A Stage of Their Own: Why Female Playwrights Are Still Marginalized
The UK Guardian has done some terrific reporting on gender parity issues in British theater in the last few years. This latest article by Ellie Horne explores the producing track record at the National Theater during the past decade under the artistic directorship of Nicholas Hytner. While the National’s 2014 annual report touted the fact that the multi-plex theater presented more work by women than men during the previous two-year period, closer analysis of the stats reveals a disturbing trend that will be all-too familiar to women writing plays in America: “big spaces are for men, while the smaller spaces associated with risk are where the work of female playwrights is far more likely to be seen.” Horne continues: “Reading these figures…you’d be forgiven for believing that maybe women don’t write plays appropriate to large theatre spaces. But anyone who has seen Anne Washburn’s Mr Burns, Lucy Kirkwood’s Chimerica and Lucy Prebble’s Enron knows that women are as capable of writing big plays asking big questions as men. Similarly, you might infer that there is a shortage of women working as directors, despite the fact that of the 812 responses to a recent survey by Stage Directors UK, 46% were from women.”
D.C. Women’s Theaters – Emerging on the Cheap
The D.C. theater market has been on our feminist theater watch-list ever since the announcement of the Women’s Voices Festival, a wide-spread effort by 60+ D.C. area theater companies to present theatrical work by women scheduled for Fall 2015. While acknowledging the significance and necessity of this project, in a recent article Washington Post theater critic Nelson Pressley notes “But it’s not as though female-focused theaters haven’t been on the job all along. The artists most dedicated to women’s work toil on the margins, operating on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder. Groups such as Venus Theatre, the Riot Grrrls and Baltimore’s Strand Theater Company produce when they can, putting up shows for a couple thousand bucks.” Pressley explores the history of feminist theater companies in the D.C. area (dating back to 1972 and the founding of the Washington Area Feminist Theater which eventually morphed into Horizons: Theater from a Woman’s Perspective which originated the award-winning musical A…My Name is Alice under the helm of Leslie Jacobson) and how “baseline poverty” and the lack of access to stable performance spaces has affected the scope of reach of feminist theater artists in the D.C area despite many artistic successes despite 45 years of nearly continual producing.
Mina Morita Named Artistic Director of Crowded Fire
Crowded Fire Theater recently announced the hiring of Mina Morita as the company’s new Artistic Director. Morita replaces Marissa Wolf, who resigned from her post in December 2014 to become Director of New Works at Kansas City Rep. Morita’s hire is the result of a national search that saw applications from over 40 talented candidates. As Artistic Associate at Berkeley Rep, Morita helped establish and run The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep’s Center for the Creation and Development of New Work. Mina also served as Board President of Shotgun Players for the past five years, during which she oversaw immense growth for the company. She will be leaving both positions to lead Crowded Fire in collaboration with longtime Managing Director and current Executive Producing Director Tiffany Cothran.
Beautiful Chaos: A Life in the Theatre
I moved to San Francisco during the summer of 1992, the year that Carey Perloff became Artistic Director at American Conservatory Theater, so I got to witness first-hand the incredible up-hill battle she faced when, as a 33-year old, she took the lead job at San Francisco’s flagship non-profit theater. As described by the San Jose Mercury News: “Carey Perloff’s first season running the American Conservatory Theater was very nearly her last. Audiences were fleeing from the S&M version of ‘Duchess of Malfi,’ and local Catholics were up in arms over ‘The Pope and the Witch.’ The theater was drowning in red ink, subscribers were bailing out, and many were pointing fingers at Perloff.” Perloff’s recently published memoir Beautiful Chaos: A Life in the Theatre chronicles the experiences, lessons, and perspectives she has gained during her career including her 23-year tenure at ACT. You can purchase a copy of the memoir here.
Michael Krasny and Carey Perloff will be in conversation onstage at A.C.T., 415 Geary St., San Francisco at 8 p.m. March 8. The event is free but register at www.act-sf.org, clicking on Special Events.
