ACTIONS TOWARDS THE ELIMINATION OF
DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN IN THEATRE
1979-89 Women’s Committee of Dramatists Guild is organized by Gretchen Cryer
1981 – League of Professional Women in Theater is founded by Julia Miles, www.theatrewomen.org
1989 – Women’s Committee of Dramatists Guild stops meeting.
1989– Coalition of Professional Women in Arts & Media is founded, www.nycwam.org
1997 – A group of women request to revive the Dramatists Guild Committee for Women. Board of DG and then executive Director Richard Garmise deny request.
1998 – The Guerrilla Girls begin addressing discrimination against women in theatre with “In this theatre…” sticker placed in toilet stalls of theatres in NYC that do not include any plays by women in their mainstage seasons.
1998 – Women in Theatre: Mapping the Sources of Power, On the 20th Anniversary of the Women’s Project and Productions at The New School with support of Ford Foundation.
2000 – 2009 – Less than 20% of the plays produced or presented in workshops or readings in the Greater Los Angeles Area are written by women. – LA Female Playwrights Initiative
2001 – Guerrilla Girls split into three new groups. The theatre girls form Guerrilla Girls On Tour, with a mission to end sexism in theatre. They use the Tony Awards to stage a protest shedding light on sexism in theatre. Mother Jones Magazine covers the protest.
2002 – Release of a study, “Report on the Status of Women: A Limited Engagement?” prepared for the New York State Council on the Arts Theatre Program by Susan Jonas and Suzanne Bennett with stats gathered by Guerrilla Girls On Tour!
2003 – Women Count, a group of concerned dramatists come together and request the Dramatists Guild to revive the Committee for Women. Request is again denied.
2004 – Guerrilla Girls On Tour premiere new play “The Herstory of Women in Theatre”, uncovering the vast contributions women have made to the art form.
2005 – The League of Professional Theatre Women include Guerrilla Girls On Tour in their CUNY-TV show “Dialogues with Notable Women In Theatre.” The GGOT’s name the Roundabout Theatre and the most sexist theatre company in New York City with a continued record of producing no plays by women and not hiring any female directors.
2007 – Support Women Artists Now (SWAN Day), begins as an annual event by WomenArts.
2008 – Playwright Julia Jordan organizes meeting at New Dramatists to discuss gender disparity in theater.
2009 – An ad hoc group of 6 or so Dramatists Guild members meet and recommend that the Guild take concrete steps to address gender disparity.
– Emily Glassburg Sands unveils the results of her economic study on discrimination against women in theatre at townhall meeting in new York City.
– An event – “50/50 in 2020: Parity for Theatre Artists,” is held by League, Women’s Project, and New Perspectives Theatre resulting in a new group, 50/50 in 2020 being formed by Susan Jonas, Julie Crosby and Melody Brooks to take action on finding solutions re gender disparity in theatre.
– Princeton University sponsors a conference “Women in Theatre: Issues for the 21st Century.”
– League of Professional Theatre Women create a committee to track stats on women in theater.
– Four members of Dramatists Guild — Cindy Cooper, Catherine Gropper, Andy Landis, Barbara Masry organize the Dramatists Guild Women’s Initiative.
2010 – TDF and the Wendy Wasserstein Prize committee announce that the $25,000 award for playwriting will not be awarded this year because, out of 19 finalists, they could find no script by a young female writer worthy of the prize. After mounting pressure from the theatre community the administrator of the prize announces that the selection process would be refined and done over in hopes of finding a winner.
2012 – Asian American Performers Action Coalition present a panel at Fordham University entitled Represent Asian where they share stats: Out of 6,639 total roles cast in the past five NYC theater seasons, African-Americans were cast in 13 percent of all available roles, Latinos in 4 percent and Asian-Americans in 2 percent. (Despite the fact that Asian-Americans make up 12.9 percent of the population of New York City.)
2012 – Guerrilla Girls On Tour! along with 50/50 in 2020, The Cherry Lane Theatre and the Women’s Initiative members of the Dramatists Guild produce WE ARE THEATRE a one night only speak out for gender parity in theatre. We Are Theatre is picked up by the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative for 2013. @OccupyBroadway
2013 – The Kilroys is founded by a gang of playwrights and producers in LA who are done talking about gender parity and are taking action. Using a survey they create “The List” – the top new plays by female and trans* authors.
