Parkside Players Presents Edward’s Closet at 13th Street Rep

CaptureI’ve been talking about theatre beyond the bright lights of Broadway for so long that probably everyone thinks, “yeah, we know you LOVE theatre MALINI.” As a member of the indie theatre community for so very long, I know what goes into producing and promoting a show. I also know what it feels like to take the leap.


The Parkside Players are a theatre group in Forest Hills. My husband and I have worked with them in different capacities over the years. When I read Mark Lords’ article in The Queens Chronicle about their acceptance in the The Take Ten Festival, I beamed. It isn’t often that you read about community theatre companies leaving the community. Parkside has been serving up delicious plays for over 35 years in Queens. Though many company members have done commercial work outside of the neighborhood, they continue to work with the company to hone their craft. Kevin Schwab, company member and former President, answers a few questions.
Malini: First, congrats on Edward’s Closet written by Jenn Dlugos & Charlie Hatton, being a part of The Take Ten Festival at the 13th Street Repertory. This is wonderful exposure for all involved and for the Parkside Players. Why did you decide to submit to the festival?

Kevin: The playwrights contacted Johnny Culver about directing. He had directed in this festival circuit in NYC a few years ago and was referred to her.

Malini:  The Parkside Players has a 35 + history in Forest Hills, Queens. This is definitely groundbreaking in terms of stepping out of the theatre’s comfort zone (literally and figuratively). Even though many of the members has done theatrical work outside of the company, what are the challenges, if any, that come with producing outside of your home venue? What challenges are associated with bringing this play to life?

Kevin:  Scheduling time with busy actors, not knowing the performance space until the day before, and hoping that the actors understand the directors “idea” and are willing to go along with it!

From my perspective as an actor,  I love fast rehearsal periods with an element of flexible improvisation since you may have to adapt to different theatrical settings on the fly. There’s a different adrenaline rush with a play that hasn’t been proven yet. One-act opportunities fit well into my schedule and working with reliable friends in the business is very comfortable and enjoyable.

Malini:  Why did you guys say yes to doing the project under Parkside Players?

Kevin:  Parkside in Queens brings a lot of talent together under one roof which leads to conversations about branching out and taking some risks in Manhattan that we don’t get to experience in a church basement venue.

Parksides last show of the 2015-2016 will be “You Can’t Take It With You” opening May 21st and more details can be found on

Edward’s Closet by Jenn Dlugos and Charlie Hatton
Directed by Johnny Culver
Cast: Kevin Schwab, Mike Miller, Lauren Snyder,  Terri Matassov
13th Street Repertory
50 West 13 Street
April 26 – May 1
The Take Ten Festival is having its second annual series of short plays and the audience will vote on the winners each night to propel the plays forward to additional rounds.

Guest Blogger Nick Radu Reviews Bedroom Farce

Bedroom Farce

If you’re looking for a good time, a good show and a few good laughs you need only go as far as the bedroom; or three bedrooms, as it is in Alan Ayckbourn’s Bedroom Farce. Under the creative and talented eye of director Andrew Block, the title and the performances do not disappoint when it comes to comedic farce.  The entire play takes place in three separate bedrooms, owned by three of the four couples in the play.  Ian McDonald did a spectacular job of creating the space, with three full beds, as well as walls and doors and other nooks and crannies to differentiate the playing spaces. But it’s Block’s clever blocking that keeps this play moving, and from becoming a giant mess of beds vs people.

Trevor and Susannah, played by Simon Pearl and Alexandra O’Daly, respectively, are a couple whose marriage is on the rocks, and everyone else knows about it.  These two actors have great chemistry as they battle it out in the most awkward of places; other people’s bedrooms.

Trevor’s parents, played by Viki Boyle and Mitch Giannunzio, give us a wonderful insight into married life during middle age.  They seem to have the experience and the answers, but we are privileged to watch these playful actors as their true colors come out when they’re forced to deal with unmentionable topics.

