Theatre Thoughts: Female Playwrights

Is 2016 the Year of the Female Playwright?

The Guardian recently asked this question, and the article has been retweeted dozens of times now, by practitioners, writers, and theatres. There have been a slew of similar articles throughout the 2015, and this coming year sees the inaugural 'RED Women's Playwriting Award'

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As a side note, I love that they are open to anyone who identifies as female. Beautifully worded.

Since a recent survey indicated that the majority of those who buy theatre tickets are women, then obviously it makes sense to have more female voices heard on the stage.

I wrote a while ago about how I found it strange that there were more female dancers than male, yet most of the top choreographers are men; women seem destined to dance, then teach, whereas men become the next generation of dance makers. The same applies for acting - drama and theatre training courses are, mostly, dominated by women, yet most of the top directors are men; women seem destined to act, then teach. There are obvious exceptions, I'm speaking in generalities.

I think it's just that it saddens me that having a season of plays written by women is deemed newsworthy, that it's something so out of the ordinary that it warrants press coverage. 

Arguing with myself here, I think it's wonderful that a women-only playwriting award, and theatre seasons comprised entirely of female writers are making the news, but I hope that in years to come, female playwrights will be so ingrained into the mechanism of theatre-making that we won't have to use the quantifier of 'female' to describe them.

The same goes for all aspects of theatre and performance - more top female directors, artistic directors, producers, choreographers. etc. 

I don't know whether the higher echelons of theatre roles are a closed shop for women, or whether it's simply a case of women not applying for those roles in the first place? As a woman I obviously want equality, however not at the expense of others: if I apply for a job and a man who is better qualified and more experienced than I gets the job, fine. If I apply for a job and a man who is less qualified and less experienced than I gets it, then I would kick off. But I would kick off if the second man was a woman. The best person for the job, in my opinion, regardless of gender or race.

Is it just that there are less women writing plays? Or are they less likely to submit their work to producing theatres? And I think this is the root of the problem; the solution to presenting more work by female playwrights is to find them first, then nurture and promote them, as the RED award is trying to do.

Oh this has all been a little bit of a rambling post. I have too many thoughts in my head and lack the ability to lay out all of my arguments in a coherent manner.


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