Tuesday, February 26, 2019

AWDA 2019

Hello and thank you for your interest in the Australian Women Directors Alliance. We're an active community and would love you to get in touch via our Facebook page:


This blog shows a history of our past work but for information on what we're up to now, including our project 365 Days: Australian Women Directing then please visit our Facebook page.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Applications are now open for MTC’s 2015 Women Directors Program.
Ten emerging and mid-career directors from Victoria will be offered the chance to familiarise themselves with the culture and inner workings of a major state theatre company and gain insight into its audiences, venues and ongoing core business over a 12 month period.
This program provides leadership training, practical career advice and coaching across a wide range of business and commercial aspects of the theatre industry, while also offering open access to all facets of the Company.
For further information about the program, and application criteria please download the files below
Women Directors’ Program information sheet
Woman Directors’ Program calendar
Please send applications to employment@mtc.com.au
Applications close COB Monday 20 October, 2014

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Women in Theatre: Issues for the 21st Century

I'd like to thank everyone who spoke at and attended the sold-out "Women in Theatre" conference last month, including those of you who watched the proceedings via the live streaming video.

Feedback has been enthusiastic and supportive, which motivates us to plan follow-up events for next year and beyond.

The conference is now archived on Princeton's WebMedia site.  Feel free to access the recording of the day's events and encourage your students, colleagues, subscribers, and anyone you think might be interested in hearing those stimulating panels to visit the archived video.

Keep an eye on this web page for valuable advocacy information, such as the materials already posted here.

And, join the Women-in-Theatre listserv sponsored by the Program in Theatre and the Program in the Study of Women and Gender here at Princeton.  Once it's up and running, it will be a useful resource for information sharing and discussion about all the relevant issues.  To join, send an email to me.

Thanks again for your support and your commitment to women working in theatre.

My best,
Jill Dolan
Conference Organizer


Tuesday, December 18, 2012


MTC has 4 paid Assistant Director positions available in 2013 for emerging and mid-career directors.  The positions will be divided equally between women and men. For more information and to apply, please visit our website: http://www.mtc.com.au/about/employment/employment.aspx.

Applications close COB Friday 18 January 2013.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Women should represent women - TED talk July 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

Female Director in Residence

In 2013, Malthouse Theatre again offers a paid residency for a female director. Over a 6-month period (timing can be flexible depending on the availability of the director) the recipient of the  residency will have access to company life in a professional performing arts company and be given opportunities to assist the Artistic Director Marion Potts and/or Associate Artist (Direction) Matthew Lutton.

To apply please send a two page application that includes a resumé and an outline of how the residency could enhance your practice as a director. Applications close 5pm Friday 9 November 2012.

Please email your application, marked “Directing Residency” to Emily Fiori at admin@malthousetheatre.com.au. Enquiries about the residency can be emailed to the same address or call 03 9685 5120.

This project is made possible through the support of Copyright Agency Limited.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Westside Circus appoints Sue Broadway as Artistic Director and Simon Clarke as CEO

Westside Circus is excited to announce the appointment of Sue Broadway as the new Artistic Director. In this part-time role Sue will continue to pursue her other projects and bring back to Westside Circus a new dynamic with her wealth of experience in circus and physical theatre.  This is a great opportunity for Sue to bring fresh artistic leadership to Westside Circus which has been established since 1996.

Sue has been working professionally for over thirty years in circus and physical theatre. Sue performed and directed all over the world until 1992, when she returned to Australia as Artistic Director of Circus Oz. She has been a recipient of an Australia Council Fellowship and a member of the Theatre Board from 2009 to 2011.  From 2006 to 2012 she was Chair of the Australian Circus and Physical Theatre Association.

Sue was the Circus Director for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Sydney Olympic Games and of the Doha Asian Games and Associate Producer – Circus and Street Events at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. As Artistic Director of Strange Fruit (2007 to 2010) she created Ringing the Changes for the Melbourne International Arts Festival and initiated a collaborative relationship with disabled theatre company Graeae in the U.K.  Sue is currently directing the Moomba Parade for the fourth consecutive year, consulting on the Moon Lantern Festival in Adelaide and has recently completed two projects in the UK working with young and emerging dancers and acrobats.

Lena Cirillo the current CEO will be on maternity leave from 2013.  Lena’s passion and commitment in taking Westside Circus to the next level by relocating the organisation to its new home in Brunswick and developing its community engagement programs, has made a significant difference to the organisation. Simon Clarke has been appointed as the new CEO while Lena begins her journey as a mother.

