CULTURE & ARTS
09/04/2015 10:06 am ET Updated Sep 04, 2015

Theater Needs To Pay A Lot More Attention To Female Playwrights

Welcome to yet another creative boys' club.
Courtesy of Christine Howey

The gender gap pervades every industry and measurable statistic of modern life, except maybe roundups of gynecology patients. The theater is one of our worst examples. "But! But! ... " a dude might stutter, on the verge of some real A+ mansplaining. "There are plenty of ingenues and women complicating the plot for male leads!"

That's true-ish. And yet the lack of women behind the scenes allows for a Tony Awards season dominated by white men (see: most directing and writing categories in most years of the Tony Awards). While festivals like Fringe work to include a wider range of voices, overall far too little progress has been made in terms of gender parity. Or, to be a bit more specific and cite a study from the U.K., we've only made around one percent of progress in 10 years.

With this daunting history in mind, The Huffington Post focused on work written (and often also performed) by women at the 2015 Fringe festival in New York City. Here are eight wildly talented female playwrights on the process of creating their shows, the theatrical iteration of institutionalized sexism and what they're doing to change it. 

 

Lisa Lewis, "Schooled"

Courtesy of Lisa Lewis

Do you know how in the beginning of "An Education," Carey Mulligan is all bright yet naïve and Peter Sarsgaard is strangely charming yet predatory (because Peter Sarsgaard is strangely charming yet predatory in literally every role he plays)? "Schooled" is decidedly the opposite of that troubling dynamic. Lisa Lewis's play works within the structure of the pseudo-romantic teacher-student relationship, and then flips it on its head. She sends up a complex reading of the well-trod power play, in which there is no predator or victim, but an intricate intertwining of ambitions from which no ego emerges unscathed. 

There is undoubtedly a boys' club, and in order to 'penetrate' it, I've got to adopt a persona at times that plays by their rules.

 

What inspired you to write "Schooled"?

The idea for the piece came from the experiences that myself and my peers had studying playwriting and screenwriting at NYU, both inside the program and in our interpersonal relationships, and how that affected our abilities to have opportunities. There was a fair amount of student-teacher activity going on in my college program. And the characters in the story are composites of people I knew, as well as who I was when I was 22. I started writing the play out of a real place of confusion, guilt and anger about what I saw going on, both in school and in the first jobs I had in film and publishing. From a young person's perspective, the desire to please, to make connections, to advance their career in a very competitive environment, to want that stroking from a teacher or boss is really high. I do believe that female students get sexualized more often then straight male students by their teachers, sometimes unconsciously and sometimes very actively.

What do you want audiences to feel when they leave the theater?

My ideal is that audiences will feel torn. I want them to see that the relationships in "Schooled" are complicated. They're not explicitly predatory. I don't believe that the teacher in the piece is predatory and I don't believe that the young woman in the piece is a victim. Nor do I think that she is a predator. I want audiences to see that she is trying to find a way to make her relationship make sense within her boundaries.

How do you see the gender gap playing out in your industry?

You know, one of the companies I worked for was a very male-driven environment. It just was. To get the kind of opportunities that were available, you had to, as a woman, sit yourself down at 7 p.m. with a glass of whiskey and be able to shoot the shit with the men. If you wanted them to say, "Hey, you wanna take a look at this script?" or "Hey, wanna take a look at this project?" You know, if you wanted to be in the room, you had to acquire a persona that made you feel comfortable. I think that's the major disadvantage to women -- and this is sort of what my play is about -- so much of opportunity is based on relationships. 

There is undoubtedly a boys' club, and in order to "penetrate" it, I've got to adopt a persona at times that plays by their rules. The language you use, both body language and verbal, the willingness to be a part of a conversation where you might be condescended or sexualized, to walk the line of participation without giving too much of yourself away ... that's a hard thing to do, and I've found it entirely necessary in a world where relationships are just as much a key to success as actual merit.

What do you think is the best way to combat the gender gap?

Every day we hear about something going on in the industry. You'll have a theater build a season around only white men. There's bursts of that backlash, but ideally in the theater we're looking at a season and being conscious of who is included. I mean, you shouldn't accidentally have a season without any female or minority playwrights. We should be consciously trying to expand the opportunities available. I'm not saying there's some kind of quota to it, but I do think that if you're telling stories, you should be telling all kinds of stories. There are so many great writers and artists out there. There's no reason not to have that opportunity, to give people that voice and that space.

