The Gender Debate: five.point.one

by Jane

five.point.one is an independent theatre company working in Adelaide. Established in 2009, the ensemble based company present South Australian premiere texts, with two productions a year since their inception.  In 2009 alongside their two play season, the company also presented an open reading of a new work by Caleb Lewis, and next month they will open their seventh production: Polly Stenham’s That Face.

The company currently has six core members: Matt Crook, Elleni Karaginnidis, Scott Marcus, Corey McMahon, Kate Roxby and Brad Williams.

McMahon has acted as director on all productions for the company to date, with the exception of 2010 Fringe show In Remembrance (of) A Small Death, two short plays by Anna Barnes and directed by Delia Olam, in production which had an entirely female cast and creative team.  Curious about the gender make-up of five.point.one over the past three years, McMahon asked me to take a look.

McMahon has directed six of the seven productions; Cassandra Backler has designed for six of seven; five productions credited a lighting designer, and Ben Flett filled the role on four of these; two productions credit a sound designer or a composer.  Lewis’ Rust and Bone, and Daniel Keene’s The Share had fully male casts; while the Barnes’ double had a fully female cast.  In total, the company has presented eleven female roles and fourteen male roles, to scripts by four male playwrights and three female playwrights.

In total, 32 people have been credited in creative or acting roles over the seven productions in 52 positions.

This can be broken down into fourteen women filling twenty-three positions, and eighteen men filling thirty positions.

With only six percentage points separating the number of individuals, and seven percentage points separating the number of roles each gender fills, women that are employed by the company are employed to an equal extent as the men: the inequality lies before they reach the company stage.

In saying this though, the inequality is very slight.  An imbalance in directors stems from McMahon taking on that role as one of the six enemble members.

It is pleasing to see the company statement says “We believe all good theatre must start with good writing and five.point.one places the playwright at the forefront of the creative process”, and in seven productions, three plays have had a female playwright and four have had a male, as it is in script production our female playwrights can find them selves chronically underrepresented.

Overall, I am very pleased with the current gender balance in five.point.one’s seasons to date.  It is great to see something much closer to equality happening on our young, independent stages.  I’m excited to see how the company continues to develop.

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