This past Sunday, the Board of my budding company, GAN-e-meed Theatre Project met to discuss, among other things, the mission. We’re new so we need to define, enhance, and pinpoint what exactly we want to do. We all agreed, in a nutshell that we “advance the role of women in theatre.” What comes after that…precisely…we’re still working on.
Of course, along with this discussion came the question: Where’s the proof that women theatre artists need advancement? We all know that there are far fewer roles for actresses than there are actresses to fill them, but what about directors, designers, technicians? Where’s the proof? I was able to point to anecdotal references to a study published in 2003, citing that only %20 of theatre directors are women. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find the actual study (That’s next on my list) but I did find a survey of studies published by the Fund for Women Artists in 2002, and an article published by tcg in February of 2008 about The Women’s Project and the reasons around its existence. Both articles include the aforementioned decidedly small percentage: According to TCG, in the 2000-2001 season of the 1900 member theatres, 23% of shows were directed by women and 20% had “women on the writing team.” These numbers actually decrease in the following season (2001-2002) down to 16% and 17% respectively.
Furthermore, I pointed out that as an attendee at this Year’s Elliott Norton Awards in Boston, I was pleased to note that the percentage of women nominees for fringe/small companies was high (sometimes 100%) but as soon as the budgets went up, their representation declined proportionally. And I believe I can say this is simply because fewer women are hired at theatres with larger budgets. You can go here for the results of this year’s awards.
This trend was reiterated just this weekend at the Tony’s and deftly summarized by blogger Laura Collins in her recent post, Where the Boys Are: At the Podium.
Whatever the reasons (and I’m sure a few good feminists can point you the way if you’re not entirely sure on your own) there is a definite lack of female representation among directors, writers and designers. I know they’re out there, so it’s not for lack of trying; it’s simply for lack of hiring.