 

Ann Starbuck, "Tiananmen Annie" 

Courtesy of Ann Starbuck

Ann Starbuck's play is a trip back to the 1989 Tiananmen protests, a glimpse at a China that doesn't exist anymore -- and is illegal to talk about -- from the perspective of a young woman trying her best to understand it. "Tiananmen Annie" unfurls a bildungsroman in the context of a historical portrait. It takes on a sort of "This American Life" mode of storytelling, like what would happen if your exuberant third grade teacher was pretending to be Ira Glass on a field trip. Well, that, but with a lot more impressions and the occasional fat joke.

Men just have a lot more opportunities to go into writer’s rooms than women. It's probably one of the most sexist businesses out there.

 

What inspired you to write "Tiananmen Annie"?

I actually started working on this show a couple of years ago. Just writing and trying to figure out how to tell it. I had been thinking about it for probably about a decade, since around 2000. I'd done one-person shows before, though never one on my own. I'm a performer and a writer, but primarily a storyteller. The experiences I had working and studying in China were so important to me, I knew it was a story I had to tell. Around 2012, I set myself a deadline for the 25th anniversary of the protests. 

What do you want audiences to feel when they leave the theater?

I want audiences to go on a journey with me. I want them to feel like they’re living the story with me, like they can see what I saw.

How was it received over the course of the festival?

We sold out almost every performance. We were 10 tickets shy of selling out the entire run at the Fringe. The last performance, I had little old ladies hitting each other with their hand bags to get into the show, screaming, “My ticket! My ticket!” My box office manager said it was the only show where people were jostling to get in. But I still think a producer would look at it and say, “Oh, I don’t know if I could make money off this show.” I don't know if they'd want to take the risk on something historical written by a woman.

Why not? In general, how do you see the gender gap playing out in the industry?

You know, I'm not a producer, but they’re probably more willing to take a risk on a male playwright or maybe on a playwright that is hyper-sexualized.

What do you think is the best way to combat the gender gap?

I'm part of the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative. It’s really fascinating. There are a lot of famous television writers who are part of it. I’ve met a number of women writing for television who were writing for Fringe because they wanted a kind of freedom they don’t get in a TV writing job. You know, in writers' rooms, the ratio of men to women is a joke. There are so many more men than women. Men just have a lot more opportunities to go into writers' rooms than women. It's probably one of the most sexist businesses out there.

 

 Christine Howey, "Exact Change"

Christine Howey

Christine Howey catalogs her transition in the one-woman show "Exact Change." Sharing photos of her childhood as Richard, through her failed marriage and struggles with fatherhood, she threads the emotional core of her story with the bright, cutting sense of humor she has established now 25 years after coming out. Howey explores the self-doubt she left behind (in the form of an unnervingly Hulk Hogan-esque bully), the man she once was, and the woman she wanted to be, presenting an honest narrative of finding out who you are.

I think many men who run theaters don’t take female playwrights seriously, they often can't relate to stories told from a female perspective.

 

What inspired you to write "Exact Change"?

"Exact Change" began as a series of poems about my experience as a transgender woman. I eventually turned it into a play by maintaining the compression of poetry while keeping the narrative easy to follow. I wanted to compile my poems into a roughly chronological journey through my life as a transgender woman, transitioning at age 45, accompanied by photos of myself at various ages. 

What do you want audiences to feel when they leave theater?

My goal was to help the audience experience what it feels like to be a transgender person, the confusion, the anxiety and the joy. So many people say they can’t imagine what it feels like to be in the wrong gender. That is what I set out to accomplish with this show. And during every performance, I try to make sure the audience stays with me so they can experience something new without feeling alienated or mystified.

How do you see the gender gap playing out in the industry?

I have been fortunate to work with theater companies -- Cleveland Public Theatre, Playhouse Square, None Too Fragile Theater -- that are very open to women playwrights. I think many men who run theaters don’t take female playwrights seriously; they often can't relate to stories told from a female perspective. This has a negative effect on women who want to pursue a career as a playwright.

