Earlier this week, the theatre community in across the UK came together to discuss the problem of gender inequity on its stages. The numbers are just as bad over on that side of the Atlantic as they are in the US. Currently in the West End (the English equivalent of Broadway), only 29% of shows are directed by women, and only one show playing was written by a woman (and that is Mousetrap, which is over fifty years old.)
Advance brought together eleven British theatre leaders who wanted to change the problem of gender inequity, but didn’t know how to go about doing that. So Advance worked with each theatre for over six months to really dig in deep and research as to why these inequities were happening. They focused on the artistic side of the work, not the management with full institutional buy-in, to figure out a plan for each theatre to bring in more women. Each theatre started at a different point with a different question, and then came up with a plan. The work is being monitored by academics at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
This seems to me like a radically different attempt to push for gender equity. It’s not a negative frame; it’s not someone coming in and saying, You’ve done a shitty job at this in the past, here are the numbers, let’s see what we can do about this. Rather, this is a really proactive attempt to bring in the individuals and the theatres to address each of their own needs. This seems to be the theatres themselves digging in and asking the hard questions and coming up with their own solutions. Even the description of what Advance is sounds radical: “Advance is working with England’s leading theatres, transforming their aspiration for gender equality into reality.”
I wondered if this plan could be applicable to other industries like film and reached out to Lucy to ask her thoughts. Here’s her answer:
One of the key points here is walking into the conversation believing that people want to see change happen, that people have good intentions and the belief that this problem CAN be solved. It’s not going to be easy, but the work is going to be worth it.
Lucy also commented on the biggest takeaway from Advance’s progress and what will happen next.
Learn more about Advance.