Women’s history is not the only thing Brooklyn-based writer Mya Kagan wanted the world to celebrate this March. She believes we should honor the past while cultivating our future, which is why she created The Future is Female, a film festival across America and Canada that showcases talents by women of all different backgrounds. Kagan thought it was time for women’s roles in theater to be championed, not just evaluated; The Future is Female does exactly that.
Mya Kagan is the creator and writer of Submitting Like a Man (SLAM), a viral blog in which she resubmits previously denied work under a man’s name. As a “man,” Kagan has seen that her and her work are treated with an automatic assumption of authority and prowess, the type of credit that, we, as women, often have to fight to be given. The Future is Female is a spinoff of the work Kagan is doing with SLAM as she aspires to further the voice and visibility of women from all backgrounds in new ways. She calls The Future is Female “an amazing, more-than-I-ever-could’ve-dreamed-of, fierce, loud, unstoppable festival of new work.”
Women are 51 percent of the population but only make up about 20 percent of produced work in theater and TV. The Future is Female is a product of Kagan’s belief that the best way to create change is to do it yourself! Though it was not easy, Kagan succeeded in her venture of increasing exposure of female artists, and throughout the past month, 27 outposts have hosted 140 female artists in 18 different cities, including Chicago, Miami, New York City, and Los Angeles.
In addition to the 27 official outposts, anyone was permitted to create a “pop-up” outpost for people to get involved if a scheduled event was not taking place near them. This made it possible to spread the message of The Future is Female by simply discussing plays over a bottle of wine with friends. Kagan believes that the festival reached over 2,000 audience members, but “pop-up” outposts could have boosted that number. The money raised from ticket sales mostly benefited charity, but some events did not cost participants a thing!
Each play only lasted up to 10 minutes and focused on different ideas of what a “female future” means or looks like. What made this festival so intriguing is that it featured award-winning playwrights as well as college-level and teen writers across the country. Having high school-level students perform in The Future is Female was an excellent way to highlight the theme. Their voices are the least recognized, but perhaps the most important, because these women are the future.
The saying “The Future is Female” that Kagan adopted was originally made into a t-shirt for Labyris Books, the first women’s bookstore in New York City. A photo was taken in 1975 of a woman wearing the shirt, which resurfaced in 2015 on social media sites. Since then, women everywhere are proudly sporting similar apparel, including Cara Delevingne and Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent. However, Mya Kagan has undeniably made her own mark using the slogan, and helped assure that we do foresee a future that is female.
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