Counting Actors: December 2018 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

Before I get to the numbers for December, an announcement.  After 7.5 years of counting data and logging over 1100 productions, this will be the final post for the monthly series. I’m going to take a little time to look over the collected data and decide what the next steps will be exactly, so please stay tuned.


December’s count includes 4 shows, bringing the total shows counted by the project to 1111 shows.  Kind of a cool number to wrap up with!

Here are the stats:

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Playwrights = 8; 2 women and 6 men.

Directors = 5; 2 women and 3 men.

Union Actors = 9; 5 women and 4 men.

Non-Union Actors = 21; 11 women, 9 men, 1 trans/non-binary.

Total Actors = 30; 16 women, 13 men, 1 trans/non-binary; 9 Union and 21 Non Union; 29 Local and 1 Non-Local.

Note: the trans/non-binary category counts artists who self-identify with pronouns other than he/she such as they, zhe, hir etc.  Artists who use she/her pronouns are included in the ‘women’ group and those who use he/him pronouns are included in the ‘men’ group.

Shows included in the December count:

  • Mary Poppins (SF Playhouse) Note: 5 men counted as playwright for this show: 1 book, 2 original music/lyrics, 2 new songs and additional music/lyrics; woman director and woman music director both counted as director for this show; child roles of Jane and Michael Banks were double cast and all 4 youth actors are included here. 2 non-union swings 1 male, 1 female not included in this count
  • Pike St. (Berkeley Rep)
  • The People’s History of Next (TheatreFirst) Note: program lists ‘written by everybody’ as playwright of the piece, so no playwright is counted here
  • Vampire Christmas (EXIT Theatre) Note: co-written by male/female team and both are credited.

A huge thank you to Matt Weimer for contributing shows this month, and to all who’ve contributed shows over the years, especially those who’ve contributed multiple shows over the years and months – not just Matt, but also Karen Thomson Hall and Anne Hallinan.  I haven’t counted who submitted the most shows to the project, but I’m sure these three would be the top finishers!  I also want to take a moment to thank Christine Young, for providing a platform for the project via the Works by Women San Francisco website.

Please share these numbers with your colleagues and use them to start (and continue!) conversations in the green room, the lobby or your favorite theater focused social media group.

Want to learn more? Visit the Women in the Arts and Media Coalition website and check out their studies page.  You’ll find links to regional, national and international data on representation of women artists in theater, film/tv, literary arts and more, including ‘Not Even, A Gender Analysis of 500 San Francisco/Bay Area Theatrical Productions 2011-2014 from the Counting Actors Project’.   This report, commissioned by WomenArts, compiled data from this project to study trends over time.  WWSF’s article about the report, including links to report graphics, key findings and raw data, can be found here.

Thank you all for reading and supporting this project over the past 7.5 years.  I’m certainly not wrapping up because I feel that the Bay Area has ‘solved’ gender representation.  I encourage others to find ways to keep the spotlight on who is making theater in the region, and I’m happy to have conversations about what that spotlight might look like.  I’m definitely not done working towards fair representation in the region.  I’m very excited by the upcoming Bay Area Women’s Theater Festival, headed our way in March/April 2020, as well as the new Transformative Justice Initiative coming out of California Shakespeare Theatre. Onward!

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