Nick, played by John Gazzale, makes us all cringe as the bed-ridden character agonizing over a slipped disc.  We have the joy of watching his wife, Jan, played by Mel House, deal with her husband’s pleasantries during this crazy romp.  The two have the best moment in the play as these great physical actors give the audience their money’s worth!

In fact, the entire cast has wonderful comedic timing, but the scene stealers are clearly Joscelyne Wilmouth, playing Kate, and Toby MacDonald, playing her husband, Malcolm. These two have it all: chemistry, timing, physicality, you name it.  MacDonald has such a great take-charge way about him, while still being adorably funny.  Wilmouth shows the most range as she interacts with the other characters and deals with her own bedroom shenanigans.

Stop down to the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church and catch one of the remaining performances of Bedroom Farce. You’re in for a treat!

Jones Auditorium
Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church
7 West 55th Street
(on the 3rd Floor)
7 pm Saturday, April 16
2 pm Sunday, April 17
7 pm Tuesday, April 19
7 pm Wednesday, April 20
7 pm Thursday, April 21
7 pm Friday, April 22
7 pm Saturday, April 23
2 pm Sunday, April 24
Visit HERE for more info.

Meet Shellen Lubin

Screen+Shot+2015-02-22+at+4.27.01+PMMy conversation on gender parity continues with Shellen Lubin. Shellen is a powerhouse. She wears numerous hats as a Songwriter, Playwright, Director, and Vocal/Acting Coach.  She is also the Co-President of the Women in the Arts & Media Coalition, VP of Programming of the League of Professional Theatre Women, and a member of most unions and guilds in our industry, and of the National Theatre Conference.

Shellen shares about The Women in Arts & Media Coalition:

Founded in 1990 (as the New York Coalition of Professional Women in the Arts & Media, Inc.), the Women in the Arts & Media Coalition is a centralized resource for the advancement of professional women in film, theater, television and communications. Combining member organizations’ abilities and strengths in a collaborative effort, the Coalition’s mission is to empower women in these industries through advocacy, mentoring, networking, and events. Members include many of the unions and guilds in our industry, as well as larger and smaller organizations dedicated to the advancement of women.

There are a number of benefits of being a member of the Women in the Arts & Media Coalition, starting with being part of a movement promoting parity and diversity in our industry. Membership in the Coalition is not by individuals, but by organizations, and is determined by the size of membership. Full Member Organizations have the greatest number of individual members and include unions and guilds, such as Local 802 AFM, Actors’ Equity Association, Dramatists Guild, SAG-AFTRA, Stage Directors and Choreographers, Writers Guild of America East, and organizations like the League of Professional Theatre Women, New York Women in Film and Television, and New York Women in Communications. Affiliate members include the International Center for Women Playwrights, the Women’s Media Center, Women Make Movies, Women in Music, the Drama Desk, and The National Theatre Conference, to name but a few.  Last year a new membership category for academic institutions emerged with The School of Visual Arts becoming the first academic affiliate. All together, the organizational membership totals more than 100,000 women and men.

The Coalition often co-produces events with its member orgs. Member orgs are not only able to help with the design and follow-through of these programs, the Coalition is also available to help with any events from its member orgs that are of particular interest or value to women. If any one of our organizations offers a discount to the broad Coalition membership, the Coalition will publicize those events in their newsletter, calendar, and blog. Additionally, the Coalition is always interested in creating a Cross Meet and Greet between member orgs who are interested in having their membership network with each other. Our last such Meet and Greet was a three-way jam-packed networking event at WGAE with NYWIFT and WMM.

The Coalition offers a huge number of valuable resources on their website.

One useful resource is the Women in the Arts & Media Communal Calendar, which lists all events of interest for women, arts, and media, and is becoming the place to look for events, and to schedule in advance and check for conflicts. As a member of Local 802,, you are a member of The Coalition and are invited to all the events, awards galas, and networking opportunities listed there (unless they are listed as blackout dates only).

Go to to learn about upcoming events and openings of interest.