Simon has been working in theatre with a focus on young and emerging artists and youth audiences, for almost twenty years.  He has produced, directed and performed numerous independent shows and worked with companies such as Jigsaw Theatre, Spare Parts Puppet Theatre and Black Swan Theatre Company. In 2007 he was appointed CEO/Artistic Director of Southern Edge Arts in WA, a company working in theatre, dance and circus. He was elected to the Board of Country Arts WA in 2009 and was appointed vice chair in 2010. He chaired the WA Regional Arts Fund Panel and Country Arts WA's Regional Arts Development Panel.  In 2011 he joined the Board of Young People and the Arts Australia. Simon will lead the organisation with this strong foundation and a depth of experience that will add value to the next stage of Westside Circus development as a dynamic arts organisation focusing on work with and for young people.

“It’s an exciting time for Westside Circus, where great work and meaningful programs are being delivered to our diverse community.  Sue’s appointment affirms our commitment to creating high quality programs and performance through circus arts. Simon has a wealth of skills and knowledge and will lead the organisation through our next exciting phase” says Lena Cirillo, the current CEO of Westside Circus.

About Westside Circus:
Westside Circus is a ‘social circus’ providing programs that help young people build confidence, promote personal wellbeing and create positive relationships both with peers and the community through Circus Arts.  Westside Circus programs are dedicated to introducing young people from diverse social, economic and cultural backgrounds to the fun and benefits of circus and physical theatre. www.westsidecircus.org.au

MORE INFO: Sue Broadway will be available for interviews and photo opportunities after 23 October or by appointment phone interview. For all media enquiries and image requests, please contact Lena Cirillo on 03 9383 2299 or execdirector@westsidecircus.org.au

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


We are thrilled to hear that Lee Lewis has been appointed Griffin’s new Artistic Director, taking over from Sam Strong in January 2013.
Lee is currently Associate Director at Griffin and one of the country’s leading directors, having worked for numerous main stage companies, including Sydney Theatre Company (Honour, ZEBRA! and Love Lies Bleeding), Belvoir (That Face), Bell Shakespeare (Twelfth Night), and Griffin (Silent Disco, The Call and The Nightwatchman). She has also directed widely for independent theatre companies in Sydney.
Griffin Chair Michael Bradley made the announcement today, saying, “Lee Lewis is the perfect person to take over Griffin at this stage of its development. She has a deep personal passion for Griffin’s mission to be the voice and heart of Australian writing in the theatre. She is also a brilliant director and nurturer of new work. Griffin has enjoyed wonderful success in recent years and is rapidly becoming recognised as a critically important Australian cultural institution. Lee’s appointment marks the beginning of the next exciting phase for the company, its artists and its audience.”
Lee trained as an actor at Columbia University in the United States, working on Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, before returning to Australia to study directing at NIDA. She has been an outspoken advocate for increased cultural diversity on Australia’s main stages, and a leading voice for the representation of female directors and playwrights.
Her current show for Griffin, A Hoax by Rick Viede, closes at the SBW Stables Theatre this Saturday 1 September.
Sam Strong’s third and final season at Griffin will be announced Monday 3 September.

Is a women-only program sexist?

By Deborah StoneartsHub | Thursday, August 23, 2012

Choreographer Stephanie Lake admits to feeling a little ambivalent about Contemporary Women, the new Sydney Dance Company program that will premiere her latest work.
On the one hand she was thrilled with the opportunity to create a new work with the company’s dancers and delighted to be included with three other choreographers in a program of world premieres.
On the other hand she feels uncomfortable about a program that labels her as a woman. She’d much rather be described just as a choreographer. “I’m really happy to be a part of this program but in a way I wish this program didn’t exist. It’s frustrating because there are plenty of programs of mixed bills of work that are all male choreographers and nobody says that’s about nurturing male choreographers. The Australian Ballet’s 50th anniversary program was all male choreographers and that was not pitched as a celebration of male choreography. I don’t think audiences were going to see what male choreographers could do.”
The program for Contemporary Women is extraordinarily diverse. Lake has created a highly abstract work for seven dancers,Dream Lucid, using form, colour and magnetism to explore the flux between chaos and control. Adelaide’s Larissa McGowan has created Fanatic, a humorous media-inspired work responding to Alien and Predator movie fans venting on YouTube. Desire, by Brisbane-based Lisa Wilson, explores a range of responses from emotional connection to aggressive sparks and yield, by Sydney Dance Company’s Emily Amisano, considers how we come to know people through their actions, responses and boundaries.
There’s nothing particularly feminine –or indeed female – about any of them. “They are not about periods or anything. It’s not like I thought I will do a piece about menopause,” laughs Lake.
So why has STC Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela chosen to gather the works together as a program of women. Why not just Contemporary Choreographers?
Bonachela says there was more pragmatism than ideology around the title. He says while diverse programs are wonderful opportunities for an audience it is always difficult to find a theme to gather works together. When he decided to commission four choreographers for the Spring Dance season, choosing four women was an opportunity to create a theme.
“We are not focusing on the fact that they are women. They just happen to be women. They are four different pieces from four different choreographs all making great work. I wanted to bring them together because of their style and their talent and create new work and have a great evening of dance.”
Bonachela thought of making a Contemporary Women program after Wilson was awarded a Hephzibah fellowship, which gave her two weeks with SDC to create a new work. The result was so beautiful Bonachela wanted an opportunity to stage it, although that is not a criterion for the fellowship.
“I remember I was reading an article in The Guardian about how male dominated choreography was and that got me thinking. I realised that in Australia that’s not true. We have incredibly talented choreographers like Lucy Guerin and Meryl Tankard.”
In The Guardian article Judith Mackrell explores suggestions that men are more inclined to make aggressive, physical and showy works while women choreographers miss out on big commissions because they are focused on more intimate, emotional work.

