Thursday, July 16, 2015

Pushing for parity

The latest news about female playwright representation is in this week's NYTimes:
Roughly one-fifth of the productions staged at hundreds of theaters nationwide over the past three seasons were written by women, according to a study to be released Friday.
Overseen by the playwrights Julia Jordan and Marsha Norman, the study, called “The Count,” is to be updated each year. Until now, besides a handful of older analyses, it had been unclear just how many female playwrights were seeing their work staged, according to Ms. Jordan.
 
“We wanted to create a baseline,” she said, “and to document the change.”
Judging from the numbers, the picture for women is rosier than a decade ago. A 2002 report from the New York State Council on the Arts found that 17 percent of productions across the country had female playwrights. According to the new report, that figure now sits at 22 percent.
 
“That’s a significant increase,” Ms. Norman said. “If that could continue, we could get to where we need to be, which is parity.”
I found this especially interesting because I just received another email from another theater group that was making a big deal out of the fact that it was featuring plays with female characters, but by a male playwright. A couple of months ago I received a notice from Project Y about a play by Adam Szymkowicz , author of the dread Compulsive Love, as part of their 'Parity Project.'

And then lately my actor friend Amanda is going to appear in a play, one of nine by Rich Orloff at the Workshop Theater Company. The big deal is that it's all female characters and female directors.

Theater groups love to do plays by men so much that even though they want to be known for promoting parity they just can't quite get comfortable with the idea of producing women's plays instead of men's. So the actor parity option is what they go with. And then there's the added bonus for those playwrights, both heterosexual men - plays with lots of girl-on-girl sex. Well at least in Orloff's case. Szymkowicz is more about lesbians having sex with unattractive men. Take that, patriarchy.

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