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Women Count At off the WALL

WOMEN COUNT - A message from our Executive Artistic Director

In case you missed the theatre industry’s gender parity movement, here’s a recap: women have been writing plays for millennia and landing productions for centuries. Over time, they’ve also come to play key roles onstage and backstage. But female

Virginia Wall Gruenert

theatre artists of all kinds still find themselves bonking their heads on a glass ceiling known as the “glass curtain.” Even today, female playwrights, directors, and designers are atypical. Shakespearian gender-swapping has been mooted as a partial solution; however, such theatrical “novelty” only serves to distract from the main issue – the absence of contemporary dramas reflecting the complexity of women’s lives. Cross-gender casting fails to question the over-representation of dead and living male playwrights. It does not address the fact that half our contemporary creative world is missing.

In an essay in, Jenny Lyn Bader writes:

“We live in a world dominated by male imagination. (Men) write 80 percent of produced plays and commit 80 percent of violent crimes, while the rest of us try to catch up with the former and avoid the latter.”

Theatre is a generative medium. Ideas that begin there reverberate beyond to other stages, and to other media such as film and TV. They can travel great distances. Hearing different perspectives there could only enhance our capacity for empathy, especially if they’re the perspectives of those who commit the fewest violent crimes. And as we all know, empathy is in woefully short supply these days.

Not only women, but all marginalized groups could bring a lot to the table—if they just had a seat at the table, instead of a seat in the audience looking at the table. And when all viewpoints can be heard onstage, that will change what gets heard in the world.

Stay tuned for more.

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