If anything, the result of the Contemporary Women commissions shows such generalisations do not apply to this generation of Australian female choreographers. From Lake’s fluid abstract work to McGowan’s crazed physicality there is as much range as any director could want from a mixed bill.
Nor are women more likely to create work using women’s bodies. The works have the usual range of ensemble sizes. Lake uses seven because she asked for as many dancers as the company could provide and that was the upper limit. Wilson’s desire is a series of three duets exploring different aspects of desire: absence, physicality and memory. Amisano knows her dancers well as fellow company members and works with four dancers, playing on their personalities.
Perhaps because her own training was not through a traditional ballet path but through contemporary dance, Lake does not even think in terms of conventional dancing roles for men’s and women’s bodies. She does like working with men because she finds it easier to create a sense of weight in male bodies.
Bonachela did not want to pigeonhole the choreographers as women so there were not thematic restraints on their work. But the practical restraints were considerable, with work created in just two weeks and in most cases the dancers previously unknown to the choreographers.
The result, he says, is fresh, diverse and just great work that needs no tokenism or special nurturing to earn its place on the Spring Dance stage.

Friday, July 27, 2012



Australian Women Directors Alliance
AGM and General Meeting

Friday 10th August, 2012
Victorian College of the Arts
28 Dodds  Street, Sounthbank

Please RSVP and/or submit any items you would like added to the agenda to Lucy Freeman by reply email

We will gather in the downstairs foyer at VCA and make our way to a meeting room. Late arrivals please call 0400 093 533 for location detail.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Off Stage Women Run Second - The Age, 24 April 2012

WOMEN are losing ground in the struggle to claim a greater share of creative leadership in Australian theatre, according to a new report that shows Australia's biggest theatre companies are among the least likely to hire female writers and directors.

Women represent about two-thirds of theatre general managers and have a strong presence on theatre boards but more than 30 years after concerted efforts began to level the playing field, there are fewer female artistic directors and writers in the theatre than ever.
Women interviewed for the report said they were being held back by an almost ''feudal system of patronage'', with artistic directors acting ''like the monarch at the centre of their court''.

''It appears that there has, at best, been no progress over the decade since 2001, and there is evidence that the situation for women in creative leadership [in theatre] deteriorated over that time,'' said the authors of the Australia Council report, the University of Technology's Sydney Associate Professor Elaine Lally, and the University of Wollongong's Professor Sarah Miller.

The report, released today, was commissioned by the Australia Council after a tsunami of discontent broke over the Melbourne Theatre Company several years ago when it presented two seasons overwhelmingly dominated by male talent.

''[Artistic directors] say, 'I only choose what's best'. So why is there a predominance of white, middle-class men?'' was a typical response from the 44 people surveyed for the report. ''It's embarrassing and protectionist and reeks of elitism.''

The report found that between 2001 and 2011, only 21 per cent of the productions staged by Australia's eight biggest theatre companies had women writers, with 2011 the worst year for women writers since 2003. Only 25 per cent of productions had a female director over the same 11 years.

The researchers noted the number of female directors and writers hired by the major theatre companies had risen this year but the overall trend was negative. Women had a better chance of rising to the top in smaller theatre companies. Between 2001 and 2011, there were female playwrights in 37 per cent of productions, and a similar percentage of directors. Giving theatre directors a licence to make decisions based solely on their artistic vision was one reason it was so difficult to change the gender inequity, said the Australia Council's director of theatre, Lyn Wallis. ''The autonomous artistic director model makes it hard to break into a company'' because that person always says 'It is about my taste, my vision','' she said.

