Festival for Caribbean women writers selects winners

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The forthcoming “Hear Her Call” festival, selected seven Caribbean-American women writers for its York College event on March 29. The festival, which is co-produced by the Queens-based production company, Conch Shell Productions and the Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts Center, is a celebration of Caribbean women writers, and their stories and narratives and close to four dozen writers submitted, said founder and creator Magaly Colimon-Christopher.

“We had over 44 submissions and they were all pretty amazing — we were not expecting a lot of responses for our first time,” she said. “We were very happy with them and narrowed down to seven plays.”

The initial deadline was in late December, but was extended until Jan. 13 due to an uptick in last minute submissions.

The submission call asked for female writers of Caribbean descent to submit a short 10-minute play, with three characters or less, and have a unique story in any subject.

Colimon-Chrisopher along with two other members of the company’s selection committee, which also included her co-curator — spent most of January reading through dozens of submissions before deciding on six writers. Because they received so many submissions, Colimon-Christopher decided to include one more writer.

“There were a lot of plays to read and we ranked them from structure to content, and their approach to be innovative, and different ways of thinking about things,” she said. “A key element of the festival is to inspire new ways of looking at life and thinking of how we see the world.”

The seven selected writers represent Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and St. Kitts and Nevis. They are Wendy Arimah, France-Luce Benson, Maggie Diaz Bofill, Marjuan Canady, Nattalie Gordon, Rossely Harman, and Juliette Jeffers.

Colimon-Christopher says almost every woman who submitted work to the festival had ancestry from almost every country in the Caribbean. Several genres submitted range from comedy, drama, magical realism, to afrofuturism.

She said ensuring every island was represented was a priority of hers because she wanted different voices heard.

“That was really important for me because my vision is to create a stage for all people in the Caribbean,” said Colimon-Christopher. “I want to share their innovative viewpoints in society and how we can change with theater, and change the way we can think, because these are very clear and very unique voices we can hear from.”

In addition to showcasing the theatrical work written by Caribbean women, the company is also hosting an exposition in conjunction with the festival to support local and independent businesses. The exposition is offering owners of non-food businesses to sign up to become a vendor, and introduce their products to the festival attendees, said Colimon-Christopher.

“Our goal is to bring the community to every festival and beyond,” she said. “The community will be there to share their art form and their passions, so this is a great way to increase more awareness about their business.”

Vendors who apply will pay a regular table fee and the price of two admissions tickets, and non-profit organizations can get a vendor table at the price of two admission tickets.

Applications submitted before March 1 will earn an early bird special price.

“Hear Her Call” festival at Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts Center at York College [94-95 Guy R. Brewer Blvd. between Liberty and Archer avenues in Jamaica, (718) 262-5375, www.conchshellproductions.com]. March 29; noon and 7 pm. $5-10.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com. Follow her on Twitter @AS1mon.