The other night, I went out for a bite to eat with my friend. We are both dorky weirdos who decided to start asking our server, Jake, about himself.
After some questions about whether or not he was going to Coachella (no) and where he was originally from (Nashville), it came to light that he was involved in musical theatre. Though I don’t write musicals, musical theatre is my first love. I was, understandably, excited. I squealed.
“What’s your favorite musical?!” I asked, loudly.
“Oh that’s way too difficult to answer,” he responded.
“Not for me!” I said. “I love Wicked.”
That’s when I knew Jake and I were not about to become musical theatre buddies. He sort of shrugged and looked down, away from me.
“Yeah, that’s a really popular one,” he muttered.
I’m not unused to this scenario. Wicked is, in the eyes of many, a frivolous, commercial musical for teenage girls. When I first saw Wicked a decade ago, I was a teenage girl. Now, all these years later, it’s still got a place in my heart. Why?
Wicked, though it was originally written (and then later adapted for the stage) by a man, explores a lot of topics that are important to me as a woman.
As a female playwright, I think it’s important to highlight the experiences of women on stage. The unfortunate issue is that often, plays that do this are seen as frivolous or trivial.
Sure there are plays, like Nottage’s Ruined, Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, and Vogel’s How I Learned to Drive, which get the recognition that they deserve. But these plays deal with especially heavy topics. What about plays that discuss the everyday issues of women? The complexity of female friendships? Work-life balance? The everyday microaggressions that women endure? Trying to succeed in male-driven businesses and industries?
Shows that deal with these issues aren’t the ones receiving acclaim and I believe that a major step toward gender parity in the world of playwriting is for us to normalize these subjects on stage.
If I can watch 8000 plays about a guy who tries to find himself in his art, or through some woman, men can watch a few more plays about how difficult it is to find clothes that fit well.