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GRL PWR! An Insider Interview with Thrown Stone

Ridgefield is home to many wonderful arts and culture organizations, and Thrown Stone Theatre Company is no exception. What began as a passion project has turned into a new theatrical  experience that moves, connects, and challenges all who join the conversation. 

Thrown Stone’s fifth season, GRL PWR, will feature two new plays about friendship, competition, and coming of age in today’s world. We sat down with one of the founders, Jonathan Winn, to talk about Thrown Stone Theatre Company and the upcoming season.

How did Thrown Stone Theatre Company come to be? 

Thrown Stone Theatre Company started in 2016 with myself and Jason Peck. Jason was teaching theatre and I was interested in getting back into theatre myself. We talked about where our passion for this project would be, and we both agreed to focus on new works. It’s incredibly risky for a new theatre company to produce plays that no one has ever heard of, but that was the allure for us. It brought a sense of adventure and the unexpected. 

We did a couple of readings in 2016 of plays that we liked at the library, and they were very well received. We realized there’s a true market here for work that is emotionally moving, opens the door to new ideas for people, and challenges the audience.

Jason Peck, Founder and Co-Artistic Director
Jonathan Winn, Founder and Co-Artistic Director

In the fall of 2016, Jason found a play called “Milk” by Ross Dunsmore at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and he said, “we have to do this.” We performed a reading of it at Town Hall and the response was overwhelming, so we put up the U.S. premiere in 2017 as our first production. The next year, we decided we wanted to offer a season, so we returned to Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance to do two plays on a rotating schedule that summer. And it took off from there! Ever since, we’ve offered the audience the opportunity to see both plays in a single day which is a really fun experience. The last few years have been a labor of love and we are now going into our 5th season.

What is unique about Thrown Stone?

You usually won’t find this kind of theatre in a small town. These are new plays and they are new conversations that are supposed to challenge people. With Thrown Stone, you can count on being pleasantly surprised. You’ll find a performance that will be intimate, spark conversation, and challenge you. We are trying to be the catalyst for meaningful conversation about what is happening in the world right now. That is why we chose GRL PWR as the theme for this season.

What was the impetus behind the GRL PWR selections this season?

We really wanted to honor the challenges that women and girls are still facing in society, and the topic is even more prescient since we chose the plays. There’s a million ways where women haven’t been seen or heard, and we really wanted them to put the spotlight on women and let them tell you a story in their own words on their own terms.

The GRL PWR season will feature two plays. Athena by Gracie Gardner is about two teenage fencers who are training for the Junior Olympics, and it’s a story about whether these two girls who compete against each other can also find common ground as they navigate adolescence. And Hysterical! by Elenna Stauffer follows a cheerleading squad that succumbs to a mysterious illness, testing the girls’ relationships, and examining their vulnerabilities and the poignancy of life on the cusp of adulthood.

View the schedule and get tickets

This season’s director is Tracy Brigden, a nationally renowned director with over 20 years of experience in theatre. We are very lucky to have her — she is a true visionary. It’s been an absolute joy to work with her, and she’s been a great coach for us as Artistic Directors as well. 

We also have an amazing and talented all-female cast starring Shannon Helene Barnes, Olivia Billings, Julia Crowley, Kendyl Grace Davis, Isa Muiño, Momo Burns-Min, and Sydney Yargeau. This is the first year that our repertory has been what we call “true repertory” meaning the three actors in Athena are also performing in Hysterical! – which is a real challenge for the actors. But they are exceptionally talented and this season promises to be a truly special experience.

GRL PWR Cast

Are tickets still available for Athena and Hysterical!

Yes, but filling up fast! The season kicks off with a preview of Athena on Thursday, July 14th and closes with Hysterical! on Saturday, August 6th. We encourage everyone to get their tickets soon.

View the schedule and get tickets

"Athena" by Gracie Gardner
"Hysterical!" by Elenna Stauffer

Tell us about the Women Entrepreneurs’ Happy Hour happening on July 23rd:

This year, we are happy to announce that we are hosting a Women Entrepreneurs’ Happy Hour on July 23rd at the Ancient Mariner, located just steps away from Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance. The event will feature a lively panel discussion with some of the most visionary entrepreneurs in Ridgefield. We are delighted that the Happy Hour will be facilitated by our friend, Lisa Scails, the Executive Director of the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut. We are hosting it on the first day that we are having both performances in one day so that the audience can mingle between shows. It’s going to be a fun, inspiring, and meaningful event. Anyone can register for free, so get your tickets soon!

Learn more about the Women Entrepreneurs’ Happy Hour

Women Entrepreneurs’ Happy Hour

Tell us about your New Connections Award and this year’s Mentoring Young Women theme.

We wanted to have a moment at the end of our opening nights where we recognize people who reflect the values that we aspire to. Each year, the award will focus on a distinct theme that harmonizes with our season, and this year’s theme is “Mentoring Young Women.” We couldn’t think of people more deserving of this award than Theresa Santoro, President and CEO of RVNAHealth, and Amy Piantaggini, Executive Director of Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance, as this year’s New Connections Award honorees. It’s our chance to recognize people in the community who have been incredible partners — and in their own work, reflect the values we aspire to.

We invite everyone to join us to celebrate these mentors! Melissa Woodhouse will present Ms. Santoro with her award on July 15th, after the performance of Athena. Nell Walton will present Ms. Piantaggini with her award on July 22nd, after the performance of Hysterical!. All ticket holders are invited to attend.

New Connections Award honorees

And how can individuals otherwise get involved with Thrown Stone Theatre Company?

We love to have the community be a part of our productions! We can always use volunteers for each season and we do have a sign up on our website. We also have sponsor packages available for individual donors or businesses that come with some great benefits.

In terms of internships, Thrown Stone is proud to partner with the SheWorks Internship Program through LiveGirl, a Connecticut-based nonprofit organization. Program Director Shamare Holmes partnered with Liz Shapiro, Director of Arts, Preservation and Museums of the Connecticut Office of the Arts and State Historic Preservation Office, to put funding in place for grants for arts and culture internships for women. Thrown Stone was one of five arts organizations to be chosen as SheWorks arts companies and we are thrilled to provide a paid internship experience to our interns.

 

A special thank you to Jonathan Winn for taking the time to speak with us. We are looking forward to Thrown Stone’s upcoming season! Get your tickets

Thrown Stone Theatre Company’s mission is to engage our region with new and reimagined theatre in intimate settings, creating a body of work that moves, connects, and challenges all who join the conversation. Learn more at: thrownstone.org

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