The African Women Playwrights Network (awpn.org) was launched in 2015 after receiving funding from UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The digital community was designed to be a online pan African community which allowed female practitioners involved in creating oral and/or physical performances and playwriting to come together to share their creative practices with one another as well as engage with researchers. Beyond the
playwrights themselves,the platform was designed to engage potential audiences, directors, funders and artistic managers and programmers in all parts of the world.
Yvette Hutchison is the prinicipal investigator and Amy Jeptha the co-investigator set this project up in 2015. JC Niala has since stepped in as the Research and Communications Manager and Amy continues to be affiliated with the project.
Women working in the arts anywhere often face issues of marginalization and discrimination, including the difficulty of coming to voice and making one's voice heard in a male-dominated world. Such challenges in Africa are compounded by the historical barriers inherited through colonialism, which can often inhibit the free flow of ideas across geography and nations.
Social media provides a powerful tool for forming community, connections, and collaborations. The African Women' Playwrights Network leverages this power in exciting and ground-breaking ways. This community transcends national boundaries and provides real-time opportunities for female creative practitioners to form bonds, discover opportunities, and amplify the impact and volume of their artistic work." Prof Catherine Cole, University of Washington
The African Women Playwrights Network project facilitates research, debate and encourages the dissemination of creative practice produced by female creative practitioners living in Africa.
- To enable the African women practitioners to disseminate their work more widely and thus become more visible to theatre or festival programmers, educators, and others.
- To enable creative practitioners to connect with one another and so share good practice.
- To enable professional theatre makers (directors, writers), organisations and researchers to access African women practitioners so that they can better understand the work, choices and new developments these artists are exploring; and to explore the implications of artists' creative practices with them, particularly with regard to developing wider awareness of contemporary gender issues specific to various African contexts.