Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Equal Opportunity

Dear Fellow Directors,
what a sorry state of affairs that we are again spending our precious time trying to win a battle that was legally won for us decades ago. Equal Opportunity Law should have prevented this current situation where only one woman is employed to direct a mainstage show at both MTC and Belvoir in 2010.(Haven't looked yet at the other seasons -maybe someone else could dare to do this) What a shame too that my very constructive and inviting letter to the Board of the MTC was ignored.
You know I begin to wonder how anyone with any principles ( male or female ) can bring themselves to work for and support major companies who continue to exersise such discrimination across race and gender.Do we no longer have any pride or principles in the arts? I thought we were FOR humanity not mere self -interest.
So what do you all think. Where to now?
Melanie Beddie


  1. To direct at the MTC is not every directors dream. It is no the only place to direct theatre in Victoria. However, it is our state's flagship theatre company and one of the few fully professional, tax payer supported entities so I feel the POSSIBILITY of being appointed SHOULD exist for Victorian based women theatre directors. Lasts nights MTC program launch again illustrates that just becasue the opportunity SHOULD exist does not mean it DOES. In 2006 of 11 MTC productions, 1 was directed by a woman (Kate Cherry). In 2007 of 12 MTC productions, 1 was directed by a woman (Kate Cherry). In 2008 of 12 MTC productions 2 were directed by women- NSW based Gale Edwards and a UK import Marie Aitken. In 2009 of 12 MTC productions 2 were directed by women - both NSW based - Cate Blanchett and Marion Potts. Now in 2010, as Melanie Beddie points out, there is again one female appointment, Kate Cherry. In five years have there really not been Victorian based female directors worthy of a gig? If there are Victorian women of excellence capable of directing theatre (which I wholeheartedly believe there are)- why are they not getting the work? And conversely, if one wished to argue that there are none capable of directing on the main stage, then that itself begs the question WHY? Where are the opportunities? Where are the professional development pathways? Where is the evidence that Victorian women are not capable? Is the current MTC equal opportunity policy effective? And so it seems that we women who are already time poor running independent theatre companies, raising families, educating ourselves, educating others, developing new works, producing semi-professional and co-op productions and lodging countless time consuming creative development and presentation funding applications must add to our 'to do' list changing an overarching patriachal mentality that is ever present in our industry. The AWDA will not be the first group of women to attempt to affect change. But wouldn't it be nice if we were the last? I am absolutely appalled that in the 21st century when women in all was of life are managing big budgets and assuming positions of authority, that in theatre we are still in a position where we have to argue/convince/lobby to insist that we are not only capable but entitled to basic equal opportunity rights. An almost equal percentage of tax payers are female, a higher proportion of MTC audience members are female, plays written by women being produced at the MTC is on the rise. The available roles for female performers at the MTC looks pretty good this year (you know if you are not a female of diverse cultural heritage) ... so why is there not a rise in the appointments of women directors? Is it because a director is seen to asume a leadership role and hold a position of creative authority? Is so, shame. Shame on all concerned.

  2. Thanks Lucy for a lucid and deservedly furious post. Mel

  3. You have said it all Lucy, it simply does not make sense. In publishing and other creative industries women have been leaders for years so why are female directors being ignored. I reckon there's something else going on? Chris

  4. Sorry Mel, I am not an experieced blogger and accidently put my post as a comment on your post AND it now appears a post of its own. That's a lot of words from me in one day isn't it! Lucy