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Women's Theatre Project shuts down

Direct22 LASHER TROP CLWSouth Florida has lost and gained a number of theater companies since the 2006 shutdown of Miami's historic Coconut Grove Playhouse.  Today brings another loss.

The Women's Theatre Project, incorporated in 2002 as a not-for-profit company devoted to presenting work by women playwrights, has now folded.  President and artistic director Genie Croft made a statement reflecting on the company's accomplishments and announcing its closure.

Croft wrote, in part: "The Women's Theatre Project was fueled by the desires of professional women in theatre, who were drawn to the concept of creating a cultural profile of a diverse female voice on stage. Our choices broke with stereotypical portrayals 0408212212

of women propelled by the media, and we created theatrical opportunities for women of all shapes, ages and races. Our 33 main stage productions, numerous staged readings, and the creation of Girl Play allowed our audiences to encounter the full spectrum of our artistic vision...Our audiences have followed us to our five different homes in three different counties, and now we are concluding our theatrical run. Since our inception, we have solicited and received hundreds of scripts from playwrights locally, nationally and worldwide, allowing us to produce southeastern and world premieres of new and impactful plays, utilizing the skills of South Florida's finest talents." 

During the majority its run, the company focused on plays with all-female casts, giving work to some of the region's best performers, including Carbonell Award winners Lela Elam, Angie Radosh and Karen Stephens.  Under Croft and fellow founder Meredith Lasher, Women's Theatre Project served general audiences, women eager to see their lives reflected onstage and, via its annual Girl Play festival, the lesbian community.

Funding, always an issue for smaller companies, and the troupe's many moves (its last, in 2012, was to a shared space at the Willow Theatre in Boca Raton's Sugar Sand Park) were factors in the shutdown. 

Croft said by phone late Monday, "Once we moved to the Willow, we could do only two shows a year, so we went from being a company with a mission to a company putting on shows.  We feel we accomplished our mission.  It was time to move on. We have no debt, we never burned anybody, and we left a legacy.  We opened doors for all these playwrights."

This loss, like others including Mosaic Theatre and The Promethean Theatre, is something to be mourned.

(Top photo shows Genie Croft and Meredith Lasher; bottom is from 2004's 'Necessary Targets')