26 October 2016

the same stories + done the same way + the same people = the same old.

Ironic. I was starting to write this, just as so many people began swiping and tapping and putting opinion to digital paper, on the surprising news about Emma Rice departing the Globe.

We tend not to offer up opinion from this organisation on another organisation - what they do is their business - but it is noticeable, the number of comments and articles asking if this would have happened to a male director? 

Innovative, trailblazing and full of imagination with a populist appeal…and the first female Globe AD.

Chief Executive Neil Constable had said the position had been ‘a widely sought-after role’ but the could ‘think of no one better placed to take on the Globe’.

In 2014, figures were published showing artistic directors working across the 179 theatre organisations in Arts Council England’s national portfolio were 37% female and 63% were male.

And there I was - as the news broke - counting up at how many women writers and directors were involved in the show entries we’ve had so far. And then the twitter feeding had a frenzy.

Just looking at published plays and new plays entered so far; there are 24 female writers credited and 25 directors are women including a couple of co-directors. You have to take into account some shows are devised and scripted by a company of creatives but even so - out of the 74 shows we have in the diary, that is a clear imbalance.

At the festival, Footprint from Sheffield (and producers of Daniel), were led by three women; Director Elin Schofield, Tilly Reith (Dramaturg/Writer) and Yasmin Williams (Producer.) The epic Kiss Me Kate was directed by Kate Barton and Over There by Josie Davies, who cast Bryony Davies (pictured above) as one of the male twins in the play. After our discussion on gender blind and integrated casting in 2015; a clever and wholly believable gender blind decision this year. Ten of the productions had either a female director or producer. The other female directors were Modupe Salu directing herself in I Can't Breathe, Jenny Walser directed Cock and Annie Petricca Lear (Dahmer), Ella Tebay (The Faithless Healer) and Rachel Angeli (West) were all co-directors.

So we are ending up with more of a balance at the festival. But, of course, it is not only about a male to female ratio. 

This organisation faces a huge on going challenge; to genuinely appeal and attract a properly reflective and much more diverse audience to the festival. I think that the offer of bursaries will help. And we are so grateful to have the ability to do that. But we need to...and you who enter shows and who are interested in what we do, need to join the conversation and take on the challenge too.

Right at the planning stage, directors and producers have to ask themselves the question; will the work we make have a truly integrated and reflective company? Look at the parts your are casting - why cannot some (many) male roles be played by women. Or, to use just one example, Emma Rice made choices. She cast Helena as Helenus - a gay man - in A Midsummer Nights Dream and cast white and BAME actors across the whole show regardless of the relationships in the script.

We need a different equation.

The alternative is; the same stories + done the same way + the same people = the same old.