Sunday, May 25, 2014

Drama Guild Stuff

I love Theresa Rebeck - she's one of the few well-known playwrights who consistently calls bullshit on the current situation of women's work being under-represented in the theater. This is from the latest issue of "The Dramatists" - the publication sent to members of the Dramatists Guild:
...So, of all the Dramatists Guild members working on Broadway this season, 10.7 percent were women, and 89.3 percent were men. Of all the new plays produced on Broad- way, 100 percent were written by white men, and zero percent were written by women of any color. 100 percent men, zero percent women.

Meanwhile, it seems that women are coming to Broadway to see plays and musicals in record numbers. In The New York Times March 29, 2014, (“In Audiences on Broadway, Fewer Guys Among theDolls”) Patrick Healy informs us that 68 percent of the Broadway audience is women and 32 percent is men. Broadway attendance is down in general, though. So guess who everyone is trying to lure into those seats? Why that’s right: MEN.

“Women drive Broadway sales,” Healy reports. “Though successful shows often depend on them to wrangle their husbands or boyfriends.” Say what? “Successful shows often depend?” Honestly that sounds a little like CNN, where the newscasters keep telling me that the debris in the ocean may or may not be wreckage from that poor lost plane.

Let’s not quibble. To me, the important part of that whole article really does seem to be the part where everyone acknowledges “women drive Broadway sales.” Women drive Broadway sales! Men are falling by the wayside but women are loyal fans!

But wait. “Women are the low-hanging fruit,” says publicist Michele Groner.

Gay men—the article goes on to explain—are considered “a reliable Broadway demographic.” But women? They’re “low-hanging fruit.” Is this related to the question of why Broadway remains so entrenched in an inability to actually hire women writers? It’s possible. “Women are low hanging fruit” sounds like you’ve got them anyway, so you don’t have to hire them or program for them. Even when the programming is there, the creative positions are not. As of now, the few shows that are clearly geared toward that female audience are writ- ten by men, by the same heavily skewed percentages. Even when they look to program to women, producers hire men.

It’s like politics, or Wall Street, or corporate headquarters. The closer you get to power and money, the more the women get shoved aside...
 Speaking of careers in the theater, it turns out I've never gotten around to upgrading to full Membership in the Dramatists Guild even though I've been qualified for at least eleven years, since the qualification is:
...a writer must have either had work professionally produced or published by an established publisher. Professional production is no longer defined by the size of the theatre but simply by whether tickets were sold to the public. 
I've certainly done a bit of self-producing, which I'm not sure counts, but that's OK because Oliver Butler's company Co-founder produced my play BLESSINGS OF THE SUN GOD as part of their Chemical Imbalance series in 2003. I'm pretty sure that qualifies.