I have an anecdote from another industry that might be illustrative: When I transitioned in 1990, I was the creative director of an ad agency. It was all so new for all of us, we hadn’t really talked about what would happen the “day after.” Anyhow, the day after I started living as a woman, the agency called me in to work on a project, which was great. But in the creative department meeting, I was talking and a couple men interrupted me at a couple different times. This had NEVER happened when I was a man in that same position, a couple days before. I was shocked. Afterwards, I realized the men weren’t trying to be mean or offensive, it was just natural for them to interrupt a woman who was speaking. What I was saying wasn’t as important as what they were about to say. I think that unconscious attitude applies in the theater world as well.

What do you think is the best way to combat the gender gap?

I think if theaters took a more proactive role in encouraging female playwrights, such as sponsoring workshops for play readings and play development, it might help change the atmosphere for women. In order to speak, it helps to know that you will be heard.

[Editor's Note: This is just an excerpt of HuffPost's interview with Howey. Stay tuned for a full-length feature focusing on her and her work.]

 

Tessa Keimes, "The Bad German"

Courtesy of Tessa Keimes

In Tessa Keimes' "The Bad German," the playwright uses her one-woman show to chart self-doubt around her sexuality and nationality, combatting anguish over her inherited connections to the Holocaust and asking the strangely complicated question of what it means to be a good person. She has taken the reality of German guilt and universalized it, letting the anxiety and neuroticism we usually associate with Woody Allen and his so-specifically New York storylines flourish. While most of us have not had panic attacks centered around "tiny Jewish hats," surely we can understand the fear of not being accepted.

We need to focus on telling stories that women want to hear, that are not two women just talking about a guy in a scene.

 

What inspired you to write "The Bad German"?

I took a workshop on playwriting and the teacher encouraged us to start with the subject we least wanted to write about. This was the thing that came out!

How did you deal with the anxiety and neuroticism around your German-ness in writing the play?

I was a super anxious kid, so I have always tried to look at things in an abstract way because otherwise it just gets too dark. That's just how I've always dealt with things, and I channelled that for "The Bad German."

What do you want audiences to feel when they leave the theater?

I want people to be able to recognize themselves and realize they are not alone in not fitting in or not feeling good enough. I definitely want them to have a good time, I want them to laugh, but I also want them to think about how they look at others. Sometimes it’s not a given. People think they’ll be looked at the way they [look at] themselves, but if you come from a totally different background, things that are totally natural to you might be interpreted as creepy or dark by somebody else.

How do you see the gender gap playing out in the industry?

You know, I’m in this group called Shooting Jane and we’re trying to address those issues. Our founder is a casting director and she was able to see it from the other side. People in casting will really say things like, “You know, there are no attractive women that can be funny.” After sharing stories like that, 15 of us from the Kelly Kimball studio started writing together. 

As a group, what do you think is the best way to combat the gender gap?

I think the way to go about it is giving women the chance. It’s not often women are given the opportunities. I mean, obviously there are tons of actresses out there, but in terms of really taking the reins, we’re definitely way behind. So, with this community we need to focus on telling stories that women want to hear, that are not two women just talking about a guy in a scene. So, we are going to give women the chance to do that in our production company. The other thing is to just do good work, because if it’s a good story and good work, it will speak to everybody. It’s not like we’re anti-men. It’s just about the quality of the work that you produce.

 

Monica Giordano, "Hand Grenades"

Courtesy of Monica Giordano

A lot of queer narratives, especially those centered around women, are overly simplistic in their need to be outwardly empowering. See: That godawful Katherine Heigl movie "Jenny's Wedding" (which includes multiple renditions of Mary Lambert's "She Keeps Me Warm"). With "Hand Grenades," Monica Giordano pushes back on the reductive representation of non-heteronormative relationships. She weaves intimacy between three characters that sets up a poetic look at the transience of love, with emphasis on the nuance and complexity so infrequently seen in queer spaces.

It takes a lot of will power to stay true to your authentic voice, knowing that in all likelihood, it’s a man’s authentic voice that people are going to produce.

 

What inspired you to write "Hand Grenades"?

The story came from a combination of my complete frustration with how relationships are portrayed onstage. I feel like when the relationship is one that is straight, there are so many colors and shades and nuances and mistakes -- which, good, this is very accurate to life, and necessary to theater. That's not the case with queer relationships.

Why do you think that is?

I think there was a time when we needed plays to show that non-heteronormative relationships were also full of love, that queer people are not evil, heartless people. Because of that, though, I think we’ve ended up almost idealizing queer relationships on stage, putting them on a pedestal, in which the participants in the love have one or two colors, in limited shades, with very few nuances, who make very limited mistakes. And in order for there to be equality, we have to embrace the fact that the relationships are equally messy, equally fraught, equally worthwhile. Equal can’t be synonymous with better, because I don’t think that helps anyone. 

