Wednesday, September 25, 2013

7 female playwrights have new plays being produced this year in Winnipeg. Here's why you should care.

I recently had the pleasure to be a part of a news cycle that acknowledged an incredible development. In the 2013/2014 season,  there are seven new plays written by female playwrights being produced in theatres throughout the city.

I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my personal, and our collective good fortune, and maybe write a note as to why this is such an important turn of events, not only for the seven women involved, but for the whole community.

1) Seven new plays in one season, is, in itself, a remarkable feat. These are not self-produced, festival attached, small productions (not that there would be any shame if they were). These are all Equity theatres. Anyone who works in the theatre can tell you that new plays are incredibly hard to get produced, so the number is impressive no matter who has written them.

2) Of the plays produced in theatres throughout North America, the number written by women ranges anywhere from 12% - 20% , depending on where you are. Even at the high end, this is a pitiful representation of the number of women who are writing plays which is, as you probably guessed, abut 50% (based on numbers of secondary and post-secondary grads). Individual artistic directors that I know are certainly doing their part to try to overturn that statistic, and this is a good example of that coming to fruition.

3) If you have a daughter, this is really important. As a kid, teen, and even as an adult, it is important to see women doing the things you are interested in doing. The truth is, women are more likely to tell stories that revolve around, or equally involve women. It is vitally important that women are not only seen as love interests, supporting characters, inspirational motivators or sexual conquests. Female protagonists will help girls and women feel more a part of the whole of person-kind, their stories as important, their struggles as legit.

4) If you have a son, this is equally important. I am sure you are raising your son to be a feminist ally, and to respect all people and see no difference between female and male artists, but unfortunately, you are not the only influence in your son's life. In fact, after a very short period of time, you are not even the strongest influence. The more women's stories are absorbed into popular culture, the healthier everyone's attitudes will be.

5) If you like any kind of entertainment at all, this is a big deal. Not a huge theatre person? Maybe you like movies or television or music or books....guess what? Gender bias is pervasive in all these arenas. The only thing that will change that bias is by all of us changing it. This kind of development is important to all art forms and all forms of expression. The more we see it one area, the more likely we are to see in on others.

There are lots of other reasons why this is an awesome turn of events, not the least of which is you are going to see some amazing theatre because of it. 

If you want to follow the happenings of these great lady playwrights, become a fan of the Facebook Group:

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