Thursday, August 6, 2009

more voices at the table

The always-excellent Adam Forest Huttler blog over at Fractured Atlas had a post a while ago that asked: Do We Discriminate Against Female Playwrights? He cited a NYTimes article where
research conducted by economics students at Princeton University confirmed that female playwrights are less likely to have their work produced than their male counterparts.
This is, of course, not news. Theater lags real life (by a wide margin) when it comes to accurately portraying society. Revolution is not treading the boards.

At the same time, I have a strong aversion to a theater company that would make societal upheaval its mission statement -- or even one that places the color or gender of a playwright before the quality of her or his work, as it's a laudable but foolhardy method: when politics trumps story, production values tend to suffer.

When Adam Karsten and I (full disclosure -- we're men), gathered a larger group of collaborators to form the new core of COI, they were all women. This was not by design, but the new female majority wasn't an unhappy result, either. That still doesn't mean our plays are going to become more representative. As the original Times article outlined:
The biggest surprise? “These results are driven exclusively by the responses of female artistic directors and literary managers,” Ms. Sands said. … “Men rate men and women playwrights exactly the same.”
That is, female gatekeepers tend to be harsher to female writers.

For my part I have been actively soliciting female playwrights and screenwriters to add to our stockpile of projects-in-waiting that I pitch to Leah for her consideration. Study or no study, Leah certainly isn't going to greenlight a project out of sister solidarity. While I try to put good scripts in front of her eyes, seeing that as many of those authors have XX chromosomes as possible doesn't hurt. (Unless she reads this, and then we're all screwed.)

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