About a year ago, I wrote a post in which I analyzed the gender parity in my work. It was a bit of self-analysis, inspired by Liz Maestri, intended to help keep me honest about my own small contributions (or lack thereof) toward the effort of achieving gender parity in theater. The analysis consisted of three questions asked about my plays:
- From whose perspective is the story told, a man’s or a woman’s?
- Who directed the first production/workshop of the play?
- How many male and female cast members does each play call for?
I thought at the time that it might be useful to revisit the analysis year after year and see whether I’ve made any progress… so, here we are.
My answer to the first question last year was that of the 12 full-length plays I’d completed, five were written from a male character’s perspective and two from a female character’s; the other five were ensemble pieces. I’m glad to be able to say that the one full-length I’ve completed in the past twelve months has shifted this balance in the right direction. The split is now 5-3-5, which is still two plays away from parity. Check back with me in 2014 and I might be all the way there! But if not… I’ll have this annual post to hold me accountable.
The second question was the source of my greatest success last time around: I was already at parity. And guess what? This year, I got one notch beyond parity! The workshop of my new full-length play, HOT & COLD, was directed by the estimable and talented Eleanor Holdridge, with whom I expect to work over and over again.
The third question was the one that stumped me last year: 32 roles for men, 27 for women. Given that I wrote three of each this past year, the numbers are now 35 to 30: a slightly better percentage (from 54.2% men down to 53.8%), but still a ways to go.
I wish I had something profound to say about all of this; I just don’t. I wish I could affect more than my small corner of the theatrical world; I don’t think I can, at least not appreciably. We still live in an era in which a prominent theater in DC can program a season of six plays written by men, all slated to be directed by men, including GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, a play that features nothing but roles for men. That kind of thing gets me down. It hurts us all, and we ought to be able to do better. It’s a shame that we don’t. (More soon on this subject: I’m working on an analysis of the entire DC theater ecosystem.)
Except… I think we can, and that belief keeps me going. So… playwrights — especially you men — have you taken a similar look at your own creative work? If not, why not? Why not do it right now? It’s only three questions, and things aren’t going to change until WE change them. Go on, run the numbers. If you’re feeling bold, post them in the comments. No, post them even if you aren’t feeling bold. In fact, let’s ALL make this an annual check-in. Every year, around the end of April/beginning of May, we’ll see how we’re doing, and vow to make progress, year after year, in whatever ways we can. Because we *can* do this! We have to do this! Are you with me?