What do you want audiences to feel when they leave the theater?

I want them to feel moved enough to discuss it after they leave, and not so moved that they distance themselves from it. I think the lack of a “villain” is really perplexing to a lot of people, and it’s been interesting to hear which characters members of the audience left angry with or empathized with or hated. I want people to think about the characters' choices and wonder if they would have chosen differently.

How have you experienced the gender divide in the theater industry? 

I’m very young, and still relatively new as a playwright, so I think thus far I’ve been quite, I don’t know if I’d call it “lucky,” in that most of the issues I’ve run up against have seemed to have been more about my age. I do also act, and I’ve run into nearly countless issues there with how people talk about my body, or, well, I’ve been the recipient of a lot of unwanted advances. 

As a playwright, I obviously really value words, and the power of words. I think the biggest thing I’ve noticed so far are the words used to describe my work, especially in comparison to my male counterparts. I remember being in my writing class in college, listening to men workshop their plays, and anytime they wrote about emotions, or revealed something about themselves, there was this huge outpouring of support and it was always heralded as “brave.” And I want to be clear that I do think it’s brave -- I think it’s brave anytime anyone does that. Where I got lost, though, was when I would do the same thing, and then would be told that I wasn’t really marketable because I was “writing plays for women.”

This has carried over into reviews where these same men have been hailed as “fresh,” “innovative” and listed as “compelling new voices,” and I … have been compared to Sarah Ruhl. The first time this happened, I cried because I love Sarah Ruhl. I love her plays, I love her voice. The fifth time, I also cried, because it was still a compliment, still an honor, but I did wonder why there weren’t ways to describe my plays, my voice, without comparing me to, and therefore in an intrinsic way, putting me against, another woman. 

I’ve also noticed it in the way I edit myself -- it’s just such a constant presence hanging over me, the fear, the knowledge that the gender gap exists, and so I find myself having to not give in to the voice in my head that says “You write plays for women and therefore no one will produce you” when I’m writing a love scene between two women, or I’m writing in heightened language, or even when I’m just thinking. In this industry, it takes a lot of will power to stay true to your authentic voice, knowing that in all likelihood, it’s a man’s authentic voice that people are going to produce. 

What do you think is the best way to combat the gender gap?

I think that as playwrights, as women, as people, owning our voices is so important. I won’t apologize for the poetry in my plays, and I’ll keep writing them because that’s my voice, that’s my power. And so I won’t change my voice to make it more marketable, or more “masculine."

I think the best thing we can do is to be allies with other minorities in our field -- to realize that racial issues are women’s issues, that discrimination against the LGBTQ community, against the differently-abled community -- these are all women’s issues. And to make sure that we are using our voices to lift up those communities as well. To lift up each other and, in essence, ourselves. 

I think it’s also up to the audience to listen. If you go to the theatre, and the majority of the plays that they’re producing are by male playwrights, ask yourself why. Ask the friend you brought with you why. Ask the theatre why. I think now we see, or at least are starting to see, that things need to change. That’s great. It’s up to everyone to change it by not shutting off our brains, or blindly accepting what is as what should be. We need to use our voices.

 

Maryedith Burrell, "#Ouch"

Courtesy of Maryedith Burrell

When Maryedith Burrell was violently knocked over by her dog Butters, she fell, broke her leg and tumbled into the nightmarish rabbit hole of bureaucracy that is the American healthcare system. With limited mental and physical acuity in the wake of her accident, Burrell began writing as a form of therapy. She set out to compose and perform an hour-long portrait of her orthopedic adventures as a means of nursing herself back to health and ended up with "#Ouch:" an accidentally hilarious look at the struggles of battling insurance companies while trying to survive trauma. 

Just working and writing in theater is a feminist statement.

 

What inspired you to write "#Ouch"?

Well, the accident was a couple years ago. One of the things that I allude to in the show is the fact that I had a scrambled brain and I couldn’t read at first. I started my career in theater years ago, and it took about 10 or 11 months before I could really write or retain the information. It was serious. One of the ways I decided I was going to retrain my brain was to write essays. From there, I thought I could try to write an hour of theater and practice memorizing it and working on it, and it would be a way to get me back to where I was before the accident. That’s really the reason I did it, for physical and mental therapy.

