Counting Actors: January 2017 Statistics

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The Counting Actors Project is managed by Bay Area actor Valerie Weak, and began in June 2011 on her own blog. Works by Women San Francisco began hosting the project in February  2014.  The archive of all past posts can be found here

General information about the project, as well as selection criteria for shows and a show submission form are here


January’s count includes 8 shows, bringing the total shows counted by the project to 847 shows.

Here are the stats:

Jan 2017


Playwrights = 9; 4 women and 5 men

Directors = 9; 4 women and 5 men.

Union Actors = 15; 7 women and 8 men.

Non-Union Actors = 26; 16 women and 10 men.

Total Actors = 41; 23 women and 18 men; 15 Union and 26 Non Union; 36 Local and 5 Non-Local.

Shows included in the January count:

  • Daniel’s Husband (New Conservatory Theatre Center)
  • Hedda Gabler (Cutting Ball Theater)
  • Native Son (Marin Theatre Company)
  • Gertrude Stein and A Companion (Theatre Rhino) Note: Co-directed by a male and female director
  • Belleville (Custom Made Theatre Company)
  • Emelie: The Marquis du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight (Ross Valley Players) Note: Female actor plays role of Voltaire
  • Crimes of the Heart (TheatreWorks)
  • On Beckett (American Conservatory Theater) Note: Show is ‘conceived and performed by Bill Irwin’ – I’ve credited him as director.  Text includes both Beckett text and Irwin’s thoughts on that text, so counted both as writers

Thank you so very much to the audience members, cast, theater staff and production team members who used the Counting Actors form to contribute show info this month, including Anne Hallinan, Rosie Hallett, Matt Weimer and Cat Luedtke.

Please share these numbers with your colleagues and use them to start conversations on a break at rehearsal, the bar after the show, or in the lobby before they open the house.  If you’re seeing or working on a show with February performances, go here to learn how to share the info with the project.  It’s a quick and easy form that takes less than five minutes to fill out!

Want some bigger picture info?  On April 28, 2015 as part of the international celebration of Support Women Artists Now Day/SWAN Day, the Counting Actors project released ‘Not Even, A Gender Analysis of 500 San Francisco/Bay Area Theatrical Productions 2011-2014 from the Counting Actors Project’.

An article about the report, including links to report graphics, key findings and raw data, can be found here.   Please read and share the report as well.

This report was commissioned by WomenArts, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the visibility and employment of women artists in all art forms.  As part of its mission, WomenArts maintains a Women’s Employment in the Arts webpage, which has links to studies of women’s employment in various art forms.

Statistics for February will go up between March 1st and March 5th.


6 responses to “Counting Actors: January 2017 Statistics

  1. Thanks Evy – I struggle with those who see good news in the increased number of women working non-union when male union actors continue to make up a majority of the union actors (granted, this month is closer to even in that category). A union actor is earning a weekly salary, often with benefits like pension contribution and points towards health care coverage, and a non-union actor is working most likely for stipend that is at best 50% of the weekly union salary, and has no access to the additional benefits. I’m not sure how to make this issue more clear via this report for those who aren’t already familiar with these compensation differences. I know this probably wasn’t part of your intent in commenting, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about.

    • You are (as usual), Valerie, absolutely right. I scanned so quickly I was oblivious to that disparity and it is not good. I was fooled by the 1 actor difference between the equity actors — that I didn’t factor in that so many roles were being played by non-equity women actors — without a minimum salary, benefits and other protections. What are the tools and tactics for overcoming this disparity? And, I do realize that women playwrights have to advocate forcefully that equity contracts go to women.

      • I think one tool is awareness. Another tool is making a commitment, as Rebecca Ennals and SF Shakes have done, to using contracts equally for male and female artists (SF Shakes commitment also extends to hiring artists of color). And we all have to advocate for each other. Female playwrights can say ‘I want a female director’. Female directors can say ‘I want women in these roles’ Female actors can say ‘hey artistic director and director friends, do you know this female playwright?’ I firmly believe that recommending and promoting the talented women around us leads to more opportunity for all.

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