On Saturday, May 23rd, more than 50 women and men packed into the EXIT Mainstage to participate in a 2-part theater symposium co-hosted by the “Yeah, I Said Feminist.” Theatre Salon and DIVAFest.
Part 1 of the Symposium, titled “Artists as Advocates”, explored specific approaches theater artists are using to advocate for gender parity and better representation of women onstage. Moderated by Fontana Butterfield Guzman (founder of YISF Theatre Salon), this panel featured Valerie Weak (Counting Actors Project), Amy Clare Tasker (TACTICS Interview Series – Theatre Artists’ Collected Thoughts Insights Challenges & Strategies for gender parity advocacy), and Marisela Treviño Orta (host of HowlRound’s national Twitter conversation on best practices for Gender Parity Advocacy) sharing thoughts about the specific dynamics and impact of recent advocacy efforts.
Part 2 of the Symposium, titled “Advocates as Artists”, examined artistic strategies for putting women’s stories center stage and how awareness of gender influences the artistic process of playwrights, directors, and artistic directors. Moderated by Christine Young (Works by Women San Francisco), this panel featured Kirsten Brandt (Associate Artistic Director, San Jose Repertory Theatre), Anthony Clarvoe (Playwright and man!), Rebecca Ennals (Playwright/Director/Artistic Director, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival), Susannah Martin (Director/Associate Artistic Director, Shotgun Players), Amy Mueller (Artistic Director, Playwrights Foundation),and Elizabeth Spreen (Playwright).
Stay tuned for an edited transcript of the conversation!
Bay Area actor Valerie Weak (see above) has been conducting her Counting Actors Project for nearly two years. Using a defined rubric, she invites artists, producers, and audience members to submit data about the gender of writers, directors, and actors, and the numbers of union/non-union and local/non-local actors. Since June 2011, she has collected data on nearly 270 shows. She offers a detailed analysis of data from 230 of those shows in her May/June article for Theatre Bay Area, as well as commentary on the data from local artists. To learn more about Valerie’s project or to contribute show info, visit her blog, Bay Area Actor.
An excerpt from the article:
“The trend for actor gender parity is that women and men work in close to equal numbers at the lower levels of compensation (non-Equity shows and BAPP shows), but at the higher levels, actor gender parity is not achieved in general numbers or in union actor numbers. This comes as a surprise to actor and teaching artist Reggie D. White, who realizes while looking at the data with me that, like racial privilege, gender privilege is ‘invisible when you have it.'”
Looking at the gender parity for directors, women and men work in closer to equal numbers at the lower three levels, but only make up 43% of the directors working at the top level. While directors may not be covered by the Equity contract, the higher level of contract a theater uses, the more likely they are to have additional resources and higher income level for directors, as well as additional prestige/profile for the director’s resume. When freelance director Josh Costello looks at this data, he notes, “Whenever I am confronted with numbers like this, and whenever I talk shop with other directors about how we all try to get work, I am forced to consider how my own career must have benefited from this lack of parity. That’s tremendously humbling, and it has inspired me to think long and hard about what I might be able to do about it.’”
Veteran news anchor Sandi Klein is hosting an amazing new podcast, The 51%: Conversations with Creative Women. This series “captures the fire and energy, humor, heart, soul and impact of the female creative experience. It’s been a long time coming, but women FINALLY comprise a large and important part of the creative landscape. They are powerful forces in theater, film, television – as performers, writers, directors – as musicians, composers, painters, sculptors, curators, fashion designers, as chef and restaurant owners, as businesswomen, scientists, educators, investors and on, and on, and on.”
Check out her first podcast with McCarter Theatre Artistic Director Emily Mann here. This detailed interview includes perspectives about her directing of the first multi-racial production of A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway.
Where do we go when we die? In Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s dark and dazzling 410[GONE], that all depends on how you play the game. The stakes couldn’t be higher when a young woman goes in search of her lost brother in the Land of the Dead.
Women working on the project include: actors Cindy Im (AEA) & Charisse Loriaux, dramaturg Laura Brueckner, designers Stephanie Buchner (Lights), Sara Huddleston (Sound), Keiko Carreiro (Costumes), Devon LaBelle (Props), stage manager Mina Sohaa Smith. Crowded Fire is also a woman-led company – Marissa Wolf (Artistic Director) and Tiffany Cothran (Managing Director).
After the show, we’ll head a few blocks up the hill to Blooms, 1318 18th street, between Missouri and Texas, and have invited the cast and crew to join us.
To buy a ticket, please visit the Crowded Fire website, and follow the ticket purchasing prompts on their site.
Enter the code WWSF for a $3 discount on your ticket. Ticket total price will be $20 for an adult ticket/$17.45 for a TBA/TCG member ($3 service charge included)