Austin Girls Create Radical Change in the Entertainment Industry

Girl Improved: Write. Produce. Direct. Improve. | Pictured (clockwise, top left): Liliana Sweeten, Grayce Fischer, Zia Kinzy, Lisi Sweeten

Girl Improved: Write. Produce. Direct. Improve. | Pictured (clockwise, top left): Liliana Sweeten, Grayce Fischer, Zia Kinzy, Lisi Sweeten

| Misrepresented and underrepresented; four Austin girls spur change in the entertainment industry with a DIY approach to creating new plays. |

AUSTIN, Texas – June 16, 2015 – Write? Produce? Direct? Girls don’t do that. Undeterred by recent statistics in the entertainment industry, four Austin girls are creating radical change; devising, directing and producing new works from a girl’s POV. Two one-acts written by 11 year old, Zia Kinzy, and 13 year old, Grayce Fischer, premiere at Ground Floor Theatre this July. Directed by sisters, Lisi (11) and Liliana (13) Sweeten, “Bad Spies” and “Jaded” launch the Girl Improved Project. Not your standard fare, the girls vow to create works that: 1) Contain at least 50% female characters, 2) with clear-cut goals not centered around romance, 3) who are multidimensional.

Producing a play is no easy task. To share the labor and utilize all their talents, the girls have formed a Producers Collective and are producing the shows together. Luckily, they have the help of local industry professionals. “I’m inspired by Girl Improved; these young women are learning the skills to take control of their artistic voice and therefore, their artistic destiny,” says directing mentor, Katherine Wilkinson of Gale Theatre Company. Operating on a shoestring budget, they’re also fortunate to receive the support of Rude Mechs, Mosaic Children’s Theatre and Ground Floor Theatre for rehearsal space.

The four girls spent six months writing four separate plays. Advised by writing pros and each other, the girls went through a vigorous revision process. After a reading, they opted to stage the two one-acts for their first production. Both plays center around female adolescent protagonists, of course. The real-life female-centered Ground Floor Theatre duo, Lisa Scheps and Patti Neff are inspired by the new voices: “Filled with physical humor, witty banter and female camaraderie, we rarely see girls as the hero in this type of comic book mystery show,” Lisa states of “Bad Spies.” Plus, there’s a dog. “‘Jaded’ is a fun murder-mystery with a ghostly twist. It reminds me of the kinds of stories I used to write at that age,” horror aficionado, Patti, adds.

The trial by fire approach is not without it’s ups and downs. The novice directors are experiencing a number of hurdles, including the most unexpected challenge of finding adult actors for their plays. Undiscouraged, the girls corralled their parents, turning the experience into a family affair. For after all, “The show must go on!”

Mentored by industry professionals, Girl Improved, an ImprovEd Shakespeare Project, teaches adolescent girls the skills needed to craft radical and original stories, creating opportunities for fair and positive representation of girls in the entertainment industry. See Girl Improved’s “Bad Spies” and “Jaded” at the Ground Floor Theatre, 979 Springdale Rd, July 9-18, Thurs-Sat, 7pm; Sun, 2pm. Tickets: