Aphra Behn isn’t a household name, but amongst theatre people she’s recognized for her trailblazing work as an English playwright, poet, translator and fiction writer from the Restoration era. As one of the first English women to earn her living by her writing, Aphra Behn broke cultural barriers and served as a literary role model for later generations of female authors.

It’s fitting, then, that SATE, a St. Louis theater company that tells new and established stories in unfamiliar ways while promoting the work of women in theatre, will present a showcase of original work during its third annual Aphra Behn Emerging Artists’ Festival March 15-17. In recognition of International Women’s Day, we took a look at what this festival means for female theatre artists.

This year’s festival will consist of three plays written and directed by promising female artists. The three plays include “Burden of Proof” by Delaney Piggins, “Intervals” by JM Chambers and “V” by E.K. Doolin. Learn more about each play here.

Ellie Schwetye says this festival provides her and Artistic Director Rachel Tibbetts the opportunity to invest in up and coming female artists.

“When Rachel and I conceived of the festival, it was because we both felt that when we were young artists just starting our careers, SATE and other companies we worked with took a chance on hiring us and gave us an opportunity to continue to develop as directors and artists. We’ve both had great mentors throughout the stages of our careers (and continue to, to this day). The Aphra Behn Emerging Artists' Festival is one way we can give opportunities to the next generation of womxn artists coming up behind us. It's our chance to pay-it-forward.”

Schwetye says another exciting element of the festival is how artists from previous years continue to make artistic strides working with SATE and beyond. Playwright Alyssa Ward from the inaugural year was commissioned by SATE to make a new translation of “No Exit”, which became a mainstage SATE production in 2018. Director Katy Keating from the 2018 Festival made her SATE mainstage directorial debut last month with “Classic Mystery Game”, a script she also wrote. Lana Dvorak returns to this year’s festival as a director after her 2018 debut as a featured writer with a one-woman show about Amelia Earhart.

SATE is one of 21 tenants in the Arts and Education Council’s arts incubator, the Centene Center for the Arts. The incubator fosters a community of growth for St. Louis arts organizations by providing facilities and services they need – from below-market rate office spaces to free rehearsal and event spaces to collaborative spaces for idea-sharing. SATE has called the Centene Center for the Arts home since 2016.

The Aphra Behn Emerging Artists’ Festival is March 15-17 at 8:00 p.m. at the Centene Center for Arts. Tickets are $15 ($12 for ARTS Card members). Learn more here. For more information visit slightlyoff.org.

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