The Weird Sisters Theatre Project is responsible for such quirky, female-driven local productions as Anton in Show Business, 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, and Hot Pink, or Ready to Blow. When the original team behind Weird Sisters — Kelly Criss, Veronika Duerr, Jaclyn Hofmann, Tiffany Porter and Megan Rose-Houchins — decided to step down, they passed the artistic torch to a new set of sisters.
Veteran Atlanta actress Rachel Frawley is part of the second team, which, after staging Enchanted April in July, closes its season with Stefanie Zadravec’s The Electric Baby September 14–30 at 7 Stages. Frawley recently gave ArtsATL the skinny on the new faces of the group and the upcoming show.
ArtsATL: What can you tell us about Weird Sisters Theatre Project?
Rachel Frawley: Weird Sisters was founded in 2012. The original group had done a show together before they called themselves that. They all had ties to Shakespeare Tavern, and they wanted to work with other dynamic female artists that they never got a chance to be in a scene with because of the lack of women’s roles in Shakespeare. They grew it from there.
The second group got together in 2016 and started the following summer with a team of five. This season we are four. One member decided she wanted to focus more on her solo career. The other members are Kate Donadio MacQueen, Julie Skrzypek and Shelli Delgado. Kate directed Enchanted, and Julie is manning our reading series. Shelli acted in Enchanted, and I am the lead producer of The Electric Baby. We have a tag team when it comes to responsibilities. Right now, we all take turns directing, acting and marketing. We all dip into different roles. It all depends on the show.
ArtsATL: How was the transition?
Frawley: The original team went through a vetting process and came up with some candidates they thought might take on the job. They reached out to the five of us and asked if we would be interested. We all were and came aboard. The idea is to create a relay system so that we are constantly creating new opportunities for emerging female producers and directors and designers. We all sign on to a two-year contract with the option to renew after one year. At the end of the two years, then we will reassess if we want to stay on or if we want to introduce an entire new team.
ArtsATL: What made you want to be a Sister?
Frawley: I am an actor, and I started working with the Sisters in that capacity. I cared about the people and the work they were doing. I thought it was creating a platform for women to work together. It’s theater created for women — for everyone. I liked the direction of the company. It felt like a very inclusive place and a place where passion projects were cultivated, a place that was constantly reinventing itself. That is what interested me and why I came aboard.
ArtsATL: What can you tell us about the upcoming show?
Frawley: The Electric Baby is a beautiful, surreal script that merges together folklore and folktales and magic with the very raw edges of urban reality. It’s about a bunch of strangers brought together by the tragedy of a car crash at the beginning of the show and how they weave their lives through the narrative of folklore and this magical dying baby that they encounter. It helps them reassess, heal and move forward.
ArtsATL: Are women’s roles still hard to come by in theater?
Frawley: Yes and no. I would say that in a lot of what is being produced in the mainstream nationwide, it is more difficult to find female roles that work together. It is hard to find a scene with two dynamic fully formed female characters talking to each other where one is not the mother or the girlfriend or a stereotype. But I do think it is changing. I think Atlanta theater is conscious of developing not just work for women, but works that are more inclusive of intersectional feminism, off the gender binary, and LGBT voices forward. I think we are slowly starting to incorporate a more diverse set of voices, but there is a really long way to go.