A Question of Equity - April 1990

Submitted by root on Mon, 08/07/2017 - 17:44

Women in the Arts

4. WORKS BY WOMEN: b) Performimg Arts

The main productions at our two major Liverpool theatres are performed on some 30 plus occasions; studio productions usually ran for a maximum of 3 weeks, and small scale touring or community productions normally for 1 to 3 nights (though these can be presented in 3/4 venues within the region thus giving a maximum of 12 performances). This means that main house or large scale touring productions have the potential to reach audiences of 12,000 to 24,000, whereas other productions have the potential to reach audiences of as little as 120 or as many as 2,500 depending on where and for how long they are presented. It can therefore be seen that evaluating the presence of women as creators in the perfor­ming arts is not simply a case of considering who created the works but also means looking at the contexts in which the works were presented.

I am not unaware that theatre is a communal activity and a creative input is made by a number of people. Here, however, I am looking primarily at the writer or choreographer of the works - not the director or set designer - because I believe, that, at base, it is the writer's or choreographer's view of the world that the work seeks to convey.

 i) Drama: Mainstages: 8 works - 7 of which were by men (2 of them being by Shakespeare) - totalling some 73 performances.

Touring productions: 20 works - of which 15 were by men (6 being by Shakespeare), and one of which was traditional - totalling some 59 performances. The 4 (20%) works by women had one performance each - that is some 6% of the performances. 1 of the works was by a black woman.

Local productions including studio works, youth theatre work, community productions, and amateur productions (where they are in receipt of subsidy): 54 works - of which 33 (over 60%) were by men, 2 were community productions, 5 had joint male and female authorship, and 15 (27%) were by women. This represented 192 performances of which 56 (29%) were exclusively devoted to work by women and a further 37 (19%) had some input by women. I do not know how many of these works were by black women - though where I do have the information with regard to the racial background of the creator (in some 70% of the cases) they were by white women. The same applies to disabled women where I simply do not have the information.

As will be seen from the above, in general it can be said that the main auditoria within the region are occupied by works by men and the further one moves away from the main auditoria the more likely one is to see works by women. However even within these less prestigious contexts, works by women make up less than 30% of the total.

ii) Musicals and Pantomimes: Of late there has been a growing tendency for our subsi­dised theatre to venture into realms which were once regarded as the prerogative of the commercial theatre. I have therefore decided to look separately at this area of work. In considering musicals I have taken into account both the composer and the librettist.