Friday, 3 April 2015

Dan Rebellato leads a charge...

 Academic Dan Rebellato, inspired by a tweet from 'the Glasgow-based theatre maker Vickie Beesley', delved into the history of The National Theatre (not Scotland) and concluded that its representation of female playwrights is... underwhelming. He could barely dig up a whole play with a female author that had been directed by an artistic director of the National.

A couple of years ago, a similar challenge was issued to The Lyceum, in Edinburgh. During one season, there was not a single female director or author - and, possibly thanks to an inflammatory tweet from a certain syrup-wearing TV magician, this became a thing to discuss.

I'm not drawing a complete comparison between the two events, beyond their discussion of the under-representation of women at certain levels of theatre. Indeed, I side with Beesley and Rebellato, while I didn't think The Lyceum issue was terribly important. 

(And that's not just because it is easier to take a pot shot at an organisation five hundred miles away.)

The Lyceum became, for a brief moment, the symbol of an injustice - that women were not getting a fair share. This is despite the large number of women who work in theatre, at lower levels. However, I felt sorry for The Lyceum. It was only one season (they made damn sure their next season had a piece with, like, loads of women on stage), and their structure, with a male artistic director, is pretty typical of Scottish theatres. Casting a jaundiced eye around the nation, it is only really The Traverse that has a concentration of women in positions of artistic control (the recent arrival of Zinnie Harris makes the Trav a 'female-dominated' theatre, whatever I think I might mean by that).

The Lyceum situation was not anything unusual. In fact, it was business as usual. But having a public word with The National Theatre (which might be thought to represent a national culture, although I am sure that is contested) seems a good place to start a discussion...

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