Highlights of our History
The Pleaides Theatre Company was created by core members of Boat House Troupe which existed from 1990-95. This group aggressively searched for additional artists, a new mission, and a new name. Preliminary meetings demonstrated an interest in creating opportunities for women artists in theatre. Thus the Pleiades (Seven Sisters) Theatre Company was born and, in October of 1995, the charter Board of Directors convened for the first time: Megan Burnett, President; Charlotte Hammett, Vice-President; Emily Gnadinger, Treasurer; and Trish Salerno, Secretary. Additional board members were sought from the community with consideration of inclusion and diversity as well as attracting those women and men who were committed to the mission and aesthetic of The Pleaides Theatre Company. Pleiades also has an Advisory Board whose representation includes women active in theatre nationally together with local community advocates.
The first production of The Pleaides Theatre Company was a staged reading of Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Person of Szechwan, performed as a fund-raiser in the fall of 1996, at The Rudyard Kipling in Old Louisville.
The 1997-98 season also saw the beginning of a new program. Fulfilling The Pleaides’ mission of giving more opportunities to a variety of women artists, the Stars of the Future New Play Festival was instituted. The Festival presented full productions of new works through 2001. At that time the program was re-evaluated, and since then the Stars of the Future New Play Project has focused on presenting staged readings of new works.
In March, 1999, a new venture, the Kentucky Women Project, was begun. A series of 23 two-minute radio vignettes aired, during Women’s History Month, on Public Radio Partnership station WFPL 89.3FM. The vignettes were adapted from the book Kentucky Women, by Louisville author Eugenia K. Potter, celebrating the lives of women throughout Kentucky’s 200-year history. Additional vignettes were produced in 2001.
The Pleiades Theatre Company, in keeping with its intergenerational mission, has instituted an intern program focused on young women in high school with a demonstrated interest in the production areas of the theatre. For each mainstage production, young women are involved in the technical side of the production under the guidance of a professional mentor.
The Our New Commonwealth: The Immigrant Women Project was a partnership between the Pleiades and Louisville writer and educator Peggy Cummins in 2002. Five 10-minute plays explored the experiences of women who have immigrated to the Louisville area. The plays toured to a variety of venues throughout the region.
In 2003 Pleiades received its first ever National Endowment for the Arts grant, for an original production, Alice Moments: Echoes, Ripples, and Light, a collaboratively-conceived project honoring five women from Kentucky, which involved artists from across the Commonwealth.
In October, 2003, Pleiades Theatre Company conducted a Workshop for Women Directors. Facilitated by four nationally known women directors and funded by the Kentucky Foundation for Women and co-sponsored by the University of Louisville Women’s Center, this workshop was attended by 50 women from throughout the region.
The Salute to Seven Sisters, begun in 2004, is an annual salute to women in the Kentuckiana area who have made a significant contribution to the arts and cultural life of our community. Seven Sisters is held each March, as part of the Pleiades’ recognition of Women’s History Month.