The majority of plays on the Great White Way this year are about men and written by men. Want to hear some scary statistics?
Boys, boys, boys! This year on Broadway it is a celebration of boys! Step aside, girls – it’s time for the boys!
The New York Times tells us this week that this is the Year of the Man. This year is nothing like last year, when there was actually one new play, written by a woman (me), on Broadway. At the tail end of the season a revival of Top Girls by Caryl Churchill snuck into the lineup too. And then lots of awards went to Tracy Letts – who is a man, but whose name sounds like it could be a woman’s name. So that’s TWO women and one guy whose name sounds like a woman’s. It was exhausting dealing with all that estrogen. Time to give the men a chance.
Could we get real? Every year is the Year of the Man, with a couple of women who manage to crawl their way into the lineup. In the 2008/2009 season, as it has been announced, the number of plays written by women on New York stages will amount to 12.6% of the total. Want to know the same figure for the 1908/1909 season? Let’s see, it was … 12.8%!
One might put this trend down to something like, hmm, discrimination. But actually what we’re told is that the plays that are produced are just the plays that were worth doing, and that playwriting is in fact a Y-chromosome gene. So women should just back off, because putting plays written by women into production because maybe audiences might like a really well-written play that was well-written by a woman would be pandering to ideas of political correctness. And art doesn’t do that.
What art does is celebrate the lives and struggles of men.
It also apparently celebrates big nasty women who wreck their children’s lives. Last season, Mama Rose once again held the stage; the mother in August: Osage County is a real monster too. So two terrifying women in plays written by men were up to their old tricks. This, we are told, is really what made last season a woman’s year. That and the fact that the audience is at least 60% female. Which, by the way, we wouldn’t want to pander to either. Letting women writers speak to an audience that is mostly women? It’s a grotesque idea. We might as well sit around and knit sweaters. Forget it.
There’s some feeling in rehearsal halls and writers’ retreats and drunken dinner parties, that maybe the American theatre participates rather too enthusiastically in the supposed gender bias that the American media tosses about willy-nilly while discussing candidates for higher office. Mostly it is women playwrights who feel that way; male playwrights think the system is really, really fair and that women playwrights who raise these questions are whiners or dirty feminists. After all, everyone is discriminated against! It’s show business! Nobody’s happy! We’re all narcissistic egomaniacs, you can’t expect it to make sense! This is about the work. Which means, apparently, that any woman who cares enough to raise her voice about the fact that women’s stories are not reaching the stages for which they are intended is a whiner, a dirty feminist and a lousy artist too – because a true artist wouldn’t care.
Honestly I am not making one word of this up.
“Who owns the stories, owns the culture.” For the life of me I can’t remember who said that, but by God it is true.
Reposted from The Guardian