A lack of transparency about how decisions were made, the break in women's careers because of child rearing, and the different ways men and women promoted themselves and their work also needed to be addressed, she said.

Struggling to Break out of a holding pattern - SMH Article April 24, 2012

A new report suggests all-powerful, and usually male, artistic directors continue to sideline female creative talent, writes Wendy Frew.

Protectionist; a boys' club; a feudal system of patronage reeking of elitism.
This is a description not of a cosy white-collar world of corporate boards but of the men who hold the creative reins of Australian theatre.
They might cast women in male roles in Shakespeare or write dramatic roles specifically for our leading actresses, but a report released today by the Australia Council describes Australian theatre as a sector stuck in a holding pattern of male dominance.
It is a world where staging plays written by women or hiring women as directors is still considered commercially risky; where women who take time off to start a family find themselves professionally back at square one; and where no one talks about young female turks.
It comes as no surprise that women in the arts face the same challenges as women everywhere in the paid workforce: inflexible workplaces, expensive childcare, low pay and a sense of entitlement held by their young, male colleagues. As one woman in the report described it, theatre is a dinosaur trapped in a world of white, middle-class men.
But the report pinpoints the major stumbling block for women as the leadership model that gives a theatre's artistic director almost complete power over all aspects of a company's creative work. An artistic director's taste, personal preferences and idiosyncratic vision are crucial to the success or failure of any theatrical season. But what happens when most of the artistic directors are men?
The director of the Australia Council's theatre board, Lyn Wallis, says theatre directors have a permanent artistic licence that leaders in other industries don't.
''The theatre industry still holds onto that licence and holds it up high and that is one of the reasons we can't solve the problem [of a lack of women in creative leadership],'' Wallis says.
Rachel Healy, the executive manager of culture at City of Sydney and a former general manager of Belvoir St Theatre, says that while women are under-represented in artistic director positions, it is more complicated than just blaming the boys' club.
"At the very heart of what a board is asking an artistic director to do is to devise a program of shows based on his or her life experience, prejudices and preferences,'' she says. ''You can't then say 'We want you to apply all of your personal preferences but tick all these boxes for gender and ethnic equity'."
Healy believes young men have done well in Australian theatre in the past decade because artistic directors see something in their work that is original and worth cultivating.
Yet it is hard to back away from the premise that men will favour work by other men, for whatever reason.
"Even with the efforts [present Belvoir artistic director] Ralph Myers is taking to enfranchise young women, it is still the young men we are talking about," Healy says. "The reality is that [men] will mainly choose men."
She says the industry should not resign itself to that reality but she is not convinced quotas are the answer.
The founding chairwoman of the Women's Leadership Institute Australia, Carol Schwartz, says part of the answer is looking beyond the usual pool of talent and not relying on an artistic director's personal connections. It is incumbent on a theatre's board to make sure they have a big enough and broad enough pool of people to choose from that includes gender and cultural diversity, Schwartz says. Unconscious bias plays a big role, so ensuring gender equity on boards won't necessarily ensure more women direct productions or have their plays staged, she says.
''Women very often suffer from an unconscious bias about what a playwright looks like,'' she says. ''We have brilliant women playwrights in this country yet for some reason we don't have the same preponderance of women [as we do of men] as playwrights, directors, winners of literary prizes, even Archibald winners.''

For more details on the report check out: http://www.australiacouncil.gov.au/resources/reports_and_publications/artforms/theatre/women-in-theatre

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Women Playwrights' Roundtable outcomes - 1 Nov 2011

Women Playwrights' Solutions Roundtable report released

taken from australianplays.org

There’s been controversy recently about a perceived imbalance between opportunities for male and female practitioners in Australian theatre. At the same time, there's also been a lot of energy around ways to address the issue and move forward.

The Women Playwrights Solutions Roundtable, jointly supported by the Australia Council’s Theatre and Major Performing Arts Boards, took place on Friday, 12 August 2011 at the Richard Wherrett Studio generously made available by Sydney Theatre Company.

It was a gathering of women playwrights, theatre programmers and other key stakeholders who set aside a day to consider the under-representation of women playwrights in Australian mainstage productions and contribute practical ideas for a sector-driven response to the problem.

In its larger context, the Roundtable was one of several recent Australia Council initiatives to promote the fair and equitable inclusion of women in the core creative processes of mainstage theatre companies, the other main components being the Women Director’s Forum in May 2010, commissioned research and development of a reporting tool and guiding principles for Council supported theatre companies.

These initiatives are nearing completion and will be considered in their entirety by the Major Performing Arts and Theatre Boards in coming weeks.