What do you want audiences to feel when they leave theater?

"#Ouch" is a cautionary tale and a call to action. I hope it inspires people to get their personal affairs in order, so that if tragedy should stirke they’re prepared. You know, people don't think about they day they’re going to need a doctor or a hospital. We’re not raised to be proactive about healthcare. It’s something you use in an emergency. But for women who are on their own, especially with families, I think it’s important to get all of that together, because it impacts their finances and their independence, and you don’t want to wait until you need it. I hope that’s the takeaway from my show.

How do you see the gender gap playing out in the industry?

You know, one of my favorite quotes comes from Rosie Shuster. She was one of the original women who wrote for “Saturday Night Live" and she had this quote where she says, “Women will work or not work in comedy based on who has to laugh.” Now, if guys are the ones that have to laugh, there won’t be a whole lot of women in the comedy business.

TV, movies and theater have always been a huge boys' club, because guys like to work with guys. Men don’t want to work with women, because men don’t want to be distracted and they think women belong at home. It’s still that way. Twenty or 35 years after I started out in the business, it’s gotten only a little bit better.

What do you think is the best way to combat the gender gap?

Women have to be proactive. It’s like my show, you know, you’ve gotta take care of yourself. Theater-wise, women have to write more plays. Women have to be motivated to do the work. They have to realize it’s going to be harder for them to get noticed, to get grants, to get backing. Women have to network with each other.

For example, at one point in my career, there had been a big class-action suit against Hollywood and the federal government told them they had to start hiring women. There I was sitting with my little script, and they had to find a woman that could walk and talk and, you know, write. So, the door was kicked open for me a little bit, but there were no other women in the building. That meant I had to get along with a bunch of guys. So, I had a choice. I could walk in as a victim or I could just say, “Hi, I’m your little sister, treat me right.” And I would tell my agent I wanted to get paid as much as the highest paid man in my position. Once I was told a man was being paid more than me because he had a wife and a family. I said, “Well, I do too. I have a husband and a family that I’m supporting.” You do have to stick up for yourself. Just working and writing in theater is a feminist statement.

 

Tess R. Ornstein, "Cherubim"

Courtesy of Tess R. Ornstein

Set in 1992,  Tess R. Ornstein's two-act play opens on a Los Angeles near implosion. The Rodney King trials run in the background, in the form of a TV churning through the images that led to the riots. The true story of King functions as a metaphor for the oppressive and enduring nature of institutionalized racism. His narrative runs parallel to the more pressing, open-ended drama of Ornstein's creation: the interracial Carmichael family struggling to stay sane as they search for their newly missing youngest, Kea. As tensions mount in and outside of their microcosm, what emerges is a troubling and (hopefully) galvanizing glance at the realities of bigotry and privilege. "Cherubim" is historical fiction that is not nearly historical enough, proof that art as activism is not limited to "very special episodes."

When I walk into a room, I have to prove myself out of the gate. Not because of some internalized discomfort about my place in a male dominated world, but because of how I’m treated.

 

What inspired you to write "Cherubim"?

I actually started writing [it] years ago now. In preparation for my senior thesis at Hampshire college, I started trying to figure out what exactly I wanted to do. My background there was in theater for social change, focusing on politically charged theater, using it as a tool for reform. I kept coming back to systemic racism and systemic police brutality. Now, and even a couple years ago when I first started writing, there’s a lot of hope for some actual reform, and yet somehow that’s not happened at all. I wanted to tap into the cultural prescience of 1992 Los Angeles and sort of examine that particular catalyst. And I then I wanted to come at it from the perspective of a family, from a character-driven place as a way in.

What do you want audiences to feel when they leave the theater?

I wanted to make sure the audience is engaged from a political perspective, to have them come away being moved to some degree. I wanted them to be able to see themselves in the characters, whether through one of the family members or either of the detectives on Kea's case. Wanting people to come away invigorated is the dream. I want them to leave the show and be like, “I need to be more active or, at least, be more open to these conversations in my day-to-day life."

The combination of activism and art is important to you, but can be tricky to combine the two.

It's definitely complicated. I think you can be political with your art without being overt with the message. It doesn’t have to be, “Hey, this is an activist piece.” To me, there are many forms of political expression through art. If you’re an artist and you’re in a position of privilege, I do think intersectionality is really important to consider in how we move through our day to day, but especially if we have the luxury of creating art for work. I think being aware and being edjucated is most important. For me, that also takes the form of wanting to see other women flourish in this industry that is undoubtedly dominated by men.

