At Fishamble, we aim to develop and produce a high quality, varied programme of new plays without any discrimination because of the gender, race or background of the playwrights. The excellent posts of many of our colleagues on WakingTheFeminists.org have caused us to look closely at our facts and figures in relation to gender balance.
Attendees of our playwriting course over the past three years have been:
– Women 60%
– Men 40%
Plays we supported on their way to production, through the New Play Clinic over the past three years, are led by:
– Women 62%
– Men 38%
Submissions to Fishamble when we call for short plays to be part of multi-writer productions, or to Show in a Bag (a joint initiative between Dublin Fringe Festival, Fishamble and Irish Theatre Institute) are about:
– Women 50%
– Men 50%
The Fishamble New Writing awards at the Dublin Fringe Festival have been given 6 times to women and 4 times to men (as well as 1 co-authored play by women and men).
However, unsolicited plays submitted to Fishamble last year were written by:
– Women 29%
– Men 71%
Perhaps this is partly to do with factors that Belinda McKeon, among others, has pointed out so eloquently recently.
So we have examined our track record at Fishamble in more depth.
Over the past 25 years, Fishamble has produced original plays by 98 writers; 42 women and 56 men:
– Women 43%
– Men 57%
Figures can be looked at in a range of ways, of course, and when we break them down slightly differently to look at the number of productions, rather than the number of writers, Fishamble has produced 52 plays by female writers and 82 plays by male writers, as well as one play written jointly by female and male writers:
– Women 39%
– Men 61%
This is because we have produced multiple plays by fewer female playwrights than male – for instance, we are very proud to have produced five plays by Pat Kinevane, but we haven’t produced five plays by any one female playwright yet. When we exclude plays that were performed with other short plays, as part of multi-writer projects such as Whereabouts, Shorts, and Tiny Plays for Ireland, then the figures are less gender balanced, with 12 ‘full length’ plays by women, and 35 by men:
– Women 26%
– Men 74%
It does seem that, when Fishamble offers active supports, more women are likely to avail of them, or when we call for submissions of plays for specific initiatives, at least the same number of women are inclined to apply, but that men are more likely to submit plays to us in a more neutral/unsolicited environment.
We are examining our development and commissioning processes to ensure that the structures within Fishamble are not discriminatory in any way and allow for fully equal opportunities for female and male playwrights and other theatre artists. We look forward to further, ongoing discussions with our colleagues, theatre artists and #WTF to explore the issues raised by this debate and continue to play our part in the production of new plays from a diverse range of voices, including but not limited to gender, regionality, backgrounds and experiences, in order to bring audiences across Ireland and elsewhere a rich variety of dramatic work from a host of perspectives.
Artistic Director, Fishamble: The New Play Company