Whether it’s putting on a production about God going to therapy or premiering an adventure story complete with princesses, dragons, and pirates, Mildred’s Umbrella Theater Company always aims to empower female voices and stories.
So, when theater activism campaign #Enough: Plays to End Gun Violence, which promotes conversations on gun violence through its middle and high school playwriting competitions, approached Artistic Director Jennifer Decker about hosting a reading in Texas, she knew it was a perfect fit.
“I noticed that all the writers that had won the contest this year were girls, so I thought we’ll make this happen, even though we’re so busy,” says Decker. "The partnership with #Enough was a way to put the spotlight on some young playwrights that are female, which is, of course, our mission.”
When Mildred’s Umbrella hosts its online reading of the seven 10-minute plays on December 14—the eighth anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting—the Houston company will be one of more than 50 companies around the world doing the same with #Enough.
Started in 2019 by Chicago-based theater artist Michael Cotey, #Enough seeks to use teens’ works of theater to create a more meaningful dialogue and action-based change on the issue of gun violence. To make sure that the project had national reach, Cotey got familiar with theater companies around the nation. That’s when he came across Mildred’s Umbrella.
“I thought this was a very special pairing, specifically for this round of the project,” he says. “All these amazing voices and amazing perspectives were from female playwrights, and that just fit with the company’s mission. It felt like a great bet.”
Each of the selected plays addresses a different intersection of gun violence, whether it be race, gun culture, or police and school shootings. The winners were selected out of 184 submissions from 23 states and three countries by nationally recognized dramatists, including playwright Lauren Gunderson; Tony Award winner David Henry Hwang; and Academy Award winner Tarell Alvin McCraney.
While the upcoming reading is free, any donations that Mildred’s Umbrella receives in relation to the event will be given to Texas Gun Sense, an organization that advocates for “common sense, evidence-based policies to reduce gun injuries and deaths.”