How do you see the gender gap playing out in the industry?

As a female director, writer or showrunner -- and I was all three for this particular show -- when I walk into a room, I have to prove myself out of the gate. Not because of some internalized discomfort about my place in a male-dominated world, but because of how I’m treated. There’s always some sort of inherent othering there. People are so accustomed to this idea that a director is a man, that a showrunner or a writer is a man. My mom has always encouraged me to not be apologetic for my powerful place as a woman. That’s something that I’ve tried to instill in my work.

What do you think is the best way to combat the gender gap?

What I try to do is be really really good at my job and really on top of everything. Especially for people who are coming at me with any sort of questioning attitude. I try not to give them the opportunity to have their experience with me on a professional level feed into their very, very incorrect assumption about women in production.

Unless I have a relationship with the person where I can have a real dialogue about sexism in the work place, the best that I can do is work as hard as I can. So that, also, God forbid, if those people have that really central way that they hire people, if it is like, “Oh, another chick, I don’t know if I wanna hire her” or whatever, that if they’ve had a good experience with me, they will then be inclined to hire more women.

 

Hannah Moscovitch, "Little One"

Courtesy of Hannah Moscovitch

It's a strange thing for a play to be scary, a difficult, highly psychological feat which requires much more than just atmospheric lighting. Outside of dramatic adaptations of The Turn of the Screw, there's not much in the way of thrillers set on stage. But Hannah Moscovitch's play is far more terrifying than anything a hysterical Henry James governess could ever dream up (or, you know, anything a malicious, real-life ghost could do to a perfectly sane governess). "Little One" is at once deeply poetic and unnerving, a meditation on sibling relationships, the nature of love and the dark horror of upper middle class existence that is '90s suburban life.

I don’t know how to fight it other than to write plays with strong, complex female characters, to just continue to make those plays and hope the world changes.

 

What inspired you to write "Little One"?

I was interested in a bunch of things that all kind of together made a play. I was interested in thrillers, ‘90s nostalgia and sibling dynamics -- something which is largely ignored in psychology -- and the question of how our identities are shaped within a family and whether those identities are true. A question I was interested in asking was: is there a limit of love? You know, is love really unconditional or is there a point where it becomes conditional?

What do you want audiences to feel when they leave the theater?

It’s meant to be a little unsettling in terms of people’s expectations of which of the siblings is the monster and then it’s meant to be unsettling because it’s a thriller.

It's hard to maintain a sense of fear on stage. How did you build that tension with "Little One"?

We don’t do that very often in the theater! It’s hard because in theater you can’t conceal and then reveal in the same way you can on film. It’s much harder to scare the audience. I worked very hard on that.

How do you see the gender gap playing out in the industry?

You know, there was just a big study in Canada, which indicated that since the 1980s there’s been no improvement in terms of equality, that female playwrights are still down in the 20th percentile and men in the 80th percentile in terms of which plays are being produced. It’s really hard to to know what impact my gender has on my career, but the statistics definitely suggest that it has one, right? And that it’s insidious! Like, it’s hard to know why my plays are picked up or not picked up for a particular season. No one has been quite so overt as to say, “You’re play is not getting picked up because you’re a woman,” but it definitely has an effect.

The vast majority of artistic directors are male and anyone making decisions about producing is a man, with one or two exceptions. I think bias and the desire to see yourself represented on stage play in unconsciously. One of the things I’ve noticed about my career is that when I write plays about male protagonists they get picked up more often, which is sad. And then I don’t know how to fight it other than to write plays with strong, complex female characters, to just continue to make those plays and hope the world changes.

What do you think is the best way to combat the gender gap?

I wish I had all the answers. For now, I do all the things that we think might work. I mentor young women. I have four or five women and I really push for them. I mention their work to artistic directors when I get asked, and I have recommended them to my agents and have worked with them on their plays. That’s something that I do specifically with younger women and emerging writers. So, I do those kind of things and write as many female roles as I can, and I think about that. I think about the breakdown of my plays and female roles. I mean, it doesn’t come hard to me, I’m a woman, right? So, I want to see myself represented on stage, and I write women who are authentically real and not coming into the play to mess things up for men.

These interviews have been edited and condensed.

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