Friday, August 10, 2012

The upcoming manly season at Workshop Theater Company

Around last year at this time I had an argument with the people who run the Facebook page 50/50 in 20/20 - I pointed out that Martin Denton's play publishing site had a very tiny percentage of female playwrights represented. The 50/50 people defended Denton on the grounds that he was a friend of theirs and a nice guy who didn't hate women at all. This didn't contradict the fact that only 17% of the plays on his site were by women, and eventually he copped to it.

One of the people following the 50/50 group, Kathleen Brant, a producing director of the Workshop Theater Company posted something on the thread to the effect of "our group does plays by women." I checked their web site and at that time they had a higher than usual percentage of female playwrights represented in upcoming productions - still not 50% of course, but then we know we can't expect 50/50 for another eight years (nine years at the time.) Because God and Nature have endowed men with the ability to write plays better than women write plays, and this will only change in 2020.

So I congratulated Kathleen Brant on this feat. But that was last year. It looks like this year it's back to business as usual. Looking at the Workshop Theater Company's upcoming schedule, all the playwrights named as receiving productions or staged readings between now and February 2013 are men

Actually, I think that 50/50 in 20/20 is optimistic. I think Caitlin Moran has it correct:
"For men born pre-feminism, this is what they were raised on: second-class citizen mothers; sisters who needed to be married off; female schoolmates going to secretarial school, then becoming housewives. Women who disengaged. Disappeared.

These men are the CEOs of our big companies, the big guys on the stock markets, the advisors to governments. They dictate working hours and maternity leave, economic priorities and social mores. And, of course, they don't feel equality in their bones - sexism runs deep in their generation, along with a liking for boiled puddings, and spanking and golf. Their automatic reaction is to regard women as "other." The entrenched bias against the working, liberated female will only die out when they do."
The same thing applies to theatre critics and producers and theatre organizations. So we're stuck with this "women as other" concept - which translates into the attitude that plays by and about men are of universal interest, while plays by and about women are of women-only interest. (Interesting statistic from the big theatre-gender study Opening the Curtain on Playwright Gender: An Integrated Economic Analysis of Discrimination in American Theater - plays written by men about women were more likely to be produced than plays written by women about women.)

Of course it isn't only men in that age-group who buy into the concept. Plenty of women agree with it - or at least go along with it, so that the men who run things will allow them to be part of the female auxiliary of the boys club.

And don't expect them to suddenly find enough plays by women to fill 50% of all production slots any time soon - because if they suddenly did that now, it would be an admission that they were NOT doing it prior to now.

This means that plays by men will continue to be done much more often than plays by women because it will take that long for these people with their regressive attitudes to die off in the next twenty years or so. Which takes us out to 2032, not 2020.