Gender equality in theatre. A long discussed topic that nobody seems to do much about.
It’s a well known fact that at school age there are more girls interested in drama than boys. This also translates into the adult acting world, where the split of male and female performers may not have such a wide gap, but even so there are far more roles for male actors than their female counterparts. Along with this there is a distinct lack of female roles, and more importantly, a distinct lack of varied female roles for actresses to get their teeth stuck into. Nobody would bat an eyelid at a play with an all male cast, however make that an all female cast and suddenly you’re making a point about ‘what it means to be a woman’ and ‘female issues’. It’s disheartening and it not only patronises female theatre makers, it patronises audience members who are eager to see new work that has a variety of roles for both male and female performers.
I was interested to hear about Tonic Theatre, a company that was set up in 2011…as a way of supporting the theatre industry to achieve greater gender equality in its workforces and repertoires. Lucy Kerbal is the director of the company and since 2011 they have been involved in a variety of projects and working with theatre’s and companies to assist them in creating gender equality in their workforces.
It’s worth checking out their website as they’ve been involved in some really interesting initiatives, including a commission for writers to write plays for a female dominated casts for young theatre makers called ‘Platform‘.
I will absolutely be keeping up to date with their news and think it’s a great step in the right direction for opening the door for more female performers to have the (well deserved) chance to play the variety of roles offered to their male counterparts. Lucy Kerbal has also compiled a collection of plays in an anthology called ‘100 Great Plays for Women‘ which I think any budding director or actor (male or female!) should have a read through to see what exciting range of roles are open to women in theatre in this day and age.