Putting women playwrights in the spotlight

And Toto too Theatre Company returns with ‘Fractured Moonlight’

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Susan Lyles loves to see a play come to life.

Everything about it — “from the page to the stage,” she said.

Lyles is the executive director of the And Toto too Theatre Company, which is a nonprofit that formed in 2005 to promote women artists and playwrights.

Typically, And Toto too stays busy year-round. Each year, it puts on two full-length productions, four or five small-venue staged readings, its annual Play Crawl and a workshop with an artist in residence.

“I’ve missed it,” Lyles said of producing plays. She added that And Toto too “sat dark” since spring 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But now, the theater company is back with “Fractured Moonlight,” a full-length, original play by Denver playwright Carrie Printz.

“People are excited to see live theater again,” Printz said. “A play isn’t quite complete until it’s performed in front of an audience. Because that’s who you’re writing for — the audience.”

Putting on “Fractured Moonlight” at this time is particularly exciting for a few different reasons, Lyles and Printz said. First, its world premiere has been postponed since April 2020 because of the pandemic, which additionally delayed And Toto too’s 15th season. Secondly, all the actors performing in this run of “Fractured Moonlight” are the original cast, and all are local to the Denver-metro area. Lastly, “Fractured Moonlight” takes place in a nontraditional theater space — outdoors.

“It’s exciting to get back up on our feet,” Lyles said.

She added that And Toto too does important work of spearheading the productions of new works by women playwrights from across the globe at national and international venues.

“Women are grossly underrepresented in the industry,” Lyles said. “Only about 28% of plays written by women are produced.”

Locally, audiences enjoy the plays that And Toto too puts on because they are something they’ve never seen before, Lyles said.

“Fractured Moonlight” is a dramedy about a fractured family struggling to connect. It tells the story of Max, a former war reporter/correspondent who was injured on the job. He shows up unexpectedly at the coastal Florida home of his semi-estranged ex-wife, Shelley, and teenage daughter, Zelda.

More: Meet the cast of "Fractured Moonlight"

Printz, of southeast Denver, is a former journalist and has always enjoyed writing, particularly fiction. She has been writing plays for about 13 years and has taught playwriting at the University of Denver. She describes theater as a “beautiful art form.”

Printz believes “Fractured Moonlight” will appeal to a wide audience. Not only because of the family dynamics represented in the play, but also because it will hopefully inspire people to think about how they — or others — cope with hardships, Printz said.

“We all have challenges in life,” Printz said. “We do better when we have people to lean on during those times.”

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