6/27 – This Week in Feminist Theater

1403463189926The Kilroys Release THE LIST of Plays By Women

The biggest buzz in feminist theater news this week continues to be the release of a THE LIST, a list of 46 new plays written by women that artistic leaders most highly recommend for production. THE LIST was created by The Kilroys, a group of LA-based women playwrights and producers, whose motto is “We Make Trouble. And Plays.”

According to their website, “the Kilroys are a gang of playwrights and producers in LA who are done talking about gender parity and are ready to act. We are mobilizing others in our field and leveraging our own power to support one another. Founded in 2013, The Kilroys are named after the iconic graffiti ‘Kilroy Was Here’ that was first left by WWII soldiers in unexpected places, a playfully subversive way of making their presence known.”

The Kilroys are Zakiyyah Alexander, Bekah Brunstetter, Sheila Callaghan, Carla Ching, Annah Feinberg, Sarah Gubbins, Laura Jacqmin, Joy Meads, Kelly Miller, Meg Miroshnik, Daria Polatin, Tanya Saracho, and Marisa Wegrzyn.

More from the website: “THE LIST includes the results of the first annual industry survey of excellent new plays by female-identified playwrights. It is a tool for producers committed to ending the systemic underrepresentation of female voices* in the American theater.

American theater professionals have long expressed an urgent desire to address the undeniable gender disparity on our stages. And yet the problem persists: Regional surveys routinely show significant bias towards production of plays by male authors. In three widely-discussed studies of plays produced in the 2012-2013 season, only 10.5% on Broadway, 21% in Washington, D.C., and 22% in Los Angeles were written by women.

To address this situation, The Kilroys surveyed 127 influential new play leaders to compile a mighty brain trust. Their responses showcase the abundance of excellent new work being written by women today: These experts identified more than 300 plays as among the best work they had encountered in the past year.

THE LIST comprises the 46 most recommended plays from this survey. In order to be eligible, a play must have been 1) unproduced or have had only a single professional production 2) by an author who identifies as female and 3) among the most excellent seen or read by the industry professional within the previous twelve months. The invited responders included Artistic Directors, Literary Managers, Professors, Producers, Directors, and Dramaturgs who had read or seen at least 40 new works in the last year. Each expert recommended three to five plays. To ensure unbiased results, responses were anonymous. All identifying information of recommenders was tracked separately from their recommendations in the survey software. The members of The Kilroys did not vote.

The Kilroys believe THE LIST will be an important resource for theater leaders in season planning, bringing us one step closer to finally achieving our common goal of gender-inclusive production on American stages.”

You can see a complete list of all the nominees here and a list of the voters here. The intention is for THE LIST to be published annually, and there is a link on the website to nominate yourself as a future voter.

THE LIST has already generated quite a bit of press including a New York Times’ article titled “Creating a Supply Chain of Work by Female Playwrights” (and a letter of support to the editor by League of Professional Theatre Women), a video news story on HuffPost Live titled “Advocacy Group Demands More Plays By Women”, and an in-depth HowlRound interview titled “The Kilroys Were Here: Moving Playwrights Into Production.” Let’s hope the buzz keeps ringing in Artistic Directors’ ears!

Female dramatists dispel gender concern

p10-tanaka-gender-a-20140619-200x200Nobuko Tanaka of the Japan Times writes about three rising female dramatists who are all set to present their new works this summer: Mei Usui of Rising Tiptoe, Misaki Setoyama and Honoh Hirokawa at “at Za-Koenji, a major publicly-financed theater in Tokyo’s Suginami Ward”. The three “Tokyo-based thirtysomething artists has not only started her own theater company, but they are also aiming to make their mark at home and overseas”.

Nidal Achkar: Women Make the Best Presidents

Rayane Abou Jaoude of the Lebanon Daily Star interviews renowned actress and director Nidal Achkar as part of a series of weekly articles interviewing pioneering Lebanese women.

“Credited with kicking off the modern theater movement in Lebanon back in the ’60s, Achkar is the woman behind the Beirut Theater Workshop, the Arab Actors theater company and cultural institute Masrah al-Madina. Considered a revolutionary figure within the arts, to this day she continues to work both on stage and off.

She attributes her radical approach to her upbringing. Decades before equality became an established right, Achkar was fortunate enough to have been treated just the same as her brothers, with all of them encouraged to get a good education.”

Shows to See This Weekend

The Language Archive at City Lights

You will remember that our Meetup group had seen Symmetry’s fantastic production of Julia Cho’s The Language Archive.  City Lights Theater’s fabulous production of the play, directed by Virginia Drake, is currently in the South Bay. Don’t miss it for this very simple reason: “Because it’s a universal story about how everyone wants, more than anything, to be understood.”

Runs through 6/29.

Brahman/i at Crowded Fire

The West Coast premiere of “A One-Hijra Stand-Up Comedy Show”, written by Aditi Brennan Kapil and directed by Erin Merritt. 

“A stand-up comedy routine that takes on history, mythology, and high school through the lens of a feisty Indian intersex youth named Brahman from Athens, Georgia. Tethered by neither gender nor culture, Brahman examines both with a ferocious wit and a no-holds-barred attitude. In its world-premiere production critics declared Brahman/i ”goes for the funny bone!” and is “full of sharp observations, heartbreaking truths, hilariously told anecdotes, and entertaining takes on history.”

Runs through 6/28.

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