The Goodman Theatre has announced that its new playwrights unit will be comprised entirely of women. The writers selected for the Chicago-based theater’s 2015-16 season are Kristiana Rae Colón, Sandra Delgado, Jenni Lamb and Calamity West.
The year-long residency, which requires participants to attend bi-monthly meetings with the theater’s artistic team, is intended to help playwrights develop new works. The unit will present public, staged readings of completed works at the conclusion of the season.
Tayna Palmer, The Goodman’s director of new play development, said that the theater did not intentionally seek out an all-female playwrights unit — the selectees were simply the applicants they were most excited about, and they happened to be women. Palmer did, however, note that she considers nurturing underrepresented voices a priority for the theater: The Goodman has produced 35 world premieres over the past decade, and 68 percent of them were penned by a woman playwright and/or a playwright of color.
When we reported on a new study showing that more plays written by women are being staged, we observed that a high percentage of productions in Chicago were written by female playwrights (36 percent, compared to the national average of 22 percent.) It’s likely that The Goodman Theatre influenced those stats.
Of the top 20 most-produced playwrights of the 2015-16 season (excluding Shakespeare), only four are women.