Women in theatre: the Philip Parons Memorial Lecture ~ theatre notes

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Women in theatre: the Philip Parons Memorial Lecture

Keen theatrenauts will have no problem calling to mind the on-going debate over the place of women in Australian theatre. Sparked by a season launch at Company B Belvoir St that overshadowed Neil Armfield's farewell season by fielding one woman among a brace of male directors, the debate has widened to a discussion about gender equity in the key creative roles in all Australia's main stage theatres.

The furore has prompted some patronising from the UK, which, as an irresistible aside, feels a bit rich when you consider the National Theatre's current seasons. The October-January season running presently has, out of a total of 30 writers and directors, only five women; January-March has a total of 27, and again only five women. Looks like exactly the same problem to me.

The latest move here is a request from Melbourne University that the MTC appoint an Equal Opportunity Officer who will address the lack of opportunities for women directors. As John Bailey comments, it's a little odd for the UoM to demand the creation of positions while it is so merrily decimating its own departments, but that's another question.

Meanwhile, Belvoir St in Sydney is taking the bull by the horns and opening the question to public debate. The Philip Parsons Memorial Lecture for 2009 will be given over to a panel to debate this very question as it pertains to directors: Where Are The Women? The debate will be introduced and backgrounded by Rachel Healy, director performing arts at the Sydney Opera House, who will then join the discussion. Fielded by journalist Monica Attard, the panel will also include myself; emerging director Shannon Murphy; Marion Potts, associate artistic director at Bell Shakespeare; and Gil Appleton, who will provide a historical overview. Then the floor will be opened for debate. I expect a lively, fascinating and - I hope - illuminating discussion.

The debate, which will be followed by the presentation of the Philip Parsons Young Playwright's Award, is on Sunday December 6 at 2pm, and tickets are $10. Bookings 02 9699 3444.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

On this topic, might be of interest that Red Stitch announced the first half of their 2010 season and lo and behold.....all women directors. From what i can gather purely by chance i might add....seems they were simply the best canditates for the job.