If you’re not a bean counter than you might be an artistic director?

This was an interesting interview with Carey Perloff at the ACT Theater in San Francisco in Howlround.  Here is her bio:

“Carey Perloff, a vigorous proponent of unusual classical literature and a passionate advocate of new work and new theatrical forms, is celebrating her twentieth year as artistic director of A.C.T. Perloff has directed dozens of award‐winning productions for A.C.T., including the American premieres of works by Tom Stoppard, Harold Pinter, and Timberlake Wertenbaker, world premieres by Philip Kan Gotanda, Constance Congdon, and Mac Wellman, and new interpretations of Schiller, Webster, Euripides, Gorky, Gogol, and Molière.”

Great bio. How many women playwrights did you count in that round up?  One.  Constance Congdon. But then Carey Perloff is also a playwright. So make that two.

I think it’s great that she’s a champion of child care in the workplace. And she has some great things to say about what has prevented other women from getting to leadership positions.

“There are many, many threads to tease out of this. One has to do with women playwrights and women’s stories and why those are so underrepresented.”

But then I read this in her interview:

“One reason this gender conversation has been incredibly valuable is that I’ve never done things like bean counting. I never actually sat down and made a list of the twenty women directors I wanted to hire. When all this conversation came up, I thought  “I should do this, because who is out there that I don’t know? Tons!” I looked at the Goodman season, and half the plays were being directed by women I didn’t know. I thought, “All right, so one of the things is to keep the running list in front of me, so it’s right there. I should get to know the next generation. I should keep the former generation alive too. Are we forgetting who is out there? Sometimes having the list is good. I really don’t like bean counting because I don’t think it’s the solution to diversity.  On the other hand, it makes you think.”

We all work in different ways, but how well informed are you as the artistic director at ACT if you don’t know who half the new women directors were at the Goodman season?  Is her aversion to”bean counting” really an aversion to being held accountable to the very statistics that she cites as a “bottleneck” or a “pulling the ladder up behind her”?

Read the entire interview at the link:

Carey Perloff’s Interview in HowlRound


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