Newer projects include: the Studies page,, an extensive database with links to Studies around the world on gender representation in theatre, film, and television.

For those seeking funding, residencies and opportunities to submit original work, go to for both  #StageOpps and #ScreenOpps newsletters.

Last fall the Coalition spearheaded a Percolating Gender Parity in Theatre summit, bringing organizations together from the Coalition and beyond, from around the world, to share and coordinate efforts. A Percolating Gender Parity in Music summit is planned for Fall 2016 and Gender Parity in Media for Spring 2017..

The Coalition also shares news and information from all its member orgs and other organizations of interest on their blog and on facebook and Twitter. Anything any member org has to publicize that would be of interest to sister organizations in the Coalition can be shared by any and all of those means.

The Coalition also sponsors two Signature events, usually one each year in rotation.  The first is The Collaboration Awards, which honor professional women in the arts and media from different specializations working collaboratively on the creation of new work. The award recognizes the best of these collaborations. The last Collaboration Awards Gala in 2015 celebrated honorees in the disciplines of playwriting, songwriting, filmmaking, and directing. The winners were playwright T.D. Mitchell and director Sheryl Kaller for QUEENS FOR A YEAR which will be premiering at Hartford Stage in Fall 2016.

The other Signature event for which the Women in the Arts & Media Coalition is known is VintAge, which celebrates older women, and what is possible both in their representation and in their employment. In 2014, The Coalition granted the 1st Elsa Rael VintAge Award, for advocacy of women aging in the arts and media, presented by Tisa Chang to Morgan Jenness for her work on behalf of the playwright Maria Irene Fornes.

The Women in the Arts & Media Coalition’s combined membership is larger and more diverse than that of any other alliance of women in the arts and/or media. As a resource for professional development and social exchange, and as a force for the voice and vision of women working towards parity and diversity in the arts and media, the Coalition is a continually expanding force to be reckoned with. It is a wonderful resource from which we hope you will benefit.

Shellen Lubin

Writer/Director/Teacher of Theatre & Music

facebook:  Shellen Lubin

LinkedIn:  shellenlubin

twitter:  @shlubin


Co-President ~ Women in the Arts & Media Coalition


twitter: @WomenArtsMedia


VP of Programming ~ League of Professional Theatre Women


twitter: @LPTWomen


Monday Morning Quote


twitter: @MonMornQuote

Meet Felicia Lin


My conversation on gender parity continues with Felicia Lin who is a Taiwanese American writer. The diaspora of her parents’ generation and Taiwan’s international isolation, have fueled her interest in Taiwan. In 2001, she left New York to live in Taiwan, where a creative breakthrough led her to pursue a career as a writer. Metropolicks, the first book she has co-written, is a romantic comedy novel. Currently she is working on the memoir of Su Beng, a Taiwanese revolutionary, activist and historian.

Here’s her take on the publishing world:

As far as the publishing industry goes, it is a female dominated industry, i.e. there are more women working in the field of publishing than men. However the majority of book reviewers and authors reviewed are men.

Here are some of the statistics from the field of literature and publishing that I referred to while on the panel:

1) According to a Publishers Weekly salary survey in 2010, 85% of publishing employees with less than three years of experience are women

2) Here’s a link to data gathered by VIDA Women in Literary Arts which shows a breakdown of the number of men and women in the categories of authors reviewed and book reviewers: 

Out of 40 charts, women outnumbered men on only two of them.

This New Republic article takes a closer look at what’s behind these numbers:

The New Republic article states: At Harper’s, there were 27 male book reviewers and six female; about 69 percent of the books reviewed were by male authors. At the London Review of Books, men wrote 78 percent of the reviews and 74 percent of the books reviewed. Men made up 84 percent of the reviewers for The New York Review of Books and authored 83 percent of the books reviewed. 

3) As for self-publishing, this Guardian article indicates that self-publishing allows women to break through the glass ceiling of the book industry.

The article also states that according to a report from online publishing platform FicShelf, the authors doing best in the medium tend to be women. 

