Theatre festival highlights women playwrights of colour

Now in its twelfth year, the River Crosses Rivers II festival is one of the only events in America that highlights the works of women playwrights of colour.

“The goal, simply put, is to give these women the kind of exposure that is provided by Ensemble Studio Theater, whose goal is to nurture individual theatre artists and to develop new American plays,” the festival website says. “The River Crosses Rivers II is a stellar lineup of playwrights whose voices add richness and texture to the American Canon.” The American Canon has not traditionally made a whole lot of space for women playwrights, and it’s made even less room for women playwrights of colour. The River Crosses River festival is one way to rectify that.

The New York Times recommends the play “Skin”:

Naveen Bahar Choudhury goes for it in “Skin,” a Bengali boy-meets-girl-in-a-fraught-doctor’s-office encounter, directed by Jamie Richards. Irritation, charm and drama ensue as hip-hop boy (Vandit Bhatt) does and does not convince tightly wound girl (Nitya Vidyasagar) of their common ground, including his feeling that she has the Bengali look: “Like that intellectual, pretentious kinda look. … Like you read Tagore while drinking chai, and listen to sitar.”

Sounds pretty great, right? Sure doesn’t sound like normal theatre fare – which is exactly the point of the festival.

The River Crosses Rivers II started a few weeks ago and continues until this weekend. Tickets are cheap by New York theatre standards – $18 each! You can buy them here.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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