A really interesting post on WomenandHollywood.com with some fascinating debate below – the whole of the Laura Pels keynote address given by Theresa Rebeck in 2010.
Theresa Rebeck is a Pulitzer Prize nominated playwright, you can find more information about her here on her website.
Some of Theresa Rebeck’s comments are depressingly similar to those 17percent has encountered in the UK. The bias towards the male playwright is just as rife in America as here.
“… I don’t want to hear from anybody that there isn’t, or hasn’t been, a real gender problem in the American theater… I felt like my whole career as a playwright has been so hyperdefined by my gender…”
“And then I began my career as a professional playwright, where I was told that since I’m a woman, if I write about women, that means I have a feminist agenda and that’s BAD. I also got told that when I write about men, since I’m a woman, that I clearly have a feminist agenda, and that’s bad too. I couldn’t write about anything without hearing that I had a feminist agenda. It turned out that being a woman playwright was just in and of itself suspect; if you are a woman playwright by definition you have a feminist agenda, which was so bad, it annihilated the work itself. Apparently the other word for woman playwright might as well be ‘witch.’”
“…this is the situation: Plays written by women are not being produced. In 2007, the one year I opened a play on Broadway, I was the only woman playwright who did so. That year, nationwide, 12 per cent of the new plays produced all over the country were by women. That means 88 percent of the new plays produced were written by men. (Back in 1918 before women had the right to vote, the percentage of new plays in New York, written by women, was higher. It was higher before we had the vote.)”
“Generally, over the last 25 years the number of plays produced that were written by women seems to have vacillated between 12 and 17 percent.”
Read the full text of this address here.