Short Notice

Theatre Unbound isn’t letting the Twin Cities stay in its comfort zone.

by Patrick Maloney

What: Girl Shorts: “Medea,” “The Judge’s Wife,” “Lost,” “The Obligatory Scene” and “Within”.

When: Feb. 23-March 3

Where: Lowry Lab Theater, 350 St. Peter St., St. Paul

Cost: $12-$42

Age: All ages

Even in the seemingly progressive world of the arts, the gender gap is anything but closed.

“We don’t see a lot of female playwrights being produced in the Twin Cities,” said theater producer Stacy Poirier.

The percent of plays put on nationally that have either female writers or directors is around 17 percent, according to Salon.

Enter Theatre Unbound.

Established in 1999 and running off its volunteers, Unbound only produces plays that are both written and directed by women.

“It shortens up the gender gap,” Poirier said. “By us doing our three or four shows a year that are created by women, it does make a dent.”

Now in its 13th season, Theatre Unbound is trying something new: Girl Shorts.

“Over the years, we’ve come across a lot of one-act plays, and they don’t get production very often,” Poirier said. “We thought a great way to show these works was to do a festival.”

Girl Shorts is bringing the members of Theatre Unbound together in more than one way. Unlike most shows put on by the company, the volunteers got a first crack at positions.

The festival lets the volunteers flex their creative muscles over a range of genres: Girl Shorts includes comedy, mystery, tragedy and a few surprises.

 “There’s a bit of everything,” said Kari Kelly, a member of Theatre Unbound since 2010.

Music by local female musicians Lingua Luna, Missing Peace and Courtney McLean of the Dirty Curls will complement the plays.

“People who support women’s theater and people who support women’s music sometimes don’t know about each other,” Poirier said. “It’s a great blending of the audiences.

 “Within,” the third play in the five-play festival, doesn’t have any words in it. Using only their movements, the performers tell a story of a traveler and her internal struggles.

“It’s about the dangers of getting too comfortable,” said Anne Bertram, director.

Kelly is a cast member in “Within,” and it is indeed a step out of her comfort zone. She plays one of the two characters that comprise an entity referred to by the cast as “the life force.”

“This one is a little different,” she said. “We’re taking a chance.”

Theatre Unbound is used to taking chances. Last season, they put on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar with an all-female cast.

“You have to be uncomfortable in order to grow,” Bertram said.