Welcome to the TACTICS (Theater Artists’ Collected Thoughts Insights Challenges & Strategies for Gender Parity Advocacy) interview series curated by Amy Clare Tasker.
Women are underrepresented on and off stage. The problem is clear. The causes are thorny, complex, and controversial; the solutions equally so. Many women and men have worked toward change for decades, and more are now asking, “What can we do?” The TACTICS interview series investigates what our community is already doing, what we’ve tried, and what we can do next to advocate for equal and better representation of women in theater.
Executive Director, Leviathan Lab, NYC
ACT: Who are you? Can you give me some background on how you came to be an advocate for gender parity in theater?
I am a 1st generation Filipino American and openly gay actor, singer, and producer. My three-year old non-profit theater and film production company has been an advocate for gender parity in theater and film since its inception with our Asian American Women Writers Workshop, and with actively seeking to promote women writers in film, with two screenplays in our 2012 Short Film Initiative written by women, including Off-Broadway playwright Susan Stanton.
ACT: What do you think are the most urgent or significant challenges women theater artists face right now?
Continuing lack of visibility, particularly for women of color, but especially for Asian American women.
ACT: What tactics have you used (or seen used) to advocate for gender parity in theater?
Seasons and special events dedicated to the work of women in theater.
One I have not seen, and think would be highly effective, would be doing something similar to what Signature Theater in NYC did for David Henry Hwang, and taking one major woman playwright and concentrating an entire season on her earlier, or little produced works.
ACT: What tactics have been most effective or least effective? Why do you think those tactics worked or did not work?
Mainstream theater in general has had very little by way of active tactics – so little, that it’s difficult to say what does or does not work! ANY effort at this stage is effective.
ACT: How do you measure the effectiveness of your advocacy actions?
We do not at present, other than the sheer amount of women we have utilized, including 10 writers, and most of our projects containing over 50 percent women in both cast and crew.
ACT: What is one action someone could take today that would make a difference?
Create at least one staff position in a company whose role is to keep an eye on diversity issues – a diversity officer if you will – and encourage/remind companies to advocate for gender and race.
Amy Clare Tasker is a San Francisco theater director and a member of “Yeah, I Said Feminist: a theater salon.” She is online atwww.amyclaretasker.com and @AmyClareTasker.
Stay tuned for her roundup of the Howlround Twitter conversation.