Happy International Women's Day!
This is an adamantly non-political blog, inasmuch as its non-personal, non-celebrity, non-fashion, and, in fact, non-anything except theatre. Still, it's also Blog Against Sexism day, and boy, do I have some theatre/sexism stuff to blog about.
Read it and weep.
This 2002 study is the best and most complete information available online, and it's heartbreaking. For that year, female directors were in charge of just 16% of productions. Female playwrights wrote just 17% (A whopping 18% if you cut out Shakespeare!) A 2005 study conducted jointly by the Women Arts Project in New York City and Theatre Communications Group came up with even worse figures. And if you think that isn't current enough, go get your local theatre listings and count. Good luck breaking 30%.
And stop sputtering. According to the TCG study, 52% of mfa students are female, not to mention 60% of the play-going population. Either women are bad writers, or something stinks. Some have tried to deny the problem by ignoring the numbers, but these stats are cold and hard and brutal.
My question is, what the heck are you doing about it? The problem is real, and pervasive, even in my beloved Chicago. If you are not actively reaching out to female playwrights and directors, you are part of the problem. A lot of companies need to take a long look at their seasons, past and present. Not because it's PC (who cares?), not because it will get you more grants (it won't!), or even because it is morally right (it is!) but because it's bad art. As Time Out Chicago pointed out in its excellent article on race in theatre, the big old-boy network is made up of a series of aging young-boy networks. Now is the time to change, or we're going to end up with an increasingly loud cacophony of the same voice.
I would enthusiastically welcome any comments, and any debate on this post. I mean it. These stats make me feel grouchy and I'm spoiling for a fight.