I hate writing about this. But it should be known that the Great Plains Theatre Conference has become a much lesser plains for the ladies.

I’m a big fan of GPTC. My play KIGALI was chosen several years ago to be one of the mainstage shows. I had an entire week to work on rewrites, working with terrific director Sonia Keffer and wonderful actors like Amy Lane and Terry Brannen. A year later, I was invited back to give feedback to other actors and hear another great reading of my short play TOP OF THE HOUR.

I didn’t apply this year. It’s just as well, apparently.

That first year I participated, more than half the shows chosen for mainstage readings – five of the eight chosen that year – were written by women. This year, there is just one play by a female writer on the mainstage. 26 other writers were invited to participate in the conference PlayLabs. Of them, seven are women.

And this in the year GPTC is honoring the wonderful writer Connie Congdon.

Artistic leaders say the selections are blind.

I don’t argue for a quota system. But when the numbers look like this, it begs a closer look at who is making those blind selections. And what criterea they are using. How blind is blind?

Or perhaps it just means we don’t write very well.

1 thought on “Sigh

  1. “How blind is blind”…?? What does that MEAN? Are you accusing the GPTC of some sort of subterfuge? But a bigger question: Do you honestly WANT women playwrights to be considered/judged SEPARATELY from men? Isn’t that a form of paternalism? And isn’t paternalism, (or call it the good-old-boy-system if you want) a thing you ultimately want to move BEYOND? (Even though that would mean the end of organizations such as your FPI. Or do you secretly hope that will never happen? ) Listen: I know lots of female artists of ALL media (painters, sculptors, writers) who want to be judged — to succeed — NOT as “women” but as persons, as artists. Period. THAT is progress. THAT is equality. Good writing is good writing if it comes from men, women, children, monkeys or parakeets. Ditto bad writing. And succeeding (or getting noticed on any level) in the theater is just plain HARD for EVERYONE. Your whimpering is counterproductive and feels like sour grapes to me.

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