Monday, 9 July 2012

The 7-On Push for Female Playwrights post by Catherine Zimdahl

There is so much to be done when one is a working artist. Firstly the need to carve out the solitude to research and create.  I don’t get much time so every moment counts. Happily I have a number of projects I am in the midst of creating both as a playwright and visual artist and I can go from one to the other when I need my unconscious to do some problem solving. Tomorrow I’m in at the ABC with a new 50-minute radio-play (Producer: Anna Messariti) it’s a reading to get it up to speed for production. I enjoy this process, because the work starts to come to life and questions are raised and creative solutions are often found. And with this particular progeny it will be adapted both as a stage play and film script but sadly will not be turned into the greatest art form of them all – a tweet!

There is also one of the more difficult aspects to be done - the act of self-promotion, something I’m trying to be more focussed about. My own website is coming, my agent RGM and Associates are updating their website with my new plays and there is also the much beloved Australian Script Centre which is constantly finding new pathways for Australian plays.

And finally there is the political world of the arts that needs to be attended to even if you are not much of political animal yourself. Last year was a big year for addressing the woeful situation of Women Playwrights in this country. Women across the country spoke out furiously, persuasively and continue now to speak out (see Ned’s great blog). In early 2011 Verity Laughton and myself representing 7-ON met with Lyn Wallis of the Theatre Board of the Australia Council. Verity asked for hard stats, a serious research paper and a Town Hall type meeting just as the women directors had had the previous year. Lyn Wallis took it to the Major Performing Arts Board and attracted the funding for all of these things. The town hall meeting became a Roundtable organised with much goodwill from so many people and organisations. The day itself was complex and we all hankered for immediate results however we did get to hear some difficult but honest responses from Artistic Directors, Associates and Literary Managers to the injustice of our situation. Recently came the excellent and thoroughly damning research paper undertaken by Elaine Lally and Sarah Miller for the Australia Council that was part of this process. It is out now and directives to the Companies are underway, the results of which won’t be known until late 2013. So we shall wait and see if it is a quick fix or a sea change.

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