The 2012 International Centre for Women Playwrights 50/50 Applause Award:
ICWP gives a standing ovation to theatres that value women’s writing!
The International Centre for Women Playwrights (ICWP) announces its inaugural 50/50 Applause Awards to five US theatre companies for seasons of plays with half or more written by women. In support of women in theatre, ICWP rewards and recognises those theatre companies who see gender parity as more than a desired goal.
ICWP started in 1988 with a mission is to support women playwrights worldwide and bring attention to their work. The creation of the 50/50 Applause Award coincides with the organisation’s 25th birthday celebration. President of ICWP, Dr Jennifer Munday, has stated that “these companies need special thanks for the integrity of their decision-making.”
In recent years, discussions within the global theatre community and the media have prompted both academic research and discussions to explain why the work of women playwrights is underrepresented in staged theatrical productions. In 2009, Emily Glassberg Sands released a study called “Opening the Curtain on Playwright Gender” which showed that only 18% of the productions done in the United States in 2008 were by female playwrights. She also found that “only 11% of shows on Broadway over the past decade [1999-2009] were written exclusively by women”.
Other research from countries with developed economies has demonstrated similar imbalances. Last year, Lyn Gardner of the UK’s The Guardian stated “...of the 57 productions in the West End and the fringe that might be considered plays (rather than musicals or physical work), only six are written by women”. In Canada, Rebecca Burton and Reina Green reported that 30-35% of the nation’s artistic directors were female in 2006.
Aside from the imbalance of theatrical expressions of women’s experience, there is a clear economic trajectory that starts with a production. A professional production is typically followed by script publication, book sales, further productions, royalty revenue for the playwright and other financial rewards like commissions, residences and travel opportunities.
To that end, ICWP’s qualifications for the 50/50 Applause Award were that theater companies produced women playwrights in both 50% of productions and 50% of total performances in their 2011-2012 season. Theaters that included producing women playwrights in their mission were not eligible. Five theatre companies have been recognised with the 50/50 Applause award, through a strict nomination process.
The winners are: Cleveland Public Theatre, Cleveland, OH; Little Colonel Theatre, Pee Wee Vally, KY; Nora Theater, Cambridge, M A; Playwrights Horizons, New York, NY; and, Symmetry Theatre, Berkeley, CA. The companies will receive their award in January 2013
Name: Elana Gartner
To learn more about the award and the criteria, visitwww.womenplaywrights.org/award