Sharing Words from DramaQueen’s Karen Kinch on Gender Parity

I’m repeating this from my last blog. It bears repeating.

Joe Dowling, the Artistic Director of the Guthrie Theatre in Minnesota, interviewed on NPR, said this about his all white male season at the Guthrie:

“Let me address the playwrights first. We’re largely a classics theater – that’s what we do and I may be reading the wrong books but I find it difficult to see – because of social history in the 17th, 18th, 19th and indeed early 20th century – which are termed ‘classic plays’ – women playwrights emerged who would be able to fill large theaters.”

His indifference to and ignorance about women playwrights took my breath away and raised loud voices about the problem of gender parity. The following is from Karen Kinch who addresses the question.

Karen Kinch is the Artistic Director of DramaQueen Theatre in Seattle, WA. DramaQueen. It was founded in 2002 to develop new works written by women.

Karen Kinch

She did some research, the results of which also took my breath away:

“This past week my husband and I spent several evenings visiting the websites of all 74 LORT member theatres across the USA, to tally up how each are doing with regard to gender parity. If the website listed the coming season, we looked at that — if not, we tallied up the current 2011-12 season.

You may be interested to know that, of the 74 LORT houses, we found only two theatres – both of them with women Artistic Directors at the helm – who actually achieved a season of true gender parity for playwrights, one for the current 2011-12 season and the other for the just announced coming 2012-2012 season.

It’s also wonderful to note that AD Lyn Meadow at the Manhattan Theatre Club has achieved gender parity for directors as well in 2011-12:

Manhattan Theatre Club – New York, New York, Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director

2011-2012 Six-Play Season:

We Live Here by Zoe Kazan
Close Up Space by Molly Smith Metzler
Wit by Margaret Edison
Regrets by Matt Charman
The Columnist by David Auburn
Venus in Fur by David Ives

Playwrights: 3 men, 3 women

Directors: 3 men, 3 women:

Sam Gold, Leigh Silverman, Lynn Meadow, Daniel Silverman, Carolyn Cantor, Walter Bobbie

City Theatre Company – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Tracy Brigden, Artistic Director

2012-2013 Six-Play Season
Maple and Vine by Jordan Harrison
South Side Stories by Tami Dixon
Seminar by Theresa Rebeck
Breath and Imagination by Daniel Beatty
Little Gem by Elaine Murphy
Abigail/1702 by Roberto Aguierre-Sacasa

Playwrights: 3 men, 3 women
Directors: Not Yet Announced

It was easy to grow discouraged as we made our way through the websites. Many theatres listed no women playwrights and no women directors. Many others listed only one woman playwright or one woman director.

We’re thinking we might want to re-do the research this summer when all the theatres have their 2012-2013 seasons posted, and approach it in a more thorough and scientific fashion, including total annual budget figures, venues, and other relevant details.

The MTC’s website says the 2012-13 season will be announced shortly. Do we dare hope that Ms. Meadow might do it again?”

I’m hoping that 2013 seasons across the country will join the MTC!

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