Thursday, 19 November 2009

Not There Yet

The debate about the under-representation of women playwrights (and directors) on our better-funded stages continues.

This debate is an important onefor all of us, female and male, who care about access and equality. And it's also important that it doesn't end up focused solely on emerging writers and the establishment of training or mentoring programmes.

Because the problem for women writers and directors is not lack of training. It’s lack of opportunity, specifically the lack of certain kinds of opportunity.

Women writers and directors, at least in Sydney, are active and well-represented in community contexts and youth theatres, in co-ops and unfunded fringe ventures. But how do we/they move from back rooms and basements to better funded and supported productions? Not for a second suggesting that the only worthwhile contexts in which to make and present work are mainstage, but being able to work across the whole theatre ecology is important if you want to develop and sustain a viable career.

A Queensland colleague alerted us to this essay, Not There Yet by the American playwright Marsha Norman.

'Discussing the status of women in the theatre feels a little like debating global warming. I mean, why are we still having this discussion? According to a report issued seven years ago by the New York State Council on the Arts, 83 percent of produced plays are written by men—a statistic that, by all indications, remains unchanged. Nobody doubts that the North Pole is melting, either—we see it on the news. These are both looming disasters produced by lazy behavior that nobody bothered to stop. End of discussion. What we have to do in both cases is commit to change before it is too late.'

Click here to read the rest of this excellent piece.

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