The Difficult Plight of the Female Playwright – Women Win Awards, Men Get Productions


According to a group of 0ff Broadway playwrights headed up by SARAH SCHULMAN (aka, the writer RENT ripped off) and JULIA JORDAN, it’s harder to get work produced in New York when you’re a woman — that’s why they convened for a town hall meeting last night to discuss gender bias.

This article in the New York Times has the numbers to back up their claims. When you look at what’s being staged at the 14 largest Off Broadway theaters, shows by men are mounted at four times the rate of those by women.

Also important to note: There are currently no plays on Broadway by female playwrights.

Lincoln Center Theater artistic director Andre Bishop told the Times that the gender divide might be due to the fact that “most artistic directors are men and they don’t relate to or connect with women as much as men.”

We’re not going to even touch that.

After the jump read what downtown playwright SHEILA CALLAGHAN, whose show CRAWL, FADE TO WHITE is currently playing at IDEAL GLASS GALLERY, has to say regarding the great gender divide.

“There’s definitely some sort of bias, but I am not sure where it stems from. There may be a perception out there that women write ‘soft’ plays, and that the territory of edgier work belongs to the men. So when a woman writes an edgy play there’s no room for it in a theatre’s season because they already have their male play in the appropriate slot.

“There’s also the ghettoization of female writers, which happens with festivals and awards and anthologies and such. I don’t know if you’ve the heard the adage ‘women win awards, men get productions,’ but it seems to ring true among the writers I know working in the biz.

“The theatres I tend to work with are interested in language and theatricality, so I’ve been lucky in that way to not feel like my gender is much of a consideration. But I’m not being produced at the level of many male playwrights who have similar sensibilities, and I can’t tell you why.”

Photo: John Zalewski