Playwright Christy Hall (left) and director Frannie Shepherd-Bates sit on the set of “A Painted Window,” a world premiere play opening this week at Williamston Theatre.
Photo by Chris Purchis

While thousands prepared for the Women’s March on Lansing last week, Williamston Theatre was putting the finishing touches on “A Painted Window,” a world premiere play that puts the focus on two strong female leads.

New York-based playwright Christy Hall said she sees it as her responsibility to write compelling roles for women of all ages. “A Painted Window” is centered on two estranged sisters who struggle to reconcile, but the play also addresses issues of identity, class, race, age and consumerism.

“It started out as a love letter to Harlem, and then it evolved from there,” Hall said.

Director Frannie Shepherd-Bates said the play is unlike any play she’s seen, especially with the focus on older female leads.

“The characters in the play are all navigating their way through these challenging relationships with the world at large and circumstances that may or may not be in their control,” Shepherd-Bates said.

She believes plays like “A Painted Window” can get audiences to consider issues from a different perspective. Hall is excited to premiere the play in the intimacy of Williamston Theatre.

“It’s kind of like it’s a coming out party,” Hall said. “It legitimizes the piece in a very special way.”

Hall, who was raised in a small city in Oklahoma, developed her love for writing and creating at a young age. Her father, a writer, would read his own stories to her as a child. She took theater classes in high school and graduated from college with a degree in theater.

“It was really seeing people’s response to my work that made me realize that not everyone does this, and this is special,” Hall said.

Hall believes that plays are more than just entertainment, that they act like snapshots of the cultural landscape when they were written. And while the classic works of theater are important, Hall argues that creating new works and telling new stories can keep audiences engaged and prevent theater from becoming obsolete.

“We should always do Shakespeare, but it’s truly remarkable to see an audience sit down in their seats and not know how the story ends,” Hall said. “It’s incredible to see people’s faces and know that they truly had an experience that they’ve never had before.”

Hall emphasizes the importance of theaters that support new work, and she hopes the local theater community takes advantage of the opportunity to see a play before anyone else.

“Something is happening on the Williamston Theatre stage that is not happening anywhere in the entire world right now,” she said. “Come and experience a brand new piece of art that right now is exclusively available to this community.”

“A Painted Window”

Williamston Theatre
Jan. 26-Feb. 26
8 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday (no matinee Jan 28); 2 p.m. Sunday
Call or see web for ticket prices
122 Putnam St. Williamston
(517) 655-7469,