The Women Playwrights’ Solutions Roundtable was facilitated by Gail Cork, director of the Australian Script Centre and a commercial mediator. Her report documents the processes and people involved, the substance of the discussion and the outcomes.

For the report, check out Australian plays.org

Monday, November 7, 2011

Laurie Penny: A woman's opinion is the mini-skirt of the internet - Friday 04 November 2011


You come to expect it, as a woman writer, particularly if you're political. You come to expect the vitriol, the insults, the death threats. After a while, the emails and tweets and comments containing graphic fantasies of how and where and with what kitchen implements certain pseudonymous people would like to rape you cease to be shocking, and become merely a daily or weekly annoyance, something to phone your girlfriends about, seeking safety in hollow laughter.

An opinion, it seems, is the short skirt of the internet. Having one and flaunting it is somehow asking an amorphous mass of almost-entirely male keyboard-bashers to tell you how they'd like to rape, kill and urinate on you. This week, after a particularly ugly slew of threats, I decided to make just a few of those messages public on Twitter, and the response I received was overwhelming. Many could not believe the hate I received, and many more began to share their own stories of harassment, intimidation and abuse.

Perhaps it should be comforting when calling a woman fat and ugly is the best response to her arguments, but it's a chill comfort, especially when one realises, as I have come to realise over the past year, just how much time and effort some vicious people are prepared to expend trying to punish and silence a woman who dares to be ambitious, outspoken, or merely present in a public space.

No journalist worth reading expects zero criticism, and the internet has made it easier for readers to critique and engage. This is to be welcomed, and I have long felt that many more established columnists' complaints about the comments they receive spring, in part, from resentment at having their readers suddenly talk back. In my experience, however, the charges of stupidity, hypocrisy, Stalinism and poor personal hygiene which are a sure sign that any left-wing columnist is at least upsetting the right people, come spiced with a large and debilitating helping of violent misogyny, and not only from the far-right.

Many commentators, wondering aloud where all the strong female voices are, close their eyes to how normal this sort of threat has become. Most mornings, when I go to check my email, Twitter and Facebook accounts, I have to sift through threats of violence, public speculations about my sexual preference and the odour and capacity of my genitals, and attempts to write off challenging ideas with the declaration that, since I and my friends are so very unattractive, anything we have to say must be irrelevant.

The implication that a woman must be sexually appealing to be taken seriously as a thinker did not start with the internet: it's a charge that has been used to shame and dismiss women's ideas since long before Mary Wollestonecraft was called "a hyena in petticoats". The internet, however, makes it easier for boys in lonely bedrooms to become bullies. It's not only journalists, bloggers and activists who are targeted. Businesswomen, women who play games online and schoolgirls who post video-diaries on YouTube have all been subject to campaigns of intimidation designed to drive them off the internet, by people who seem to believe that the only use a woman should make of modern technology is to show her breasts to the world for a fee.

Like many others, I have also received more direct threats, like the men who hunted down and threatened to publish old photographs of me which are relevant to my work only if one believes that any budding feminist journalist should remain entirely sober, fully clothed and completely vertical for the entirety of her first year of university. Efforts, too, were made to track down and harass my family, including my two school-age sisters. After one particular round of rape threats, including the suggestion that, for criticising neoliberal economic policymaking, I should be made to fellate a row of bankers at knifepoint, I was informed that people were searching for my home address. I could go on.

I'd like to say that none of this bothered me – to be one of those women who are strong enough to brush off the abuse, which is always the advice given by people who don't believe bullies and bigots can be fought. Sometimes I feel that speaking about the strength it takes just to turn on the computer, or how I've been afraid to leave my house, is an admission of weakness. Fear that it's somehow your fault for not being strong enough is, of course, what allows abusers to continue to abuse.

I believe the time for silence is over. If we want to build a truly fair and vibrant community of political debate and social exchange, online and offline, it's not enough to ignore harassment of women, LGBT people or people of colour who dare to have opinions. Free speech means being free to use technology and participate in public life without fear of abuse – and if the only people who can do so are white, straight men, the internet is not as free as we'd like to believe.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Australian Women Directors Alliance Meeting / AGM

Monday 24th October, 2011.
Wesley Anne (Beer Garden)
250 High Street, Northcote

Report on the 2011 Australian Theatre Forum outcomes
Presentation of Annual Budget
Informal social catch-up

All Welcome!
Please RSVP by reply email

Monday, July 25, 2011

Staging the gender imbalance: women in theater - Theatre Treffen Blog

Von Cory Tamler - 19. Mai 2011 - http://www.theatertreffen-blog.de/tt11/english-posts/staging-the-gender-imbalance-women-in-theater/

From the theme of the Talentetreffen, to a women-in-directing exhibit, to yesterday’s “Feminism: Today a Dirty Word?” discussion and more, gender has been a big topic at this year’s Theatertreffen. As the Theatertreffen Stückemarkt prepares to wrap up tonight with the awarding of the 2011 playwriting prizes, which include cash for the author and a production of the winning play, there are numbers that beg the question: what is the Theatertreffen as a whole really doing to contribute meaningfully to the gender debate – other than just talking about it?