Steppenwolf Honors Laurie Metcalf
From Broadway World: “Steppenwolf Theatre Company hosts Emmy and Obie Award-winning actor and original ensemble member Laurie Metcalf as the guest of honor at the 2014/15 Steppenwolf Salutes Women in the Arts fundraising luncheon…The sixth annual luncheon brings together nearly 300 leaders from Chicago’s business and civic communities to honor Laurie Metcalf for her incredible contribution to the field and will feature an in-depth conversation with Ms. Metcalf and Steppenwolf Artistic Director Martha Lavey…Ms. Metcalf was one of Steppenwolf’s original ensemble members alongside fellow college classmates Jeff Perry, Terry Kinney, Joan Allen, John Malkovich and others.”
Shows to See
By Catherine Trieschmann
Directed by Robert Lundy-Paine
Produced by Virago Theatre Company
Featuring Jamella Cross, Angela Dant, Isadora Cross
Crippled teenager’s friendship with another girl threatens relationship with her mother.
Runs thru March 1st, The Flight Deck
* Join WWSF Meetup Group in seeing this show on Sunday March 1st at 2:00pm!
By Patricia Milton
Directed by Gary Graves
Produced by Central Works
Featuring Maura Halloran, Desirée Rogers, Danielle Thyss, Jan Zvaifler
A darkly comic intersection of foreign “black ops” and family politics
Runs thru March 29th, Berkeley City Club
* Join WWSF Meetup Group in seeing this show on Sunday March 15th at 5:00pm!
Dance Generators Showcase
Produced by University of San Francisco Performing Arts Department
Intergenerational dance company showcases original company-generated choreography
Free admission but email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a seat!
Runs Friday Februay 27th @ 1:00pm and Saturday February 28th at 7:00pm, Studio Theater on Lone Mountain (2800 Turk Blvd near Parker at the top of the hill)
By Julie Hébert
Directed by Jon Tracy
Produced by SF Playhouse
Featuring Susi Damilano, Cathleen Riddley, Tristan Cunningham, Carl Lumbly with scenic design by Nina Ball
Regional premiere tells story of three generations divided by race, culture and time
Runs thru March 7th, SF Playhouse
We Are Proud to Present…
By Jackie Sibblies Drury
Directed by Molly Aaronson Gelb
Produced by Just Theater
Featuring Rotimi Agbabiaka, Kehinde Koyejo, Lucas Hatton, Patrick Jones, David Moore, Megan Trout
A hilarious, imaginative and incendiary exploration of creativity, race, power and narrative.
Runs thru March 7th, Ashby Stage
By Nambi E. Kelley
Directed by Rhodessa Jones
Produced by African American Shakespeare
Runs thru March 8th, Buriel Clay Theatre
How the World Began
By Catherine Treischmann
Directed by Leah Abrams
Produced by Custom Made Theatre
Featuring Mary McGloin, Tim Garcia, Malcolm Rodgers
A firestorm erupts when a high school teacher makes and off-hand remark about God.
Runs thru March 8th, Gough Street Playhouse
Custom Made is offering WWSF readers a special 50% discount off general seating for any show. Buy tickets here with discount code “HTWBWW”.
By Danai Gurira
Directed by Jasson Minadakis
Produced by Marin Theatre Company
Featuring Jabari Brisport, L. Peter Callender, Elizabeth Carter, JaBen Early, Omoze Idehenre, Jefferson A. Russell & Katherine Renee Turner
Runs thru March 15th, Marin Theatre Company
Directed by Paige Rogers
Produced by Cutting Ball Theater
Featuring Madeline H.D. Brown, Hannah Donovan, Tim Green, Emma Crane Jaster, Paul Loper, Elissa Beth Stebbins, Wiley Naman Strasser, Jason Wong
Elegant tragedy about tyrranical power and civil disobedience.
Runs thru March 19th, EXIT on Taylor
Cutting Ball is offering WWSF readers a special 20% discount off general seating from 2/19-3/1 (cannot be used for discounted bench seats or Gala event on 2/21). Buy tickets here with discount code “WWSFAntigone”.