The man whose biography I’m working on, Su Beng (he’s a nonagenarian Taiwanese revolutionary) was a very strong supporter of Tsai Ing-wen, who is the first woman be elected to be the President of Taiwan. She was elected on January 16th and she even mentioned Su Beng in one of her acceptance speeches. I wrote about this on my blog about Su Beng here: I’m attaching the photo of Su Beng ad Tsai Ing-wen that appears in that blog post.


Biographer of Su Beng

Lifelong Taiwan independence activist, revolutionary and author of TAIWAN’S 400 YEAR HISTORY

Co-author of Metropolicks and The Metropolicks We Call New York City: A Guide for Singles

Twitter @felishalin


Instagram @felishalin

Article on AllVerse and Our “April is National Poetry Month” Theme

imageIf Nobody Thinks of Remarkable Things
If nobody thinks of remarkable things…
Does the ordinary become extraordinary
What touching lyrics in songs would we sing
If nobody thinks of remarkable things…
Be encouraged
The heart stays dim, along with our dreams
If no one remembers the…[read more]

Hello, my name is Angela Skeete­-Davis and I am one of the four co­-founders of AllVerse. The other founders are Marc Christmas, Neonu Jewell, and Noreen Hollingsworth. What, you may ask, is AllVerse? Well, we like to describe ourselves as a global social network, committed to uplifting and elevating the planet through positive mediums such as verse, pictures, video, music, etc. Right now we can be found on Facebook. We have both a public page ­ where all members can post content, and a community page – where we, the founders, post content. We make it clear on our pages that while we honor all beliefs, all content should promote love and unity. We want everyone who visits our page to know that they… that everyone matters.

How did AllVerse come about? Another good question. The four of us were sitting around a table at a barbecue and the question came up ­ what would you do if you won $100 million dollars. In sharing our answers, we discovered that each of us wanted to make a difference in the world, each of us in a way that involved reaching out to people and connecting through a spiritual type of commonality. We talked about it but Neonu Jewell put it into action. She created AllVerse the company and we together created its vision.

AllVerse started on Facebook on September 12, 2014. Last year we had our first function ­ a small event where we gave out “contagious hugs”. We also created an AllVerse group­wide poem, and have created and given out AllVerse KITS which are “Kindnesses In Tiny Satchels”. This year, we are planning to expand our reach with even bigger events and more opportunities to get to know us.

Why write about AllVerse now? Well, we are in the midst of celebrating National Poetry Month. Every Tuesday,through the month of April, on our pages, we post a line of poetry and everyone interested posts a follow­up line. Then on Friday we post the finished poem. Our first post got over twenty responses. We are confident our numbers will increase as more people see our post and by the end of the month we will have four more AllVerse group poems.

How did this come about? I am a writer and Marc is a poet with ties to the spoken verse community. He even has a radio show that features spoken verse. On National Poetry Day, last year, we did something similar. We had a huge response and created a mammoth group poem which we are currently putting together in booklet to share with our members. When April started, in an impromptu phone conference, Noreen suggested we do something similar and called upon Marc and I to create a themed campaign. And that is how the one­line­contribution poem came to be.

Each week a different line will be offered and we hope our members will take that line and let their imaginations, poetic creativity, and hearts run wild. Then write whatever comes to them. There is no need to be a writer, poet, artist, or creative genius. If our line hits you, moves you, or inspires you to share a line, that is all we ask… that you share.

Why poetry? Poetry is the feelings and emotions we would not share in normal, everyday conversation. Poetry is often the vulnerable thoughts and feelings we find hard to reveal… thoughts that come from our spirit, our soul, our heart. What better time to share such thoughts than during poetry month and where better than on a page dedicated to ensuring everyone realize that they matter. We hope all of you who read this blog take the time to check out our page and contribute to the poems.

