstage.org

Lisa McNulty (Producing Artistic Director, WP Theater). Lisa is in her fourth season as Producing Artistic Director of WP Theater. She came to WP from Manhattan Theatre Club, where she served as Artistic Line Producer for eight seasons, working on more than 30 productions both on and off Broadway, including plays by Lynn Nottage, Sarah Treem, Harvey Fierstein, and Tarell Alvin McCraney, among many, many others. Lisa has a long history with WP Theater; she was originally hired by the company's founder, Julia Miles, as the Literary Manager from 1997-2000, where she dramaturged work by María Irene Fornés, Julie Hébert, and Karen Hartman, among others. In 2004, she returned to WP as its Associate Artistic Director at which time she served as the company's casting director and literary manager, and again ran WP's Playwrights Lab. Her independent producing career includes projects with Sarah Ruhl, Todd Almond, and Lucy Thurber - all at 13P. Lisa has also served as the Producing Associate at the McCarter Theatre, acting as Line Producer on McCarter's mainstage, as well as developing McCarter's commissioned short series.

Tamilla Woodard (Associate Artistic Director) is the co-founder of PopUP Theatrics, a partnership creating immersive and participatory theatre for audiences in Europe, South America, Mexico and the US since 2007. She also serves as Artistic Director of Working Theater's community initiative project: Five Boroughs/One City and is a former Time Warner Foundation Fellow of the WP Directors Lab, Alumnus of The Lincoln Center Director's Lab, Audrey Fellow at New Georges and a Usual Suspect at New York Theatre Workshop. Recent work includes: James Scruggs' 3/Fifths at 3 Legged Dog, PolkaDots: The Cool Kids Musical with The Atlantic Theatre Company, Harbur Gate by Kathleen Cahill at Salt Lake Acting, Melisa Tien's Yellow Card Red Card at the New Ohio, Beto O'Byrne's Loving and Loving at Stella Adler, Miami Motel Stories, a site-specific immersive in Miami's Historic Little Havana. This past season her work on the critically acclaimed Immersive 3/Fifths was called "Visually and conceptually stunning" by the New York Times. The Miami Herald called Miami Motel Stories "An ingeniously sculpted experience ...that doesn't ask us to suspend disbelief; it begs us to believe in our humanity". She is a graduate of The Yale School of Drama's Acting program and is the recipient of The Josephine Abady Award from The League of Professional Theatre Women and The Charles Bowden Award from New Dramatists.

Rachel Karpf (Artistic Producer)'s recent projects include the Bushwick Starr world premiere and WP/Starr/New Georges Off-Broadway remount of Kate Benson's [PORTO] (dir. Lee Sunday Evans), Lisa Lampanelli's Stuffed (dir. Jackson Gay, Westside Theatre), Martyna Majok's queens (Pipeline Festival), and Spare Rib, a theatrical reproductive rights fundraiser with Gloria Steinem. As Associate Director of Page 73: You Got Older (2 OBIE Awards), Grounded, and When January Feels Like Summer. For Beth Morrison Projects: Kansas City Choir Boy feat. Courtney Love (A.R.T.) and Persona (MIT/National Sawdust). She has produced, curated, and developed new works with New Georges, The Public Theater, LCT3, New York Theater Workshop, 13P, and with artists including Sarah Hughes, McFeely Sam Goodman, Ellie Heyman, and The Institute for Psychogeographic Adventure. Rachel is a former Time Warner Foundation Fellow of the WP Producers Lab and a graduate of Dartmouth College.


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