We’re thrilled to see a debate happening on the blog – over a sexist-or-maybe-not-remarkHerbert Fritsch, invited twice to the Theatertreffen this year, and both times with a play centered on a strong female character (in the case of A Doll’s House, one of the strongest female characters in the dramatic canon). For you non-German speakers, it boils down to a little something like: Fritsch says he likes a woman who’s a “Luder” (hard to translate but suggestions include “hussy,” “minx,” or my personal favorite, “a sly cow”). Some folks find this sexist and unacceptable for a theater director because of the way that implies he interprets female characters onstage, others find it to be a mere personal preference and therefore don’t see the harm in it, still others seem to be worrying about how the actresses themselves must feel having to act out Fritsch’s female caricatures for an audience. from director

Personally, I’m inclined to say Fritsch can go ahead and show whatever he wants onstage – as long as there’s room left for other perspectives to be shown. It shouldn’t be a problem for him to tell a story the way he wants to tell it – as long as other stories are getting their chance to be told.

And in theory, everybody gets to tell their story. But there’s a big gap here between theory and practice.

The “post-migrant theater” movement represents one part of the population not getting its proportional share of stage time. Yet there is another group whose presence in the theater world is far smaller than it is in the real world, whose voice is not being heard, whose perspective isn’t being seen. So let’s look at it through some numbers, because after all, numbers are neutral, aren’t they?

Let’s start with the Stückemarkt. There are 15 playwrights listed among the “Stückemarkt Success Stories” (playwrights who were invited to the Stückemarkt in some capacity in past years and are now doing well). 3 of them are women. Huh? 20%? Are there really that few women out there writing plays? Are their plays really that bad? How does that 20% happen?

Well, let’s take this year as an example. Out of 356 submitted plays, 156 were written by women, 200 were written by men. So about 44% of the submissions were by women. Not quite half, but not terrible.

However, of the eight plays selected for the Stückemart (by a jury that is 40% women), only three have female authors. That’s down to 37.5%.

And not all Stückemarkt plays are created equal. Five of the plays receive staged readings; the other three playwrights receive a workshop. The idea with the workshop is that the plays are “less finished” – there’s more work to be done. Instead of receiving individual, fully staged readings, these three workshop scripts are lumped together into one “reading of excerpts,” to be shown tomorrow night.

Of the five plays receiving full readings, one was written by a woman.

So we’ve gone from a 44% representation among submissions to a 20% representation among selections. And if you were at the writer’s panel with the Stückemarkt playwrights last week, you wouldn’t have seen even that 20%; the playwrights at the table were all men. (And Simon Stephens, who opened the Stückemarkt with his keynote, is also a man – don’t let his luscious locks fool you.)

Another set of numbers can be found in the March 2011 edition of Theater heute. Some of them have to do with Germany as a whole:

  • There are 124 Intendanten (artistic directors) in Germany. 19 (15.32%) are women.
  • 29% of German theater directors are women.
  • Only among dramaturgs (48.5% women) and assistants-to-the-director (50.6% women) does it begin to even out. A majority of theater administrators are, on the other hand, women – just like in the USA.

Other numbers are specific to the Theatertreffen. Of the 472 total productions invited to the Theatertreffen from 1964-2010:

  • 34 (13.88%) were directed by women.
  • The very first production directed by a woman was invited in 1980, 16 years after the Theatertreffen was founded.
  • Of the 100 productions invited from 2000-2010, 11 were directed by women – a lower percentage than that of all 46 years taken together.

Fritsch liking a woman who’s “a sly cow” is no scandal, in and of itself. What is a scandal is that the Herbert Fritsches of the world get far more stage time and pay for their work than the Karin Henkels. What is a scandal is that male playwrights are the face of the Stückemarkt – that they continue to be the face of modern as well as of canonical drama. What is a scandal is sub-titling an exhibit about female directors “a male profession in female hands,” turning what should be a celebration of women in theater into an affirmation that theater belongs to men. And it’s oh, so nice of them to let us in.