Why is AllVerse important? AH, the most important question of all. We at AllVerse believe that life is more than just getting up and going through the motions of day­to­day living; that there is a deeper dimension to life than our superficial reality. We believe that there is more to life than hatred, fear, and negativity; that life can be seen and enjoyed through the lens of love, light, joy, kindness, gratitude, and support. We hope to bring that love, light, joy, kindness, gratitude, and support to others in a way that will uplift them and inspire them. We hope that it will then encourage them to share their positivity with us. We hope people check out our page and are moved by our content; that they come to some of our events and are touched by them. We hope that whether they visit one of our pages, listen to our radio show (CALL­-IN Info: 724­444­7444 CALL ID 93155# Then Press 1… or you can join ONLINE/CHAT: or one of our events, they leave happier than when they arrived knowing, if nothing else, that they matter.

Meet Naomi McDougall Jones

4.21x5.47 laurelsMy last blog post was on gender parity and the panel that I moderated. Naomi McDougall Jones  represented the discipline of film as a filmaker shared these three stats about the role of women in films:

  • Of the top 100 Hollywood films in 2014, only 12% featured a leading female character.
  • Of the top 100 Hollywood films of the last 13 years, only 4% were directed by women.
  • In the 88-year history of the Oscars, only one woman has ever been awarded Best Director.

She is part of the solution and her artist statement is profound.

Get to know Naomi and her upcoming film Imagine I’m Beautiful

Twitter: @NaomiMcDougallJ


Film website:

Naomi’s Artistic Statement:

As a storyteller, I am driven by the belief that more and more audiences are tired of re-makes and prequels and sequels that have been formulaically assembled under the assumption that a great film is a mathematical equation. I believe there are those who crave what I crave as an audience member: to be genuinely surprised; to have my own prejudices exploded; to leave the theater altered from who I was when I went in.

I believe that my generation has not given up on goofy, joyful, freewheeling optimism even in the face of technology, internet self-invention and post-9/11 world terror.  I believe that we are, rather, starving more than ever for stories that will lift our minds to look beyond ourselves; to engage with and improve upon the world around us.

 I believe furthermore that we are on the frontier of an unexplored expanse of the female perspective in filmmaking. I am not satisfied that one or two or four women are being given a seat at the table to tell their stories. That happening is good, but it is not good enough. 

We do not yet even know what it will look like to actually have a substantial choir of female voices, sharing with richness and diversity the multitudinous facets of the female perspective. I believe that as we are able to share our perspective, to have an artistic dialogue with one another, to save ourselves from the dismissiveness of the “chick flick,” that the very fabric of our society will change for the better, as men and women are presented with a broader perspective.

And I am exhilarated, because, as the traditional distribution models break down, we filmmakers are more keenly positioned than ever to get our work directly into audiences’ hungry hands, bypassing the gatekeepers who have, for so long, dictated the “tastes” of the viewer.

As women and as indie filmmakers, I believe we must come together as strong individual voices and as a community to offer audiences a stronger alternative to the monochrome fare of the mainstream. 


I am Woman but I am not Roaring…

o-gender-equality-sign-facebookI had the privilege to moderate a panel on gender parity  at Salon Creative Lounge (presented by International Women Artists’ Salon). Nine women from different disciplines shared the statistics of women who work in their field; how women continue to experience discrimination in the workplace; and how some of our male counterparts are unaware of this. This isn’t a new struggle but it is a conversation that needs to continue.

I believe in a sisterhood. I believe we should always raise each other up as others are so willing to tear us down. I believe in change.

Thank you Amber Sloan (dance), Vanessa Morrison (film), Felicia Lin (publishing), Lea Anderson (music),  Liza Boulus (theater), Naomi McDougall Jones (film), Regine L. Sawyer (comic book), Shellen Lubin (theater; contributor to below article), Vera Tse (design). And kudos to Jenny Green (theatre) and Heidi Russell (visual artist/founder of IWAS) for creating the space for this conversation.

As I was preparing for the panel (and my discipline), I am across this great article by Martha Richards for American Theatre Magazine.  Here’s how we can be a part of the solution.

