- The response from Primary Stages. (http://tinyurl.com/onxkvm)
- Statistics on women playwrights from the original email sender, as well as how the info on Primary Stages originally got out. (http://tinyurl.com/p5gp98)
- Why this issue is important to me. (http://tinyurl.com/pava66)
- Info on a list started by Adam Szymkowicz, and added to by others, of women playwrights needing more productions. (http://tinyurl.com/oc2vg3)
- Statistics from my script submissions log as Literary Manager. (http://tinyurl.com/qv8qhc)
Yesterday I got the email below. I was unaware of subscriber resistance to supporting the all-female season of plays that Primary Stages is producing.
Women theatre-goers are asked to support all-male seasons All. The. Time.
If you believe, as I do, that hearing what women have to say is important, and that Primary Stages shouldn't be punished for producing them, then please consider buying a season subscription. It's $128. If that's too much, please consider joining forces with friends to purchase a subscription. Primary Stages has set it up so that, if you are out of town, you can donate your subscription to a female playwright in NYC.
Massive Understatement: It will take time to undo gender bias, to show the importance of hearing and strengthening the voices of women. Women are discounted and diminished all the time in the media and popular culture, whether it's politicians being criticized for being ambitious, mothers for working (or not--they can't win), etc. Women even diminish themselves and each other.
Gender bias is hard for many people to even see, but for those of us who live with it, it is enough to push us toward rage and despair over the feeling of powerlessness. Those of us who believe this issue is important must support these playwrights, so that their work can be heard, and steps can begin to be taken towards understanding and strengthening the work of women, who have been marginalized in society far too long.
Please don't let this turn into an argument for theatres to further silencing women, as in, "Well, look what happens when you produce plays by women--no one comes! We can't afford that."
Thank you for listening. Here is a shortened link to this post for your convenience in spreading the word: http://tinyurl.com/pkajyd
For the first time EVER in U.S. History, a theater in New York City is producing an entire season of all-female playwrights! This is fantastic news, right?
Especially since according to Dramatists Guild statistics, only 9-11% of the shows produced in 2008 in NYC and by professional regional theaters (Off-Broadway, Broadway, and LORT) were female-authored. That's right, only 9-11%. Note that no one even has an exact statistic! Gender bias is alive and well in the American theater.
Only, guess what? Word is out that some folks are complaining about this upcoming all-female season to Primary Stages and are not renewing their subscriptions. They say: "Why do a season of only women playwrights? And why haven't I heard of these women?"
The fact is that 100 years ago, the statistic was HIGHER in New York City for productions of the works of women playwrights than it was just last year (12.8% in 1908, 12.6% in 2008 ). You can't hear of women playwrights if they aren't getting any productions! And in 100 years, it's gotten worse, not better.
It's time to take a stand.
A subscription to the Primary Stages costs $128. I have purchased one season subscription as a political/artistic show of support for Primary Stages and in symbolic sisterhood with female playwrights; my ticket is being given to a young female playwright in New York City, so that she can enjoy their season in my stead.
I know we live in extraordinarily pressing times at every level. But if you, too, care about the voices of women being heard in the American theater, please consider donating to Primary Stages to show support for their 2009-2010 season of female playwrights. The thought is this: if we show enough theaters in the USA that people care and will pay for plays by women, then other theaters might seek to do the same--or at least bring the slate of their seasons to a more 50-50 equitable level in terms of representation of female playwrights! Women are 51% of the U.S. population, after all.I know $128 is a lot of money. Even if you can't afford $128, perhaps join in with a group of friends, and collectively sponsor a ticket for a young female playwright (or a New Yorker of your choice) to experience the Primary Stages season, too--and take a stand against gender bias in playwriting in the U.S.
You can mail donations to:
Jessica Comas, Director of Development, Primary Stages, 307 West 38th Street, Suite 1510, New York, NY 10018
You can e-mail Jessica at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also check out their season at primarystages.org, and don't miss their "Support" page which lists all of their programs.
Feel free to forward this information to anyone. I would appreciate you taking out my name from the e-mail header if you do forward it, so that the total focus is on the content.
[name redacted at sender's request]