WomensWork Opens Stage to Women Creators Over 40

Lynne Collinson, Creative Director, WomensWork Theatre Collaborative. (photo credit: Vince Petronio)

Great news for theatre buffs in Rhode Island: a new collaborative, formed a year ago, is now taking off to produce more dramatic works by women. Named WomensWork Theatre Collaborative and headed by Creative Director Lynne Collinson, they will present a trio of plays about madness in 2019 and 2020.

WomensWorkRI Theatre Collaborative describes itself as “a creative collective designed to promote theatrical opportunities for women of all ages. A major mission focus is to provide leadership roles – on and off stage — for women over the age of 40.”

“WomensWork has chosen three plays – all written by women — that examine the ways madness manifests itself in women’s lives, whether from the strain of caring for a parent with a deteriorating mind, the seismic change brought about by midlife crisis, or the daily dread faced by women duty-bound to risk their lives for a tyrant,” said Collison, in an announcement rolling out the slate of plays to be produced over the next year.

Collinson’s creative vision for producing these plays promises to be both minimalist and profound. “The season will have the hallmarks that characterize the collective’s work so far-women-centered stories of merit, simply staged, rooted in strong acting with a sharp focus on material and message.” All three plays will be presented at the Black Box Theatre at The Artists’ Exchange, 50 Rolfe Street, Cranston, Rhode Island (my hometown!). The Artists’ Exchange is a non-profit visual and performing arts collaborative whose mission combines creativity and learning in an inclusive environment. Artists’ Exchange provides a home for multiple art studios, ceramics studio, 2 theaters, a gallery, and a caf√©. (In 2016, I participated in a Giving Circle that provided a grant to Artists’ Exchange for scholarships for girls to participate in programming.)

WomensWork Theatre Collaborative (WomensWorkRI) consists of 10 additional Founding Mothers, along with Collinson. “Last year we produced one full production, My Left Breast by Susan Miller, at Artists Exchange. That production later was staged at URI Providence as part of its Women’s History Month programming. We also produced a one-night evening of original monologues by RI-based women playwrights called WomenWhoWrite,” said Collinson, in an email exchange about the company’s beginnings.

I wanted to know more about how WomensWork Theatre Collaborative is finding the resources to do this exciting work. “We’ve kept expenses to a bare minimum, allowing us to pay our own way so far,” said Collinson. “Right now we’re doing a needs assessment and will likely kick off a fundraising initiative early in 2020.”

Here at Philanthropy Women, we’re excited for this new women-centered theatre collaborative in our community. The evidence is clear that women don’t have enough platforms to support and prioritize their creative works. We look forward to circling back to WomensWorkRI in 2020 and learning about their plans as they unfold to fund their new venture. And of course we’re looking forward to seeing the plays! Below are summaries of the plays to be produced.


by Julie Jensen (Oct-Nov 2019)

Dot uses a wicked sense of humor to sort out the tangle of her mother’s mind. Together they struggle with Ma’s inevitable decline, while Sis phones in advice from afar. Based on the playwright’s personal experience, the play is a surprisingly humorous and touching look at the toll Alzheimer’s disease takes on a mother-daughter relationship.


by Sandra Tsing Loh (March 2020)

In this madcap memoir of middle age, a woman takes her raging hormones on a road trip to Burning Man to celebrate her 50th birthday. It’s a laugh-out-loud tale of one woman’s roller coaster ride through “the change”.


by Michelle Kholos Brooks (May 2020)

Three times a day, every day, a group of young women have the opportunity to die for their country. They are Adolph Hitler’s food tasters. As the girls wait to see if they will live through another meal, they gossip and dream, they question and dance. Deliberately anachronistic, stretching across time to autocracy today, these young women want to love, laugh, and above all, they want to survive.

General Admission $20; Seniors & Students $15
Tickets will soon be available on-line at www.Artists-Exchange.org.

Contact: WomensWorkTheatre@gmail.com


Philanthropy Women covers funding for gender equity in all sectors of society. We want to significantly shift public discourse, particularly in philanthropy, toward increased action for gender equality. You can support our work and access unlimited and premium content with one of our subscriptions.


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Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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