For the past week my twitter feed and blogroll have been full of responses to The Summit, a series of discussions led by Washington Post reviewer Peter Marks and hosted by Arena Stage in DC this week. The Summit put the AD’s of five of DC’s largest theatres on a stage together for a candid conversation about the state of theatre. For a great summary of the event, check out this article from DCTheatreScene.com or this response from 2amTheatre.
They discussed many subjects that evening including attendance figures, ticket prices, season programming & subscribers, and many other relevant topics, but the one that sparked a fire was when they discussed including female playwrights. Twitter exploded on #TheSummit when one of the AD’s in attendance made comments that there are not enough plays by females produced in New York or London and that as AD’s they needed the name recognition in order to sell a show. Other ADs made comments about there not being female-penned classics and about how many “feminist” plays are now too dated to produce.
Out of this has come a new twitter/tumblr account called LadyPlaywrights which introduces a handful of, you guessed it, Lady Playwrights every day because ignorance is not an excuse.
But all of this conversation on my timeline and blog reading got me thinking: How does Vancouver measure up? DC stats show that females make up 27% of playwrights on DC stages and 33% of directors. I was certain that our stats were better than that. I mean, we have wonderful playwrights like Lucia Frangione, Michelle Riml, Lisa Ravensbergen, and Deb Williams. We have directors like Sarah Rodgers, Mindy Parfitt, Kim Collier, Anita Rochon, Carole Higgins, Chelsea Haberlin, Angela Konrad, Genevieve Flemming, Rachel Peake, Renee Iaci, Katrina Dunn, Rachel Ditor, and Lois Anderson. Surely our numbers would be higher than DC’s.
I decided to do some quick research. I looked at the 2014/2015 Season so far (beginning May 1) for all Jessie registered shows.
Here are the Vancouver stats:
35% of directors are female
24% of playwrights are female
22% of plays produced are new plays and of those only 25% are written by women
Comparatively, we have even less female playwrights and barely more female directors being produced in our city. I perceived Vancouver to have a wealth of female talent – which I still believe it does – but the numbers suggest that equal representation is still a long way off. In DC they are tackling this head on: in fall of 2015 49 companies will participate in the first ever Women’s Voices Festival. Maybe Vancouver needs to follow suit?