The National Theatre in London has set a target of achieving a 50/50 gender balance among its directors and living writers by 2021.
The plans were revealed by the prominent British venue’s current artistic director, Rufus Norris, as he announced a forthcoming season which features new work from playwrights Lucy Kirkwood, Bryony Kimmings, Nina Raine and Gillian Slovo. "There are a lot of women playwrights and women directors coming through so it’s our responsibility to encourage that and reap the benefits," said Norris.
The director also emphasized that more needed to be done to improve BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) representation on stage. Prominent diversity campaigner Lenny Henry is to join the National Theatre’s board. Meanwhile, the Act for Change project, who agitate for greater inclusivity across the arts, have taken up residency at the venue — in the director’s words, "[t]hey are there as provocation."
Upcoming productions at the National include a color-blind revival of "Amadeus," and "Twelfth Night" featuring actress Tamsin Greig ("Episodes") as a gender-bent Malvolio. The new season reflects Norris’s commitment to what he describes as "360-degree diversity." In his words, "We have got to make this feel like it’s not just an organisation, but an industry, that is open to the whole of the nation and it’s something we take very seriously."
News of the theatre’s gender balance target comes hot on the heels of the unveiling of a new campaign in the UK that calls for equal representation for actresses by 2018.