I speak a lot about how blogs are changing the culture around the way we speak around theatre and the arts. I think, possibly, the greatest thing theatre-blogs in this country can do is speak for and create a movement with speed and with power.
When Belvoir announced their now infamous 2010 season, lining eleven men and one woman up on stage to say this is the theatre we’re making this year there was outrage. This physical manifestation of the gender disparity which has plagued the Australian theatre for as long as we have had one threw a new generation of theatre-makers and commenters up in arms.
I documented the main-stages of 2011, and things weren’t rosy. I fully plan to do the same thing again for 2012, as soon as I have a sliver of time in my life. But I was just one tiny fraction of the national movement.
In 2011, two companies – the State Theatre Company of South Australia and the Queensland Theatre Company – had no women playwrights. STCSA’s AD Cook said:
there is no conspiracy, you just have to be talented, and the people who would hire you have to agree that you are … And that is the blunt fact of getting a job. You just have to be good. And the same with playwrights, they think “why aren’t you doing my plays?” Well, I don’t think it’s very good. There’s always one answer, isn’t there?
By contrast, QTC’s AD Wesley Enoch said:
When you look at gender, women make up more than 53 per cent of the population. How are we responding to that as artistic directors? … When you look at the figures, then action comes about. QTC has no women playwrights in [2011’s] season, no indigenous playwrights or from a non-English speaking background. What are we saying?¹
Come 2012, STCSA has 54.69% female playwrights; and QTC has 22.22%. No one said this battle wasn’t going to be confusing.
It’s going to be long. And hard. And stressful. And, yes, always always confusing.
But yesterday, it took another huge leap forward with the publishing of the Women In Theatre paper through the Australia Council. I contributed some of quantitative data to the report, which is compiled with quantitative interviews, and together they paint a national picture across the Major Performing Arts Group companies and the Theatre Board Key Organisations.
Please, read the paper. Share it among your networks. Take its statistics and try to make it better. And when it’s not better, call people out.
I like to think we’re part of a movement, that something is happening, that things will get better. But I can’t do it without you.