Saturday 25 January 2014

Modest proposal: progress report #1

[up to last Saturday]

Productions seen to Saturday 18th Jan 2014 in numbers:

Blurred Lines 
W:21 / M: 7 (female director, male writer, female designer. Eight female actors)

Fiji Land
W: 5 / M: 7 (male writer, female director, female designer. Three male actors)

W: 8 / M: 11 (female writer and director, male designer. Cast: two women two men)

Not I / Footfalls / Rockaby
W: 2 / M: 8 ((dead) male writer, male director, male designer. Cast: one woman)

From Morning to Midnight
W: 21 / M: 24 ((dead) male writer, female director, female designer. Cast: eight men, eight women)

W: 4 / M: 15 (male writer, female director, male designer. Cast: two women, ten men)

The Day Shall Declare It
W: 10 / M: 7 ((dead) male writer, female artistic director, female choreographer, female designer. Cast: one woman two men)

A Bas Bruit
W: 3 / M: 6 (male director. Cast: two men, one woman)

L’apres-midi d’un foehn / Vortex
W: 8 / M: 6 (AD, chor, scen: all done by one woman, dramaturgy: man: performers woman/woman)

Don Quijote
W: 2 / M: 4 (collaborative: three male performers, one guest female performer)

Overall totals so far:
W: 84 / M: 95

A note on the method:

It’s pretty self-explanatory, really. The first set of figures (W: # / M: #) is basically the number of people from each gender named on the credits page of the programme. These include all writers, directors, choreographers, performers, stage managers, ASMs, DSMs, dramaturgs, fight directors, lighting designers, sound designers, tech supports... whatever.

The second bit – the bit in brackets – are what I’m controversially thinking of as the “core team”. I know theatre is massively collaborative, and I know lighting designers, sound designers, stage managers (et al.) are crucial; so I suppose what I mean by “core team” are “the most visible elements of a given production. Indeed, I’ve sometimes allowed for variations (like: where a dramaturg is clearly a crucial part of a show’s make-up, like where a choreographer is as-if-not-more-visible than a director... and so on).

Oh, and so far I'm just seeing shows which looked interesting and which I'd booked for before I wrote my "modest proposal".


Well, I’m pleasantly surprised that the numbers so far don’t seem to be too wildly uneven (only 11 fewer women overall out of 179). Of performers, there are seven more men than women appearing on stage so far. Again, that doesn’t feel wildly OTT, but again, it is men in the lead (although women would have been ahead if I’d skipped The Faction’s ridiculously man-on-stage-heavy Thebes).

Possibly the most interesting figure is the writer:director ratio. Yes, given that it’s Mime-Fest season, the whole concept of “a writer” comes into question as a credit at all (Simon Stephens’s concept of “language designer” even falls by the wayside when the “language” involved is non-verbal, perhaps?), and with devised work like Blurred Lines and The Day Shall Declare It, we either don’t know what went on in the rehearsal rooms, or what weight or power we can really ascribe to the figure of “the writer” in that context. Nevertheless, all that said, I have only seen one play written by a woman so far this year (Ciphers), which doesn’t seem super by any measure.

On the other hand, out of the eleven shows seen so far, only two were directed by men...

Next week (i.e. the week just gone) I think these early optimistic indicators might falter somewhat, so let's enjoy this bit of relative equality while we can... 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Repeat experiment on shows where all involved will be earning a living wage and not subsidising the development/performance of the production in any way themselves. What do you see?