Recommended by Heather Helinsky

  • The Dybbuk on Orchard
    9 Jan. 2023
    It's always a joy to encounter a play written in a specific genre---in this case 1930s noir---but centering queer characters and history. Playfully flirting with the play-within-a-play form as this Yiddish theatre company produces Twelfth Night, I enjoyed the heartwarming characters as they searched for love and a community space where they could be true to themselves. This is a play where the stakes are high for every character and tension and mischief abound.
  • Say Goodbye
    3 Jan. 2023
    This revenge play imaginatively blends a character from the historical Ravensbruck concentration camp with contemporary #metoo, with biblical allusions. I admire the farcical stylistic choices while asking tough questions about confronting your abuser. This play is a unique take on ethical questions surrounding justice for victims while also remaining playful and hitting horror-genre notes. Will Esthie ever find the right words to say to The Body? This play works through the question of "when do we ourselves become monsters?" in an individual's search of a way to heal from trauma.
  • All My Mothers Dream in Spanish: A Play with Drums
    2 Jan. 2023
    This was a compelling read about matrilineal ancestral power, seeking wisdom and magic (but not always finding answers). It's full of imagery around birth, revolution, fruit, birds, and homeland. The tough questions asked of the next generation, such as: "what do you want, to heal or seek power?" still sit with me. Told in a stylistically innovative way with highly poetic and rhythmic language, this multilingual play about intergenerational tensions should be read widely and produced.
  • When We Were gods
    19 Apr. 2020
    Sable Venus' epic & tragic journey from Mt. Olympus to the West Indies made this a compelling read. There were many contemporary themes, such as how it feels to be the only goddess of color in Zeus' white European Olympus, as well as the classical themes of gods transforming & interfering with human matters. The moment of Titan's betrayal really hit me, as well as the strong community of women Venus finds later in her journey. The love story with Venus & Athena is such a positive, healthy relationship, we need to see more of those stories staged too.
  • Stone Pebble Girls
    26 Mar. 2020
    This play grabbed me from the start with its characters that have stuck with me from reading it over a year ago. I really enjoyed the audience's relationship with Aika as she speaks to us of the New Mexico landscape around her and her family traumas. It's lyrical yet also realistic language makes it a really strong piece that I hope gets produced someday soon.
  • Predictor
    29 Sep. 2019
    This is a fascinating historical character, and this play brings her front and center to her contribution to history and women's health. This play helps us see her conflict between being a "good girl" in the world of Mad Men advertising, and the struggle to stand up for herself and take credit for her own ideas. The ensemble playing style not only creates the world of 1967, but keeps Meg Crane at the center, and gives her agency as she tells her story. Would love to see audience engagement events created for a production of this play!
  • Queen of the Water Lilies
    13 Sep. 2019
    I enjoy when a play teaches me about a part of history that I'm not aware of, and Helen is quite a force of nature as she protects her water lily farm and the neighborhood. A moment that really captured me is the complicated scene between Helen and Mariah's Aunt Mae, as both women navigate the swampy waterways of race, class, privilege, and community.
  • meet you at the Galaxy Diner.
    10 Sep. 2019
    Gina Femia's plays are always intersectional and focused on characters who are working through traumas, but are not without humor, nostalgia, and playfulness. Dialogue over a forgotten form of communication (AIM) is well-crafted, poetic, and full of juicy subtext as the characters try to connect across the universe. The nuanced, sometimes awkward stories these characters tell are raw, honest, and shine like stars. And the theatricality of different fantasy worlds provides delightful opportunities for staging. As our society struggles to tell stories about mental health, I absolutely trust Femia's strong, thought-provoking writing to help create important conversations with the audience.
  • Freaks of the Cosmic Circus
    10 Sep. 2019
    There are times when we think we know a historical person---but then a good playwright comes along and shines a light on a different perspective. Lojo has already done fascinating research in her role as the Laguna Beach Poet Laureate, and synthesized Williams' letters and journals to create this play. The imagery in this play was strong and compelling and I was absolutely along for the road trip. Place does shape who we are, and TW was transformed by it into the writer we know.
  • Daughter of God
    24 Aug. 2019
    Exploring what our purpose is in life/what we're put in this world to do, can be a weighty challenge for any writer, but Jovanovich writes about this with such joy, buoyancy, lightness, and humor. Jacqueline's faith and optimism in humanity---and the system of democracy---is heartening when it's easier to despair in the current political moment we live in on Earth. The relationship between gospel writer Matthew and Jacqueline in the library, as well as the love story between Ur and Jerah, are the heart & soul of the play.