Louisville’s Looking for Lilith Theatre Company celebrates a decade of productions with a staged reading of a new play, “Becoming Mothers,” and a revue of old favorites titled “10 Years, 7 Stories.” The shows open Thursday and run in repertory at The Bard’s Town through June 10.
Looking for Lilith is a feminist theater ensemble that uses a collaborative process to create original plays based on women’s stories and women’s perspectives on history. The company built their new play “Becoming Mothers” by conducting interviews with several generations of local women on topics surrounding pregnancy, birth and motherhood, from fertility treatments to changes in consumer culture throughout the years.
Company member Jennifer Thalman Kepler, who directed the play-building process for “Becoming Mothers,” says it’s important to the company to feature as many women’s voices as possible in their plays.
“Over the years as we’ve interviewed women we’ve heard them say why do you want my story? I haven’t done anything interesting,” says Kepler, who will direct the reading. “Then they come see this play that was created based on their story and they see something beautiful made out of their story and that’s very empowering for them and for us.”
Kepler says the company avoids the traditional single-playwright approach in order to infuse their original productions with what she calls “the feminine spirit.”
“The important philosophy that underlies all of our pieces when we approach them is the idea of trying to get as many perspectives on the topic as we can find,” she says. “There is not a woman’s perspective, there are women’s perspectives, and we wan to find as many of those perspectives as we can when we’re looking at a topic or a time period.”
That process has helped Looking for Lilith build seven original plays over the last ten years. Selections from those plays will be compiled in “10 Years, 7 Stories,” including “Class of ’70,” about women who graduated college at the height of the second-wave feminist movement, and “Fabric, Flames, and Fervor,” which explores the individual, societal and political impact of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York City, which killed 146 people, most of whom were women factory workers.
Kepler says motherhood metaphor applies to the company and that decade of original work, too.
“We’re at a point where we’ve started helping some other small companies and nonprofits and we feel like we’ve come into our own. We’re no longer the baby, we’re in a place to foster growth like a mother would,” she says.