BOISE, Idaho — The Boise Contemporary Theater (BCT) is making a concerted effort to expand its horizons for the third-straight year with the annual BIPOC Playwrights Festival.
Celebrating and offering opportunity to Black, Indigenous and people of color, the festival creates a week-long process for chosen applicants to develop their play alongside actors, directors and other necessary hands-on deck.
"[Other theaters] don't give me a chance to develop my play. So, [BCT] invited me and I came running," playwright LaDarrion Williams said. "There's a lot of poetry in the mundane, if you will, and the way we speak. Our food, our culture and Christianity has influenced a lot of our way of life. So, I really love to see that on stages."
Williams grew up in Alabama. His play, "Bridging the Gap" confronts the history of cultural appropriation's negative impacts on Black artists and performers.
"It gives value because they feel seen," Williams said. "Everybody wants to feel see, be heard and be protected."
The other chosen playwright, Novid Parsi, is polishing his script to "The Life You Gave Me." The play details a difficult relationship between a boy and his mother.
"There is a certain added layer to that as a Middle Eastern writer for sure," Parsi said. "If there's a play or a story about domestic violence, and it's a white family, we just see that as a story about domestic violence. If it's a play about a Middle Eastern family and it deals with domestic violence, that same topic, that violence is seen in a very racialized ethnic lens."
BCT created the festival in 2021 after earning a $30,000 grant. BCT aims to grow the program to take in up to 10 playwrights a year, according to Producing Artists Director Ben Burdick.
"When we are able to do that and listen and watch those stories, that's when empathy comes into play," Burdick said. "We think a little more empathy and understanding wouldn't be a bad thing in the world."
Tickets are on sale now and available online. Shows are performed on Friday and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
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