Thursday, June 26, 2008

Good show!

We had a great reading of my STRESS AND THE CITY at NYCPlaywrights last night. I will be posting video excerpts here soon.

So I got more negative feedback about my directing recently. I certainly could have done better at directing if I wasn't swamped with production duties for JANE EYRE, but while plenty of people would like to direct, NOBODY wants to do the nasty chore of production work without being paid very well for it. And although many actors seem to think I'm made of money, I am most definitely not.

So I will have to continue to both produce and direct. So the only remedy is to learn to be good at both, while doing both at the same time.

As I said before, part of my problem as a director is perception - being female automatically means your work is valued less. And this isn't just some paranoid feminist conspiracy theory - this is based on empirical testing - the blind auditions study which I've blogged about before:
Among musicians who auditioned in both blind and non-blind auditions, about 28.6 percent of female musicians and 20.2 percent of male musicians advanced from the preliminary to the final round in blind auditions. When preliminary auditions were not blind, only 19.3 percent of the women advanced, along with 22.5 percent of the men.

Using data from the audition records, the researchers found that blind auditions increased the probability that a woman would advance from preliminary rounds by 50 percent. The likelihood of a woman's ultimate selection is increased several fold, although the competition is extremely difficult and the chance of success still low.

As a result, blind auditions have had a significant impact on the face of symphony orchestras. About 10 percent of orchestra members were female around 1970, compared to about 35 percent in the mid-1990s. Rouse and Goldin attribute about 30 percent of this gain to the advent of blind auditions.

"Screens have been a very important part of the whole audition process," Nelson said. "My sense is that blind auditions have made a tremendous difference in the amount of hiring discrimination women face."

And Elizabeth Spelke had done her own work on the subject of female-name CVs being rated lower than male-name CVs, for the exact same CV.

Clearly the Bronte sisters had the right idea when they published their work initially under male-sounding pen names. And the discrimination continues to this very day.

Which is not to say that all women would make great stage directors. But clearly directors with male names are likely to be given the benefit of the doubt.

Several audience members said good things about my work as a director, and even the critics made positive, if indirect comments about my work.

Often if an actor's performance is lacking, the director will be blamed. One of the critics of JANE EYRE said this about the show:
the acting hits on all cylinders
Now if the acting did NOT hit on all cylinders, I am sure I would have been blamed for it. So conversely I think I should get credit for the acting hitting on all cylinders. Although since I didn't hide my female name, I'm sure the critics were less likely to give me credit as a director. And by the way, women are just as likely to carry around unconscious sexist attitudes when evaluating females - as Spelke's CV study showed - as males, so the fact that all the critics who came to JE are female does nothing to reduce the likelihood of being penalized for being female.

In any case what it boils down to is this: do a show under imperfect conditions OR don't do a show at all. I think it's better to do the show under imperfect conditions. But any actors who won't work under less than perfect conditions are invited not to take my money for acting in my plays.