What Can We Do About It?

stockimage2This Thursday, Marisela Treviño Orta and Amy Clare Tasker will co-moderate a Twitter conversation, continuing Howlround’s focus on gender parity in theater that began in last week’s conversation.

This week’s Howl will focus on advocacy best practices and concrete ideas for action. Knowing that last week’s conversation took off so quickly, and recognizing the limitation of 140-character tweets, Marisela lays some foundation for getting the most out of the Howl.

Please join us on Thursday, May 2 at 11AM (PDT) on hashtag #newplay.

It’s Time For Action

We know theater has a gender parity problem. So now what? We want to talk about concrete ideas for action. Ideas for artists, audiences, and arts leaders looking to affect change locally and nationally. This week’s Howl is a chance to share and brainstorm ideas for action, and find others in your area to connect with on this issue.

In her TACTICS interview series, Amy Clare Tasker has collected many answers to the question “what could someone do today that would make a difference?” Here’s just a taste of the variety of tactics at work right now:

  • If you’re a woman artist struggling with these challenges then one thing you can do right away is stop beating yourself up for the glass ceilings you’re running into. Save the energy you’d spend being angry at yourself and put it into efforts to make change! (Rebecca Novick)
  • Write a letter—to a director, a theater company, an artistic director—and tell them why you do or don’t like their track record when it comes to gender. (Lily Tung Crystal)
  • Buy a ticket to a play by a woman, and bring a man with you. (Emily Kaczmarek)
  • Instate blind submission new play policies at your theater. (Laura Shamas)
  • Educate yourself on female playwrights. Whenever I’m asked to do two audition pieces, I’ll have at least one written by a female playwright. Keep the women visible. (Valerie Weak)
  • Educate the people in your life who are not theater makers – speak with your theater-loving friend, the parents of your students, your coworkers, your family. When the audience starts making a ruckus, positive or negative, that will be when the theaters really sit up and take notice. (Lauren Bloom)
  • Pick up the 3 to 1 challenge. For every all male show you see, see three all female productions. If you can’t find one to see, make one yourself. (Emily Davis)
  • Find opportunities to talk with other women artists about your concerns so that you can come up with strategies together. (Martha Richards)

The Power of Many

One suggestion that came up several times in last week’s Howl was the recommendation that advocates make a special effort to see plays by women. I’ve been thinking about this lately and the analogy I’ve hit upon is voting.

Every vote counts, right? But on Election Day, political parties will organize voters, even drive groups of them to polling locations. They do this to get the vote out. And it works.

How does this apply to theater and seeing plays by women?

Well, we need to get the vote out. We need to get people in the seats, but not just that. I mean, how do we know that theaters are interpreting people in the seats as support for work by women, as opposed to an interest in the topic, the playwright, the theater itself or some other factor?

That’s what I love about the Works By Women model for organizing groups of women to attend plays. Going in a group is a way of flexing political muscle, it demonstrates ticket buying power and support for theaters that produce women. A small to medium size theater will definitely notice when a group of twenty women come in together to see a show. And that’s what I’m interested in, I’m interested in theaters seeing that cause and effect—that a play by a woman gets support, has an interested audience.

This model started in New York and inspired women in San Francisco to organize a similar initiative. What would it take to start a Works by Women group in your city?

Bring Your Ideas

For this week’s Howl, bring your ideas for concrete action. Consider how artists can work in groups or coalitions so that we can leverage our networks, voices, ticket-buying power and experience.

Share what’s worked for you. What hasn’t worked. What lessons you’ve learned. What challenges you still face. What’s the next idea you intend to try.

We hope that the conversation will generate new ideas, tactics and initiatives that help us all find ways to move the work forward both locally and nationally.

See you on Thursday!

Marisela Treviño Orta is a San Francisco based playwright and member of the Yeah, I Said Feminist Theatre Salon. Marisela is currently participating in her second year of AlterLab, AlterTheater’s resident playwright program.

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6 responses to “What Can We Do About It?

  1. Pingback: TACTICS: Interview with Jennie Webb | Works by Women San Francisco·

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