Let’s be clear. I don’t like the idea of a quota and will not argue for one here. I don’t think it works and I think it is a lazy attempt at a solution. The problem is incredibly complicated. Tradition and history are naturally a part of it. The assumption that success for women in the field consists of succeeding within a male heteronormative structure that Leo beautifully criticized (in German) is another part of it. We also can’t write the gender disparity off as blatant sexism. The Stückemarkt plays, for example, were read anonymously; the jurors didn’t know the gender of the playwrights. So how do we assess the dramatic difference between the percentage of women applicants and that of selected female writers? Does this support the thesis that there’s some kind of empirically discernible “female aesthetic” that’s “boring” – or is it that “women just can’t write”? (In the States, the 2010 Wendy Wasserstein Prize jury seemed to be of a similar opinion. This is not a Germany-specific problem by a long stretch.)

And what about this: Uwe Gössel, the director of the International Forum at the Theatertreffen, says that every year the Forum receives far more female than male applicants (which they correct for in their selection, trying to create the “most diverse possible” group). Why is that? Could be because the proportion of women in the independent theater scene, which is where most of the Forum applicants come from, is also much higher than the proportion in the state-funded theaters. And that is also something that brings down the average pay for women in theater. It’s not just that they’re taking breaks to have babies (which is what every woman wants, after all!). It’s that they’re running groups like She She Pop and Gob Squad and Turbo Pascal, working at the boundaries of theater – and, in many cases, not because they couldn’t or can’t get a job at a state-funded theater, but because that isn’t what they want. As the independent scene gains influence and attention, maybe this implicit criticism of the traditional theater structure will lead to a gradual and organic change – more meaningful, with more lasting potential, than imposing any quota could bring.

The theater is a space where artists present their – naturally subjective – visions, preferences, interpretations and dreams. You may find, like Kathrin Röggla cautioned Theater heute, that “feminism has become unsexy”: but even if that’s true, you should still listen up. Because if theater is going to be a relevant part of modern society and a place where we are truly able to engage in meaningful discourse, it can’t continue to obsess over the dreams and visions of the white heterosexual European male.

Women in theatre: let's get rid of the equality myth - Guardian Theatre Blog

Women are under-represented in theatre – not for lack of interest, but because the industry is failing to provide long-term support.

Krystina Nellis Monday 18 July 2011 - www.theguardian.co.uk

We already know how the cuts in arts funding are going to reduce a lot of good companies to one show a year and possibly put some companies out of business entirely. But what I've not seen any discussion of, anywhere, is how these cuts will affect women working in the industry, possibly even more disproportionately than within other industries. Instead we seem content to parade a few "success stories" as examples of how all-inclusive the arts are, reducing legitimate achievements to a headline and unwittingly shutting the door to more women through sheer ignorance.

The Running in Heels blog recently published a list of successful female theatre practitioners, designed to demonstrate support to those achieving success within the arts. But showcasing a few successful women – often part of corporate structures, an entirely different prospect to the freelancers who actually drive the industry – implies that other women will only be interested in the arts if given permission. While trying to fix something that's not broken we're avoiding addressing the genuine issue of opportunity.

Persisting with the myth that women are under-represented due to lack of interest serves nobody. On my drama school MA alone, there were 30 women and six men on the course – hardly a dearth of interested, intelligent and engaged females. Lack of interest is not the problem; women are already flocking to the industry in their droves. Opportunity to progress, meanwhile, is nowhere near as bountiful. In assuming that simply bringing more women into the industry will fix under-representation, we're addressing completely the wrong issue. Surely the real goal should be supporting women to stay in the industry for longer than a few years, therefore at least partially addressing the frankly ludicrous turnover in the process?

Showcasing already successful women as an example of the industry's "equality" will, also, not help a young stage manager struggling in a career based on living in a different town each week, while managing any number of family obligations. Nor will lists like this negate the fact that a freelance fringe theatre producer is usually self-employed, and thus entitled only to the bare minimum statutory maternity leave. Add to that the fact that the rare staff roles are often more business-oriented than theatre production's creative drive, and we end up presented with the same glass ceiling bemoaned by businesswomen the world over. With those practicalities in mind, is it any wonder that many young women, forced to choose between an unstable career, family or sheer burnout, end up leaving the industry to the next generation of theatre's big cliche, middle-class, white men?

Women in theatre are too often stuck between a rock and a hard place. The work ethic of the arts industries is, by necessity, both notoriously "flexible" and demanding; it is what is thrilling and frustrating about the profession. It cannot be met with a government response to issues like maternity leave which ignores the industry's fundamental quirks, and leaves women with next to no support. The cuts will only make these issues more pressing, diminishing already scarce opportunities for a sustainable career further; opportunities which many women will have to forego due to their personal circumstances.

