'Indigo Blues A Lovesong'
7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 24 at TheatreWorks, 2085 Monroe. Tickets are $20 general, $15 students and military. Call 901-213-7444.
Last summer, a group of local women in the arts organized the first Women's Theatre Festival of Memphis to bring attention to the ever-growing body of dramatic work created by female playwrights, directors, choreographers and producers.
Organizer Karen Moore says more than 700 people attended the three-day event, with 200 artists participating in plays and workshops.
"It was very well-received by the community," Moore says. "It exceeded our expectations. Now, it's about turning it into a national event and bringing in some well-known celebrities."
The next biennial festival will take place in August 2014, and the group is starting to raise the $75,000 it will cost to put on the program.
This weekend, Moore is directing the play "Indigo Blues A Lovesong," written by Louisiana-born playwright Judi Ann Mason.
In this three-character comedy, two sisters from Louisiana harbor a longtime rivalry over a blues-playing saxophone player who mysteriously reappears after 30 years.
Moore says female playwrights like Mason may not be as well-known as Lorraine Hansberry ("Raisin in the Sun") or Wendy Wasserstein ("The Heidi Chronicles"), but their impact is still felt.
Moore and Mason met and became friends at the 1975 American College Theater Festival held in Dallas. Mason won the $2,500 Norman Lear award for a play she wrote called "Livin' Fat," about a poor black family conflicted about what to do with the unexpected arrival of a large sum of money.
Lear, the famous producer of gritty '70s sitcoms such as "All in the Family," brought Mason to Hollywood as soon as she graduated college. At age 22, Mason was writing scripts for "Good Times."
"She was one of the youngest sitcom writers in history," Moore said. "She was eccentric and wonderful."
As one of a small group of black female writers in Hollywood, Mason wrote prolifically for both stage and television. She was the executive story editor for "A Different World." She also wrote for "Sanford" and "Beverly Hills 90210."
In the late 1980s, she was a producer of the short-lived NBC soap opera "Generations," the first to feature an African-American family on the show from its inception. She also wrote the screenplay to "Sister Act II: Back in the Habit." She died in 2009 from a ruptured aorta.
A panel discussion will be held at noon Saturday at TheatreWorks, titled "My Voice, My Words: The Impact of African American Female Playwrights on American Theatre."