(reposted from American Theatre Magazine, June 9, 2015)

7 Steps for Achieving Gender Parity in the Theatre 



At an April conference in Toronto, we came up with a plan for change that can take root and grow into a more equitable future for female theatre artists.


Over the past six years there have been eight substantial studies on the status of women in theatre in the U.S. and elsewhere.1 The methodologies have varied, but whether the studies were done in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Princeton, Boston, Washington, D.C., or Toronto, they revealed alarming consistencies. They have found that women are underrepresented in most job categories; that women are clustered in the lower-paying jobs; and that employment growth for women in theatre has been stagnant over time in most cities. The most recent Canadian study found that there has been minimal improvement in the status of women in Canadian theatre over the past 30 years, and that similar patterns of discrimination have been documented in Great Britain, Australia and the U.S.

We have proven that gender discrimination is a persistent problem in theatre; now we need to figure out how to fix it. As we look at the field, we can see that women all over the world are trying to address this issue with various strategies. What would happen if we could find a way to coordinate these efforts and maximize their impact? Could we reach a tipping point where the barriers for women theatre artists would finally come crashing down?

To address these questions, WomenArts joined forces with New York’s Women in the Arts & Media Coalition and Equity in Theatre (a coalition of nine Canadian organizations) to convene our first international summit on gender parity in theatre. We gathered 21 gender parity activists2 in Toronto on April 28, 2015 to review the current research, share strategies and discuss ways to transform the existing efforts into a paradigm-shifting international movement.

Our meeting included the authors of gender parity studies from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston and Canada, as well as representatives from other organizations that have been leading advocates for women in theatre for decades, such as the League of Professional Theatre Women, theInternational Centre for Women Playwrights and Teatro Luna. Though many of us had been following each other’s work online for years, most of us had never met face-to-face before, and it was exhilarating to be in a room together.

As we shared information about the most effective projects we had seen, we compiled the following list of strategies that seem especially promising. Throughout the day, we asked ourselves: If we had $5 million to advance gender parity, what would we spend it on? As you look at our list, we encourage you to ask yourself this question, too—even if you don’t have that kind of money. If we can articulate the kinds of staff and projects that we need, we can start looking for ways to fund them.

      1. Build alliances with other social justice groups. The biggest challenge we face is that sexism in theatre is closely linked to sexism, racism, classism and other forms of discrimination that underpin our current socioeconomic system. The arts help us think about our social and political lives in new ways, but corporate America would rather have us focused on shopping. It is no accident that the top-selling film for 2015 is Furious 7 (ticket sales of $1.4 billion worldwide in its first 12 days), a big-budget action film with so much product placement that it often feels like a two-and-a-half-hour commercial.

        This undercurrent of consumerism pulls at us constantly. If you stand in line at the TKTS booth in Times Square, you might be able to buy tickets to Broadway shows written or directed by women—but you will be surrounded by giant billboards displaying women’s bodies to sell products. For every new play with fresh perspectives on women, there are hundreds of advertisements and product placements that reinforce discriminatory attitudes about gender, race and class.

        As gender parity advocates, we need to find ways to counteract this consumerism, and we need to join forces with women’s organizations, anti-racism groups and others who are addressing discrimination in other contexts. This is especially important, since so many women experience multiple forms of discrimination.

        2. Work with women in other art forms. Women in other art forms are experiencing similar gender discrimination issues and are organizing their own studies and initiatives. We can show our solidarity and increase our visibility by participating in cross-disciplinary initiatives likeSupport Women Artists Now Day, an annual international celebration of women’s creativity in all art forms.

        We can also adapt innovative strategies being used in other art forms, such as these three recent film initiatives: Gamechanger Films is the first equity fund that focuses exclusively on financing narrative feature films directed by women; the ACLU has just demanded that federal and state agencies investigate discrimination against women film directors in Hollywood; and the Geena Davis Institute on Media partnered with UN Women and the Rockefeller Foundation to do the first-ever global study of gender stereotyping in the international film industry.

