Magic Time!: Blown Away by a Bible Story Midway Through the Women’s Voices Theater Festival

To date I have been to 20 productions and one staged reading that are officially in DC’s Women’s Voices Theater Festival (11 of which I have written about for DCMetroTheaterArts), and I am booked to see 7 more.

Yeah, I’m kinda on a marathon.

Dane Figueroa Edidi.
Dane Figueroa Edidi.

Monday night, as it happens, I attended a staged reading at Anacostia Playhouse of a new play called Absolom. And I thought to myself after: Wow, this play belongs in the next Women’s Voices Theater Festival. It was written by Dane Figueroa Edidi and presented as part of Theater Alliance’s Hothouse Reading Series. And it blew me away.


Absolom jumps off from the Biblical story of Absolom, who, when his sister Tamar was raped, killed her rapist. What Edidi has done with that core narrative is reimagine/reconceive it as a profoundly pro-woman epic. The plot is almost Shakespearean in its sweep. And the playwright has given her characters voice in some of the most powerful and moving poetry I can recall hearing in a contemporary drama.

And here’s the kicker:

When I think about Absolom alongside all the other new plays by women I’ve seen in this amazing festival, it would rank at the very top of my list in terms of being unabashedly feminist in its explicit opposition to misogyny.


King Louis, Kelly Armstrong, Venus Selenite, Jade Jones, Dane Figueroa Edidi, Jared Shamberger, Ryan Jamaal Swain, and Nate Shelton.
King Louis, Kelly Armstrong, Venus Selenite, Jade Jones, Dane Figueroa Edidi, Jared Shamberger, Ryan Jamaal Swain, and Nate Shelton. Photo by  Lourdes Ashley Hunter.

Absolom by Dane Figueroa Edidi was read at The Anacostia Playhouse October 12, 2015, directed by Jared Shanberger and featuring JJ Johnson (David), Jade Jones (Tamar), Edward Daniels (Joab), Kelly Armstrong (Bathsheba), Ryan Swain (Absolom), Louis Davis (Amnon, then Ahithophel), Nate Shelton (Solomon), Venus Selenite (Hushai, later Abigal), Jeremy Hunter (Zadok), and Tomascena Nelson (Amina, the Maachah), with stage directions read by Erin Syring.

Two more plays will be read in the 2015 Theater Alliance Hothouse New Play Reading Series at the Anacostia Playhouse – 2020 Shannon Place SE, in Washington, DC 20020: Western & 96th by Kitty Felde on October 19th at 8:00 PM and We R Punk Rock by Chinita L. Anderson on October 26th at 8:00 PM.

Admission is free but reservations are recommended and may be made online.

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John Stoltenberg
John Stoltenberg is executive editor of DC Theater Arts. He writes both reviews and his Magic Time! column, which he named after that magical moment between life and art just before a show begins. In it, he explores how art makes sense of life—and vice versa—as he reflects on meanings that matter in the theater he sees. Decades ago, in college, John began writing, producing, directing, and acting in plays. He continued through grad school—earning an M.F.A. in theater arts from Columbia University School of the Arts—then lucked into a job as writer-in-residence and administrative director with the influential experimental theater company The Open Theatre, whose legendary artistic director was Joseph Chaikin. Meanwhile, his own plays were produced off-off-Broadway, and he won a New York State Arts Council grant to write plays. Then John’s life changed course: He turned to writing nonfiction essays, articles, and books and had a distinguished career as a magazine editor. But he kept going to the theater, the art form that for him has always been the most transcendent and transporting and best illuminates the acts and ethics that connect us. He tweets at @JohnStoltenberg. Member, American Theatre Critics Association.


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