Getting Lesbian Shows To Broadway

An interview with Gene Fisch, Jr, director of the New York New Works Theater Festival.


Fun Home was a success, but what does that mean for theater by and about queer and lesbian women? How can more plays from our community gather Broadway steam? I recently spoke with Gene Fisch, Jr, festival director of the New York New Works Theater Festival about how the most important factor is getting your work in front of the right people. If you’re in NYC make sure to go see a night of performances at this festival that include Frozen West, Luna Fest, Ferment, and/or Lipstick!


What inspired you to create New York New Work Theater Festival?

Gene Fisch, Jr: So many writers spend thousands on getting their shows onto their feet within the world of festivals. I saw that aspect of the arts as broken and knew that I could fix it in my little part of the world. I aggregated legitimate Broadway and television professionals to review and enjoy the work while essentially funding most of the costs involved with the project so that the shows could focus on writing. The results have exceeded everyone's expectations and the Broadway community has turned out in full force to support these works.


How exactly does this help writers + producers of plays by or about lesbians and/or queer women?

There are many under-represented voices across many communities. So many times the costs take people out of the equation and we alleviate that so that talented people can be heard. Right now we are on the cusp of so many wonderful cultural acceptances and it is truly wonderful to see such exceptional talent conveying these messages.


Are producers afraid to take on plays from the community because some people might find them controversial?

I can only speak for me, but those works are incredibly contemporary and important. I personally have no fear in that regard.


Do they fear that they won't make money?

Actually, in my opinion, the contrary. There is a great need for this genre of work. Fun Home was a success.


Has this changed how producers perceive works by or about lesbians and/or queer women?

I think that is a terrific example demonstrating the need for this type of material.


Why should people support theater festivals?
Well, I think that it really depends on the Festival. Our mission is purely to help people and the Broadway community has been tremendous with its support. We have close to 30 Broadway Producers, Emmy winners, Tony winners, and industry leaders donating their time to ensure that these wonderful works see the stage. That to me is special. That to me is one of the reasons why we're into our fourth year. That to me is a wonderful example of leaders helping people who just want a chance.


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