Female Playwrights Get A Boost From Advocacy Group


In Shakespeare’s day, all parts in a play, whether male or female, were acted out by men. You see in those old timey days, women had a lot of restrictions in life in general. Not so in 2014, although there is a very legitimate war on women which is being gallantly fought by feminists and advocate groups everywhere. Phew!

In the theater world, gender disparity still seems to be a issue, and frankly a bunch of very pissed of female playwrights are sick of it!

An advocacy group out of Los Angeles called the Kilroys, who met at a BBQ and decided they needed to change the unfair landscape toward women in the industry, have made the first step in showing literally everyone that there is absolutely no excuse for anyone in the theater industry in the US to ever use the excuse “there aren’t enough plays by women”.

Apparently it has been a very common reason for not putting on more productions written by women, so The Kilroys went where no stage thespian has ever dared (or clearly bothered) to go before, and put together an extensive resource list for every theater director to choose from.

As an interesting note, their name ‘The Kilroys’ was taken from the iconic “Kilroy was here” graffiti which was left by soldiers after WWII in unexpected places, which was a playfully subversive way of making their presence known. And that’s exactly what these women are doing, making their presence known in the theater world.

They first conducted a survey by asking 127 theater directors to recommend plays written by women that have had one or no productions but were among the best they had seen or read over the previous year. They ended up with a list of 300 plays, but narrowed it down to 46 of the best that they could distribute widely in theater circles.

To read more extensive information about how the survey was conducted and the information compiled, check out ‘The List‘ on the Kilroys website.

Sheila Callaghan from the group spoke to the New York Times about the list and why it was no necessary.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations with artistic directors who defend their season lineups by complaining they have no access to quote-unquote good plays written by females or people identifying as female,” Ms. Callaghan said. “The list lets us deliver 46 great plays to people who can’t seem to find them.”

Booyah! Whatchu got now misogynistic theater peeps?


Sarah Gubbins, also a member of the Kilroys told Huffpost Live’s Caitlyn Becker that her and the rest of the group of women have been deeply invested in the theater world as playwrights for so long, that the gender disparity is clearly evident. It was important for them to come up with this list and take action because it was the only way to start making things change in their favor.

According to a study by The Wrap, only 14% of 2012-2013 productions on Broadway were directed by women. Only one of the 12 musicals that opened on Broadway was scored by a woman — Cyndi Lauper, who won the Tony award for best original score for “Kinky Boots.”

“Of the 28 plays that opened on Broadway in the 2012-2013 season, just three were written by women.” the study continues.

It seems like shocking stats for an industry where women are responsible for 70% of New York theater ticket purchases.

It brings up the question of gender disparity in other sectors, and perhaps the solution lies in just doing a little bit more digging. If there is a discrepancy, could it be alleviated simply by presenting more options in favor of women so that there is no reason except out and out prejudice for sexism to still exists?

The Kilroys are certainly a great group of women, yes, but they are like the rest of us who live and operate in a certain landscape and are sick of being sidelined due to their gender.

On the website they state they are a “gang of playwrights and producers in LA who are done talking about gender parity and are ready to act. We are mobilizing others in our field and leveraging our own powers to support one another.”Across the country in New York, another advocate group called Works By Women also exists to bring more female playwrights, directors and producers to the forefront of Broadway’s consciousness and allowing these women to be equally represented in the industry.

They do this by also mobilizing women in their community and raising awareness. The key is supporting each other. We all have the power to change our circumstances, and beyond that, potentially an entire industry. The moral of the story is this: if we don’t act on an injustice, we can’t expect someone else will. Get creative, and put your resources together with like-minded girls and women to do something powerful in your community.

Gender disparity is something that affects all of us at one time or another. Or many times (let’s be honest!). If there is something we can all learn from what these powerhouse women are doing, is that we too can be “doing” something. It is well within our capabilities to be agents of change. Take a look at more of the conversation between Huffpost Live’s Caitlyn Becker, The Kilroys’ Sarah Gubbins and playwright Martha Lavey, artistic director of Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago:


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