Sunday, March 18, 2007

Our man in London

Well, near London. Entirely tolerable member of the patriarchy Matt Board ran the numbers on last week's London theatre gender representation, with some fascinating results! appended:

So the tallies are in! There is quite good news and very bad news. Hold on
to your lunch.

First, the good news:

I'm pleased to say that Off-West End has done us proud. Out of 55 straight
plays currently running (discounting one musical and two Shakespeares), 30
were written by men and 25 by women. That's 45%. The female playwrights
run the gamut from complete unknowns through to Caryl Churchill. All told,
that's not bad. (The one musical was by men, btw.)

Incidentally, there were also 33 male directors and 25 female directors
(43%). The female directors were predominantly doing shows by female

Second, the bad news:

The West End is exactly the reverse. Out of 24 straight plays currently
running (discounting 20 musicals and 1 Shakespeare), only 2 of them were
written by women. One of them was "The Woman In Black", which is credited
to novelist Susan Hill but is actually just adapted from her novel by a guy,
so perhaps we shouldn't count that. And the other was Agatha Christie's
"The Mousetrap", which has been running since the Flood. So there you have
it - one mothball-ridden Agatha Christie play makes up the West End's entire
female playwright contigent, a delightful 4% of what they have to offer.

Of the 20 musicals, 4 (20%) had female writers. They were all
book-writers - no female lyricists or composers. Out of all 45 shows
currently playing the West End (24 plays + 20 musicals + 1 Shakespeare),
only 6 of them have any female contribution. That's 13%.

When it comes to West End directors, 35 of them were men and 10 were women -
that's 22%. (And several of those were your Julie Taymores - directors of
shows which have been imported and running for yonks now.)

So what's the grand total? Out of the 103 shows currently playing in
London, 31 of them were written by women. That's 30%. And all bar one (who
just happens to be Britain's best loved crime novelist, and whose production
is older than most people living in London) have their work Off-West End,
not West End.

What's the upshot? In short, you should come back to the UK - you can get
your play on Off-West End. But that's where you'll stay, sister.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good words.

5:43 PM  

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