At my friend Eve’s birthday party a few weeks ago, I found myself in conversation with our mutual pal Kelly, who was asking how “Shorts & Briefs” had gone – an afternoon of 10 minute plays and excerpts of plays that I’d been a part of in March. I said “Most excellent,” and then launched into why the heck Jan O’Connor, Mary Casey and I had cooked up the event: the sorry state of affairs for women getting their plays done.
Kelly asked (innocently) why things were that way. I explained that getting ANY play produced is tough – especially if you’re unknown or semi-unknown without a track record – but that the choosing of plays by literary departments leans towards picking male authors. It’s not unlike the film or TV business, I said. Writing staffs on TV shows to this day will have more men than women. Movie scripts by men still far outnumber those by women. (All hail Kathryn Bigelow, but don’t get me started on the number of working female directors.) Why is that, Kelly asked.
It’s been this way for years, I said. It mirrors the non-show biz business world (even though we’ve made progress on many fronts). Why is that, she asked again.
This is how our conversation went. Kelly kept asking why and I kept talking until finally I had a light bulb moment and said, you know what, Kelly? I think this is the journey of our planet.
I think we are a planet of polarity. North and South poles. East and West cultures. Night and Day. Black and White. Male and Female. And I think our journey is to reconcile, to integrate what we perceive to be our opposite, to see that we are not opposites, that we are many, many shades, many colors, many gradations all on the same spectrum.
But what keeps us from doing that? Fear. And I think that’s the other great journey of our planet. We hold on to our little acre of land. Our rung on the ladder. Our spot in the pecking order. Our religion. Our opinion. We think that spot, that belief is our tangible proof of… of what? We’re loved? We’re okay? We’re good enough?
And so we make fear-based choices. It takes courage to say, “Yeah, I’m gonna take a chance on this playwright who is not of my gender, my tribe, I’m gonna risk my reputation on her.” But you can’t stand around waiting for literary managers and producers to get over their fears and integrate “oppositeness” into their world. We must do it ourselves, in whatever way we can. Thank you Jan and Mary as well as Laura, Jennie and the other women of the L.A.F.P.I. for taking steps so we’re not standing around waiting.
I will close this first blog with a quote from Robert Henri that I have taped to my bathroom mirror: “ Do not let the fact that things are not made for you, that conditions are not as they should be, stop you. Go on anyway. Everything depends on those who go on anyway.”