For the last four years, the final Saturday of Women’s History Month has marked SWAN Day, in which women artists come out in full force to take over Georgetown. Intended to encourage the growth and integration of women’s art, SWAN (Support Women Artists Now) Day began in 2008 and has become an international festival. According to Catherine Aselford, artistic director at Georgetown Theatre Company, which is co- hosting this year’s SWAN Day with Women in Film and Video, the local offerings are growing in scope every year.
“This is the first year we’ve had a band,” she says. Indie-rock outfit Not My Sister (shown), composed of South Asian women, will play the fest’s opening reception at Baked and Wired at 8 p.m. tonight.
Packing the program with a diverse and quality lineup has become Aselford’s focus. Such diversity is key to the SWAN Day mission, and to WomenArts, the coordinating organization. To that end, Saturday’s schedule boasts over 100 artists and features presentations by storytellers, poets, visual artists, dancers, playwrights, and filmmakers.
Back in 2008, while preparing for the first DC SWAN Day, Aselford simply solicited contributions from playwrights she knew—-with mixed results. Three years ago, Georgetown Theatre Company began accepting submissions from women playwrights from all over the country for the Staged Reading Marathon, which Aselford says is the biggest and most involved component of the SWAN Day lineup. Out of 56 submissions, 13 were chosen for the marathon by a panel of readers. Each reading is directed by D.C.-based women directors.
Experts were tasked with selecting material from each genre. “Everybody comes together,” says Aselford of both the process and the day itself. This year’s selections, she says, are “all high quality because they’re all being vetted now. They weren’t necessarily being vetted in 2008. So all the plays go through a process of being screened and Women in Film and Video are using a set of films that have already received awards.”
D.C. SWAN day takes place all day Saturday. View a complete program of events at georgetowntheatre.org. All events are free.