        3. Teach plays by women. More students need to be exposed to female playwrights in school. We feel this is one of the most important areas to address, since so many attitudes about women and girls are shaped in schools. If future artistic directors and other theatrical decision-makers have never been exposed to female playwrights in school, they are much less likely to select them for productions.

        To ensure that women are included in the curriculum from elementary school through graduate school, we want to mobilize committees of educators at every grade level to develop course materials that include female playwrights and persuade their male and female colleagues that it is important to teach more plays by women.

        One sample program that has been designed to increase the teaching of historical women playwrights is History Matters/Back to the Future, in which high school teachers and college professors across the country are being invited to include the work of an historic female playwright in one class per semester. Teachers are given a 50-minute lesson plan and other teaching materials, and their students are eligible to compete for the annual $2,500Judith Barlow Prize for the best one-act play written in the style of an historic female playwright. The teacher of the winning student receives a prize of $500. About 50 professors have joined the program so far.

        Also, the National Theatre Conference, an alliance of leaders in commercial, non-commercial, and educational theatre, has created the Women Playwrights Initiative, which asks member theatres and educational theatre programs to dedicate one full production slot (not just a reading or a workshop) each year for three years to a contemporary female American playwright. Members are encouraged to select plays that have not been produced on Broadway recently, and to invite the playwright for a residency during the production of her play.

        4. Encourage production of plays by female playwrights. Some artistic directors claim that they would produce more plays by women but they just can’t find enough good ones. The Kilroys is a group of female artists in Los Angeles who consulted with artistic directors, literary managers, dramaturgs and others to compile a list of excellent contemporary plays by women that has been widely publicized and distributed. As a direct result of our meeting in Toronto, women in Canada are now working on a “Kilroys list” of Canadian female playwrights.

        Another initiative that could be replicated is the Women’s Voices Theater Festival, which will take place in Washington, D.C., in fall 2015. More than 50 professional theatres in and around Washington, D.C., will present world-premiere productions of a work by one or more female playwrights. This festival will be the largest collaboration of theatre companies working simultaneously to produce original works by female writers in history.

        The International Centre for Women Playwrights encourages productions of plays by women through their 50/50 Applause Awards, which recognize theatre companies that produce seasons where 50 percent or more of the productions and performances are of plays by women. The program started in 2012, and they have given out more than 100 awards so far. The honored companies receive an award logo to use in their publicity, and they are invited to participate in a celebratory video.

        Since female playwrights tend to create more female characters, and women are often selected to direct their plays, producing plays by women often results in increased employment for other women in the field.

        5. Meet individually with artistic directors. In the San Francisco Bay Area, Shotgun Players’ 2015 season features six mainstage plays and six staged readings by female playwrights, and they have made a commitment to strive for gender parity in future seasons. Magic Theatre in San Francisco has also just announced that their 2015–16 season will include six productions by female playwrights.

        It seems that one-on-one discussions with the artistic directors and peer pressure can have a powerful impact on a theatre’s commitment to gender parity. In the case of Shotgun Players, the male artistic director revealed in a recent panel discussion that he had not been thinking about the depth of the gender disparity problem in theatre until female company members spoke up and asked for gender to be a consideration in season planning.

        6. Work with the unions. Since unions have the power to defend their members from unfair labor practices, we need to find more ways to work with our unions to advance gender parity in theatre. We need to work with them to develop equal opportunity standards for theatres that would ensure fair hiring practices for women as well as equal pay for equal work. We also need to have deeper discussions with unions about the best ways to represent their members in a field that is so severely under-funded. We want theatre managers to treat women fairly, but we also recognize that arts funding has been steadily decreasing over the past 30 years, and that few people are making a living from their work onstage.The 2013-14 Actors Equity Theatrical Season Report indicated that only 41.3 percent of their members worked at all in 2013–14, and that the median income per working member was $7,483 for 16.7 weeks of work.  Only 9 percent of those working members (i.e., fewer than 1,600 people nationwide) made $50,000 or more from their Actors Equity employment.

