This past weekend I went to the theatre. No, not a movie, but you know the actual theatre.
I saw Tigers Be Still which was put on by District Theatre Collective, a small but mighty independent theatre company here in Winnipeg. It’s run by local theatre people and a few people who I know/ went to school with. The play was what I needed. It made me laugh so much, and it was so relate-able my life seemed to parallel Sherry’s ( who was the main female protagonist).
I could rave about how much I loved this play for the entire blog post. I would and I would also encourage you to see it, but it being a small theatre company they tend not to have very long runs and it had about a 4 night run, so it ended on Sunday.
What I will passionately rave/ rant about is something that I went to afterwords. That is something quite passionate and dear to my heart. Women in Theatre.
Oof. I can already hear everyone simultaneously getting tense as I type that.
I went to an amazing panel discussion after the play that was put on by District Theatre Collective ( from here on in DTC) the panel was filled with local woman involved in winnipeg theatre in any way shape or form. Actors, improvisers, playwrights, directors, artistic directors and a moderator, to you know, moderate things. The moderator started out with stats that we all seemed to know and cringe with. For those of you less in the know than myself ( or other women in theatre ) I’ll lay it out for you.
There are less than 1/3rd of women ( I believe these were Canadian statistics but I may be wrong) in the Canadian theatre world in these categories:
- As Artistic Directors/ Directors
- As playwrights
- As actors
Are you shocked? I wasn’t either. Which is entirely disappointing. Because I think we should be. These statistics are also scary because when they looked ( whoever they were the random statistic people of canada maybe) more than 80 percent of theatre schools/ institutions were made up of women.
SO WHERE DO THEY ALL GO?!?! Exactly. While we may have high numbers in theatre school, and trust me that statistic is legit, I went to theatre school and I could always count on one hand the amount of males in my classes, we seem to peter off afterwords. Maybe we do something else, maybe we get more adult jobs or, if you’re like myself and so many other women I know, we’re struggling a.f. to get anything.
This isn’t a poor me let’s pity women type of thing. This is the reality of going out and trying to get stuff/ do stuff after you got this degree that proves you can sort of a do an artistic thing. From more statistics from the moderator, and also just facts from the women up there who were talking, a lot of the theatre world is run by men. Directors are mostly men, as are artistic directors ( people that run theatre companies, people who decide what plays get seen for their season of theatre) and please don’t get me started on who they’re always looking for for parts.
The need for caucasian men between the ages of 25-40 seems to be great. Abounding. And suddenly all of these men come out of the woodwork and you’re like I’ve been here trying to do some things/ get some things for 5 plus years who are you? And then they tell you that they just decided to try this acting thing and if you’re like me you just get mad and try not to punch them in the face. Because for sure they’re going to get that part.
This panel talked not only about women in theatre but specifically woc ( women of colour) in theatre and poc ( people of colour ) in theatre. And to quote my one friend when the moderator asked her if she thought that had changed at all in the past few years she legit just said “um… no. ” Which is so true. How can we expect to see these things happen if people don’t get the opportunity to do them? If they don’t have access to these opportunities? This perspective of mine I know comes from my own privileged white self and I know I was granted opportunities that not everyone has. So all of this ends up making my brain hurt because how can we change this? How can we change these stats?
The topic shifted as we began to talk about theatre companies in general. A lot of independent theatre companies end up being run by women ( DTC- run mostly by women) and yes they’re smaller. But they end up being able to do more edgy theatre. The only way it seems we are going to get seen and heard and tell our stories is when we create our own theatre. Someone else on the panel said that if you took a look at all of the risky,”out there” theatre for the majority of the part, it’s not being done by men it’s being done by women. Because we have to be scrappy, we have to be edgy just to change those damn statistics.
Those terrible stats won’t change overnight, and apparently they haven’t even changed in the past few decades. Which is sad. Because really when you think of the majority of people that go to the theatre? It’s mostly women. It really is.
I’m hoping DTC will keep having these panel discussions because the key is to keep talking about it and taking action towards it. Tweet at them @districttheatre to keep the convo going!
I’ll leave with this GREAT quote that one woman said that I wish I could take credit for:
“You can’t be a mediocre woman unless you’re very privileged and very beautiful.”
Here’s a pic I took from the panel discussion:
And here’s a link to District Theatre Collective’s twitter: