50/50 Applause Awards from ICWP Honors Gender Equity

by Michael Eddy
 International Centre for Women Playwrights
International Centre for Women Playwrights
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The 2017 International Centre for Women Playwrights (ICWP) 50/50 Applause Awards celebrates gender parity for women playwrights at 58 theatres throughout The United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, United Kingdom, Singapore, and Tasmania. These 58 recipients will receive the 2017 50/50 Applause Award, for producing 50% or more plays by women playwrights in their 2016/17 season. 

The major criteria for the awards in 2017 were that a theatre had to have three or more productions, both male and female playwrights in their season, and at least 50% of the full-length plays and performances must be the work of female playwrights. 

For the 2016-17 season, approximately 32% of the qualifying theatres are repeat recipients. Awardees range from community and college theatres to internationally renowned public theatres. HERE Arts Center in New York City has received the award for five years running and U.S. companies Off the Wall Productions, Carnegie, PA, and the Latino Theatre in Los Angeles, CA for four years running.

According to a 2015 study by the League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW) “Women Count: Women Hired Off-Broadway 2010-2015”, women playwrights were produced 28%-36% of the time. The UK’s Purple Seven study “Gender in Theatre” of 2012-2015 seasons, reported 28% of playwrights were female. 

In France, a five-year research project by activist group “Où sont les Femmes?” has revealed a bleak picture for female dramatists, prompting the Department of Culture to draw up an action plan for gender equity. Theatres that receive public funding were highlighted, as they have a responsibility to taxpayers to spend public funds fairly. 

The activism of the Kilroys and other groups like the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative (LAFPI) came in the midst of an uproar surrounding a 2015 study called “The Count,” funded by the Lilly Awards, which honor the work of women in American theater, and the Dramatists Guild of America. 

A similar outcry erupted in Ireland, in 2016, when the Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s national theatre, launched its program to mark the centenary of the 1916 Rising; only one out of the ten plays programmed were written by a woman. The campaign #WakingTheFeminists was born from the fury of female and male professionals protesting the biased selection. 

More women have had one-time productions of their shows in 2016. In fact, on April 13 and 23, 2016, the Royal National Theatre in London, UK, had plays by women on three stages on the same night. But, there is the continuing difficulty of achieving second and subsequent staging of their plays, which is a roadblock to development. 

Worldwide, there is still a disparity in the size of theatre venues, production runs and stages that women playwrights are given compared to male playwrights. The Kilroys are exploring how they can help begin careers and how they can help sustain them. Theatres researching plays by contemporary female playwrights can look at the Kilroys List, the 49 List, the New Play Exchange, and Treepress.com for more information. 

“The economic, development and career outcomes for female dramatists are severe when there is no equal opportunities policy being pursued,” stated Patricia L. Morin, 50/50 Awards Co-chair. “The current situation is economic discrimination. Until there is positive action, the world’s theatre stages will continue to promote the male imagination and female voices will remain unheard, to the detriment of the wider society.” 

The 50/50 Applause Award recipients for the 2017 season.
Alberta Theatre Projects, Arena Stage, Arts Club Theatre, Aurora Theatre Company, Borderland Theatre, Book It Rep Theatre, Cadence Theatre Company (in partnership with Virginia Rep), Carousel Theatre for Young People, Center Stage, Central Works, Checkpoint Theatre, City Theatre Company, Company One Theatre, Curious Theatre Company, Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre, Entity Theatre, Globe Theatre, Great Canadian Theatre Company, Guthrie Theater, HERE Arts Center, History Theatre, Imago Theatre, Key City Public Theatre, Know Theatre of Cincinnati, Latino Theater Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, Marin Theatre Company, Mildred's Umbrella Theater Company, Northlight Theatre, Off the Wall Productions, Open Stage of Harrisburg, Pacific Theatre, Plan-B Theatre Company, PlayMakers Repertory Company, Playwrights Horizons, Prairie Theatre Exchange, Public Theatre, Rep Stage (Howard Community College), Round House Theatre, Royal Court Theatre, Royal Manitoba Theatre Company, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Signature Theatre, South Coast Rep, State Theatre Company of South Australia, Storycrafter Studio, Tasmanian Theatre, Teatro Paraguas, The Belfry Theatre, The Bread & Roses Theatre, The Kingfisher Theater, Theater Alliance, Theatre Passe Muraille, University of Nebraska Omaha Theatre, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Theatre Co., Victory Gardens Theater, Windy City Playhouse, Yale Repertory Theatre

View the 50/50 Applause Awards 2017 video, which showcases photos from over thirty theatres and a selection of their female authored plays on YouTube -https://youtu.be/ylBqH-nfohY

About ICWP:
ICWP started in 1988 with a mission to support women playwrights worldwide and bring attention to their work. The ICWP 50/50 Applause Awards were founded in 2012 to increase awareness and applaud theatres that produced a season with an equal or greater number of plays written by female playwrights. 

Further information from ICWP: www.womenplaywrights.org