2014 – 24% (including adaptations and co-authorship) of all plays produced by TCG theatres are written by women.
2015 – The Marbury Project, designed to address gender parity in the arts. The Marbury Project will highlight all female-identified artists achieving self-determined success.
2017 – Out of eight plays on Broadway in the 2016/17 season – three are written by women. Broadway Casting Directors – 50% of whom are women – unionize and ask the Broadway League to recognize their union status. The League refuses.
MORE WOMAN IN THEATRE STATS
* 1969-1975: 7 % of playwrights and directors hired by regional and
Off-Broadway theatres from 1969-7575 are women. Source: NYSCA Report,*
citing “Action for Women in Theatre.”
* 1994-95: playwright representation at 17% and directors at 19% for
Off Broadway and regional theatres. Source: NYSCA Report.*
* 1998 – 30% playwrights and 40% directors in off-off Broadway
theaters with budgets under $500,000. Source: NYSCA Report*
· 1999 women write 8% of all plays and only 1% of musicals
on Broadway. NYSCA Report via Guerrilla Girls On Tour’s “There’s a Tragedy on Broadway and it isn’t Electra” poster.*
· 2001-02: 17% women playwrights, 16% women directors at
1,900 Theatre Communications Group members. Women of color write 2.5% of plays produced and direct 1%. Source: NYSCA Report,* citing American Theatre magazine.
· 2009: Women account for approximately 17% of new plays
produced, but are 31% of the top ten most produced plays on the TCG list
of American Theater. Source: Wilner, Jordan**
· 1999-2009: Women write 11% of Broadway shows; these shows
earned 18% higher income and sold 16% more tickets. Source:Wilner,
Jordan**, citing study by Emily Glassberg Sands
· 2009: Women buy 70% of theater tickets and are 60% of
audience. Source: Norman***; Wilner, Jordan**
2009 – 19% of all plays in Chicago are written by women.
Source: American Theatre*****
2002-10 – 20% of all plays produced in LA are authored or co-authored by women.
Source: American Theatre*****
· 2012: Only 24% of directors employed by the theatres in
the UK during 2011-12 were women.****
· 2013-14 – 26% of all plays in the D.C area are written by women.
Source: American Theatre*****
· 2014: The Percentage of female playwrights produced
is essentially unchanged in the last 100 years.
· 2015: “The Count”—a tally of the gender of playwrights being produced across the country is initiated by the Dramatists Guild and the Lilly Awards.
· 2016: The Wellesley Centers for Women partners with American Conservatory Theatre
to study gender equity in leadership opportunities in the nonprofit American theater.
The results of the study are presented at the Women’s Leadership Conference in San Francisco, CA. Source: Wellesley Centers for Women
· 2017: The Wellesley Centers for Women partners with American Conservatory Theatre
to stuWorks by Women, San Francisco publishes the Counting Actors Project. The archive of all past posts can be found here.
*NYSCA Study refers to: New York State Council on the Arts Theatre
Program Report, “The Status of Women: A Limited Engagement?” By
Susan Jonas & Suzanne Bennett, released Jan 2002. executive summary:
**Wilner, Jordan refers to: “Discrimination and The Female
Playwright,” by Sheri Wilner and Julia Jordan, The Dramatist,
***Norman, Marsha refers to “Not There Yet: what will it take to
achieve equality for women in the theatre?” by Marsha Norman,
American Theater Magazine (Nov. 2009).
**** New research by the Guardian in collaboration with Elizabeth Freestone
***** American Theatre 2014, “Women Push for Equality On and Off Stage”
Also see Women Playwrights: Equality in Production, The Dramatist, Jan/Feb 2009
Guerrilla Girls On Tour’s annual Girlcott list – theatres that do not produce any plays by women.
Still don’t think women in theatre are discriminated against? Read Emily Glassberg Sands’ study, “Opening the Curtain on Playwright Gender“
17percent – Striving to get more plays by women onto UK stages
Agent 160 theatre – a writer led theatre company producing the work of women
New research by the Guardian in collaboration with Elizabeth Freestone