By Richard Watts ArtsHub | Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Blogs have been ablaze with debate about the issue, and mainstream newspapers such as The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald have also weighed into the discussion.
Much of the debate has centered on the lack of opportunities for women directors, and to a lesser extent the opportunities for women playwrights; and both the Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC) and Sydney’s Company B Belvoir have been singled out for criticism, following the recent unveiling of their respective programs for 2010.
Of the seven mainstage productions at Company B next year, only one – That Face, by UK playwright Polly Stenham – is being directed by a woman, Lee Lewis.
In response to Company B’s program, Sydney playwright Joanna Erskine wrote on her blog [http://www.joannaerskine.com/cluster/?p=368]: “As I listened to the remainder of the 2010 line up announcements, however, my heart sank and my blood seemed to boil. For in the following 6 mainstage productions and 3 add-ons, there was no mention of female directors or playwrights … I struggle to understand how such a prominent and successful and LOVED company such as Company B Belvoir, has openly produced such a female-less season. I don’t mean actors, I mean females in integral creative roles – as playwright and director.”
In Melbourne, similar reactions met the unveiling of the 2010 MTC program, which features 12 productions, of which only one is directed by a woman: Hannie Rayson’s The Swimming Club, directed by Kate Cherry.
Lucy Freeman is the Chair of the Australian Women Directors’ Alliance, which recently wrote to the MTC to express concerns about the company’s lack of support for female directors. She says she is concerned that the situation at the MTC shows no signs of improvement.
“If we could see signs that there were professional development pathways or schemes put in place to make entry of women directors into the fold a little easier then we might imagine that the situation will be better in five to ten years. But the situation hasn’t got any better, in fact it’s got worse,” she tells ArtsHub.
“And the other concern is a more cultural one. I worry about what happens to the cultural product when the authoritative figures, the creative decision makers, are all coming from one sector of the community in what is otherwise an obviously two gendered and quite multicultural environment in Melbourne and Victoria; that perhaps our state company isn’t, in its creative leadership position, necessarily representative of the society that makes up the audience.” (CONTINUED)
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