        If we achieved gender parity on those totals, it would mean that only 800 women nationwide would make $50,000 or more from their Equity work. That’s just not enough! Our fair labor strategy needs to include advocacy for much more funding for the arts, and the unions could be powerful allies in this work.

        7. Legislative approaches. In the upcoming elections, we need to make sure we educate all the candidates about the need to increase arts funding at the federal and state levels. We also need to investigate whether women artists are getting their fair share of federal and state arts funding and file petitions as needed.

We offer the list above as a starting point for discussion. We plan to organize follow-up meetings over the coming year to get more people involved, and we want to form committees to work on various strategies. WomenArts has also compiled a list of ways that different kinds of theatre artists can advance gender parity on our Choices You Can Make page.

If you have comments or suggestions, or if you would like to volunteer to organize a gender parity discussion in your community or serve on a committee, please write to WomenArts. We look forward to working with you to build a world where every woman will be able to express the full range of her creativity.

SPECIAL THANKS:  Special thanks to Shellen Lubin, co-president of Women in the Arts and Media Coalition, Rebecca Burton and Laine Zisman Newman, co-chairs of the Equity in Theatre Initiative and Christine Young, WomenArts board member, for their help in organizing the Toronto gender parity summit.

1- Links to the Recent Gender Parity Studies:
  Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative looked at 4,800 plays from 2002 to 2010 in Los Angeles; Chicago Storefront Summit looked a 1113 plays produced in Chicago in 2009; Emily Glass Sands, a Princeton student examined the status of women playwrights nationwide in 2009; the League of Professional Theatre Women studied 355 Off-Broadway productions between 2010 and 2014; The Counting Actors Project & WomenArtsexamined 500 productions in the San Francisco Bay Area from 2011 to 2014; Gwydion Suilebhanhas published three annual reports on playwright and director demographics in Washington, D.C., with assistance from David Mitchell Robinson and Patricia Connelly; Equity in Theatre has just released a study of women in Canadian theatre; and the StageSource Gender Parity Task Force is about to release an analysis of productions in the Greater Boston area.

2 – List of People Who Attended the Summit

Boston: Julie Hennrikus, executive director, StageSource
Chicago:  Alexandra Meda, executive director, and Abigail Vega, managing director, of Teatro Luna
New York: Shellen Lubin, co-president Women in the Arts & Media Coalition and co-secretary,League of Professional Theatre Women; Maria Nieto, Women in the Arts & Media Coalition board member representing Writers Guild of America; Lesleh Donaldson, actor; Sophia Romma, co-chair of International Committee of the League of Professional Theatre Women and vice president ofInternational Centre for Women Playwrights; Patrick J. O’Neill, founder, O’Neill Foundation; Peggy Chane, producer and member of International Committee of the League of Professional Theatre Women; Yvette Heyliger, actor and playwright, Dramatists Guild Women’s Initiative &Obama for America organizing fellow.
Los Angeles: Jennie Webb, playwright and cofounder, Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative; Alice Tuan, playwright and teacher
San Francisco: Martha Richards, executive director, WomenArts; Christine Young, theatre professor, University of San Francisco, founder, Works by Women San Francisco and board member of WomenArts; Valerie Weak, actor, teacher and founder, Counting Actors Project, and cofounder, Works by Women San Francisco Meet-up Group.  Richards, Young, and Weak are all members of the Gender Parity Committee of Theatre Bay Area.
Toronto: Rebecca Burton, co-chair, Equity in Theatre and membership and contracts manager,  Playwrights Guild of Canada; Laine Zisman Newman, co-chair, Equity in Theatre and dramaturgical associate, Pat the Dog Theatre Creation;  Jennie Egerdie, Metcalf intern, Equity in Theatre;  Michelle MacArthur, PhD, instructor, University of Toronto, and author of Achieving Equity in Canadian Theatre; Cole Alvis, executive director of the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance and artistic producer of lemonTree creations; Sheila Sky, executive director, Associated Designers of Canada.

Martha Richards is the executive director of WomenArts