It will offend some quasi-liberal sensitivities to say so, but if we are truly serious about encouraging more women to achieve success within the arts, it's vital we now stop pretending equality prevails. Maintaining the status quo only prevents us from solutions that will enable women towards a sustainable career path. Until we do, using a few successful corporate examples as poster girls for the industry's supposed equality will only continue to disguise the massive inequality that is many female arts professionals' reality.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

DRAMA QUEENS - WHEELER CENTRE - Female Playwright Debate, 6:15PM - 7:15PM, Thursday 24 March

Wheeler Centre, 6:15PM - 7:15PM, Thursday 24 March 2011

Why do we see so few plays by Australian women?

Something, somewhere, in Australian theatre is not working. Are female playwrights not out there, or are they being denied opportunities? And if there is a problem, what’s being done? With calls of sexism and a push for the introduction of quotas, many Australian women playwrights are on the warpath. Playwrights Patricia Cornelius and Van Badham talk with Artistic Directors Marion Potts and Ralph Myers, moderated by Chris Mead from Playwriting Australia.


Patricia Cornelius

Patricia Cornelius is a playwright, novelist, dramaturge and founding member of Melbourne Workers Theatre.

Chris Mead

Chris Mead is artistic director of PlayWriting Australia.

Ralph Myers

Ralph Myers is Artistic Director of Belvoir Street Theatre and one of Australia’s foremost set designers. He has designed for most of the country’s major theatre companies, including extensively for Belvoir and Sydney Theatre Company as well as Melbourne Theatre Company, Bell Shakespeare, Griffin Theatre Company and Legs on The Wall.


A call for new and undiscovered playwriting talent

In Company Theatre has opened for short play submissions to be part of Off Cut 2011 – the short play festival where the audience votes for the winner.

There will be 28 plays chosen to be part of the festival at The Riverside Studios in Hammersmith.

Please click here for information on the Festival. We would be grateful if you could post it on any of your notice boards, online forums and websites.

There is no charge for submissions.

Please email us, if you would like any more information,

Please click here for details on full length production of the Off Cut 2010 Panel Writer Award winner. Sweet Engineering of the Lucid Mind by Mitch Feral runs at the Hen & Chickens Theatre from 29th March until 2nd April.

Janet Palmer
Production Manager, Off Cut– In Company Theatre

“The Off Cut Festival was a wonderful experience, not just winning but being involved. As a direct result of Off Cut I was signed by Lisa Babalis at The Agency and have been working closely with Ben Rix of Little Brother Productions which has resulted in them commissioning me to write a TV Series treatment. Then working with In Company to produce BENDER - my prize for winning the festival - was brilliant too! CLOSER TO GOD and BENDER are now both running as part of The Wet Rep at Waterloo East Theatre. I would recommend any budding or more established writers to get involved! “ Anna Jordan - Off Cut 2009 Winner.

“Just wanted to say thank you so much for asking me to be a judge for Offcut – I thoroughly enjoyed myself and was completely bowled over by the writing! It’s such a great showcase and concept” Lisa Babalis - The Agency - Panel Member 2010

“The professionalism of the entire company, which brought to life so splendidly not only my own play but all the plays I was able to see.” Virginia Hayden – Off Cut 2010 Writer

“I wanted to convey to all of you how much I enjoyed, and was impressed by, the plays and whole experience of Saturday night. You must all feel very proud of yourselves for creating such a successful festival. It was both informal and friendly as well as slick and professional. I enjoyed all the plays greatly, including the couple for which I held reservations. It was tricky having to award prizes when they were all so commendable!” Anna Brewer - Methuen Drama - Panel Member 2010

“Since the Off Cut Festival 2010 I have had some amazing opportunities come my way and it has really helped raise my profile as a writer. I have been in conversations with a very well known literary agent, have been approached by numerous producers regarding my work and have rekindled my links with BBC Writersroom and am now embarking on my first TV writing project. It has proved an amazingly fruitful, creative and positive experience and I would like to thank everyone involved for creating such a strong platform for emerging writers to showcase their talents. I shall definitely be looking to get involved again next year! ”Tanja Mariadoss - Off Cut 2010 Writer

“I was delighted to reach the final with my play The Trunk and quickly went on to collaborate with fellow Off Cutters to develop it at a second festival. The theory works. Off Cut is a great opportunity for writers to meet like minded talented individuals and develop their work” Mke Carter Off Cut 2010 Writer
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In Company Theatre Limited
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Monday, January 17, 2011

Assistant Directors


MTC has 4 paid Assistant Director positions available in 2011 for emerging or mid-career directors. The positions will be divided equally between women and men. For more information about these positions and the application process, please see

Applications close on Friday 11 February 2011 at 5pm.