038: Managing Director Johannah Maynard Edwards advocates for inclusion, develops structures for growth, and turns problems into solutions

“Doing the work saves me.”  What does it mean to be included, supported, and welcomed into creative work? In the midst of producing for Women’s Theatre Festival and on-boarding as Managing Director, Johannah Maynard Edwards sought diagnosis and relief from what she discovered was a rare auto-immune disorder. As the parent of an autistic child, Johannah is an outspoken advocate for inclusion in the arts and connecting new communities and audiences to the theatre. She is passionate about implementing structure and systems for the Women’s Theatre Festival to ensure sustainability and growth. Johannah is a powerhouse of inspiration and she gets it done.

Based in Raleigh NC and founded in 2016, the Women’s Theatre Festival creates, produces, and promotes extraordinary theatre by women thru their summer festival. The WTF is happening now and will wrap up in early August. 

Johannah Maynard Edwards is the Managing Director of the Women’s Theatre Festival and a graduate of NYU Tisch School Of The Arts. She brings her experience from a career in the arts as an administrator, educator, director, designer, writer, and performer. She has helped to start several non-profits including Pie Theatre Company which she started with her college roommate while still in school, and  is a former Burning Coal company member where she helped innovate the Lab program for playwrights and directors. She teaches at Raleigh Little Theatre and has self-produced her original and devised works in NYC, Minneapolis, and here in Raleigh. As a mother of an autistic child, Johannah has become an outspoken advocate for inclusion in the arts and plans to work tirelessly to help make WTF the most inclusive organization possible. She is passionate about connecting new communities and audiences to the theatre.

This episode is brought to you by the Soapboxers, the official patrons of the Artist Soapbox. If you like these episodes and want more, get on the Soapbox! Podcast recorded at Shadowbox Studio in Durham, NC.

ASBX episodes mentioned:

037: Director Michele Okoh brings the heroes of ECLIPSED to the stage as part of the Women’s Theatre Festival

031: Festival Production Manager for the Women’s Theatre Festival, Katy Koop, keeps it all on track

Time break-down:

[0:00] Episode intro and bio for Johannah Maynard Edwards and the Women’s Theatre Festival

[2:38] Johannah’s connection to North Carolina

[4:00] Discovering WTF and becoming Managing Director

[9:00] The onset of Johannah’s symptoms and the effect of her health challenges on her work as producer and Managing Director of Women’s Theatre Festival. “Doing the work saves me.”

[17:14] What structures were put into place to support Johannah and WTF? “We want all women.”

[21:25] Sustainability and Structure. Creating a company that lasts. Intentionally putting workflow and training in place.

[28:30] What does a Managing Director do? “Keeping everyone in the boat.” Also, kittens!

[34:17] Engaging and welcoming the full spectrum of community. Relaxed performances and obvious invitations. Radical empathy on stage and off.

[43:40] How do we support each other in the theatre community when individuals are in crisis or facing setbacks? What kinds of support would Johannah most like to see extended?

[49:12] Thank you and sign-off

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