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Melissa Silverstein

Melissa Silverstein

Posted: September 10, 2008 04:23 PM

Women Playwrights Missing from Fall Theatre Season in NY


The NY Times reported this past Sunday that the new upcoming Broadway season is a Male, Male, Male World: Like I'm shocked.

A handful of productions, probably converging by coincidence, will provide a season-long seminar on the subject of the male animal under pressure.
The Times continues and posits that maybe this is a reaction to last season's plethora of domineering women.
Is it a reaction against last season, when the New York stage seemed to be overtaken by domineering women?...Whatever the reason, wives and mothers are taking a definite back seat to their husbands, fathers and sons this fall on Broadway stages.
Playwright Theresa Rebeck takes on this bullshit in a great piece in The Guardian, Broadway's Glass Ceiling and makes it very clear that every season, no matter if there are a few good female roles, is a man's world because so few female playwrights are let into the club.
Could we get real? Every year is the Year of the Man, with a couple of women who manage to crawl their way into the lineup. In the 2008/2009 season, as it has been announced, the number of plays written by women on New York stages will amount to 12.6% of the total.
Rebeck knows what's going on in the business. She's one of the few women kind of allowed into the club and it's a tough, tough world. I know cause I hear all the stories from her as we work out at the gym. The stuff she says is too good to make up, even for a playwright and novelists.
There's some feeling in rehearsal halls and writers' retreats and drunken dinner parties, that maybe the American theatre participates rather too enthusiastically in the supposed gender bias that the American media tosses about willy-nilly while discussing candidates for higher office. Mostly it is women playwrights who feel that way; male playwrights think the system is really, really fair and that women playwrights who raise these questions are whiners or dirty feminists.
Last week over 100 female playwrights in NYC discussed the pathetic amount of women being produced in New York this upcoming season.

Here's some of the numbers:
Plays by Living American Playwrights for 2008-09 Season:
Roundabout: 3 white men, 1 white woman
Lincoln Center Theater: 4 white men
Manhattan Theatre Club: 5 White men, 1 black woman
Public Theater: 6 white men, 1 black woman
Second Stage: 3 white men, 1 white woman
Playwrights Horizons: 4 white men, 2 women (1 black, 1 white)
Vineyard: 1 white man, 1 black man
NYTW: 1 white man, 1 white woman
Primary Stages: 3 white men, 1 white woman
Soho Rep: 1 white man
Rattlestick: 2 white men, 1 white woman
New Group: 2 white men
Atlantic: 5 white men

Total Female Playwrights: 9

Pathetic Fact of the Day: A higher percentage of women were being produced on NY stages in 1908-09 season that 2008-2009 season!

Think about going to support a female playwright the next time you are going to the theatre and if there is not a play by a woman ask your local theatre why not.

Follow Melissa Silverstein on Twitter: www.twitter.com/melsil