Sunday, March 16, 2014

New Play Ecology 2014, part 3, New England



So a week or so ago, I took a look at this season's outlook for new plays and Boston playwrights, for large-medium theaters and the fringe (and overall).  But what about the rest of New England?

Boston writers are close enough to most theaters in the rest of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine to take part in the development and production of their work, if their plays were being produced.  Are they?  How are New England playwrights faring at home, generally?

I wrote a similar post in 2010, but this time I'm also collecting some demographics.

Let's take a look at how many world premieres we have, state by state.  (I'm using 2013-2014 seasons, or 2014 seasons if they've been announced.)

Massachusetts:

Acme Theater:  World Premieres: 1. New Works Festival. Total plays:  5.  Written by women: 2; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 1; directed by people of color: 0.

Barrington Stage Company:  World Premieres: 1. The Golem of Havana, book by Michel Hausmann, music by Salomon Lerner, Lyrics by Ken Schiff. Total plays:  9.  Written by women: 1; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 4; directed by people of color: 0.

Berkshire Theatre Festival:   World Premieres: 1.  Cedars by Erik Tarloff. Total plays:  10.  Written by women: 2; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 2; directed by people of color: 1.

Firehouse Center for the Arts:World Premieres: 1. New Works Festival. Total plays:  3.  Written by women: 1; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 1; directed by people of color: 0.

Gloucester Stage Company: World Premieres: 0.  Total plays:  4.  Written by women: 1; by people of color: 1; directed by women: 0; directed by people of color: 0.

Harbor Stage:  World Premieres: 1. The Billingsgate Project by Brenda Withers.  Total plays:  3.  Written by women: 1; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 0; directed by people of color: 0.

Image Theater:  World Premieres: 1. FemNoire 2014, Festival of Women Playwrights. Total plays:  1.  Written by women: 1; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 1; directed by people of color: 0.

Merrimack Repertory Theatre: World Premieres: 0.  Total plays:  7.  Written by women: 1; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 1; directed by people of color: 0.

New Century Theatre:  World Premieres: 0. Total plays:  4.  Written by women: 1; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 0; directed by people of color: 0.

North Shore Music Theater:  World Premieres: 0.  Total plays:  5.  Written by women: 0; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 0; directed by people of color: 0.

Salem Theatre Company:  World Premieres: 1. Moments of Play Festival. Total plays:  5.  Written by women: 0; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 0; directed by people of color: 0.

Wellesley Summer Theatre Company:   World Premieres: 0.  Total plays:  2.  Written by women: 1; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 2; directed by people of color: 0.


Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater:  World Premieres: 1. The Trials of Gertrude Moody by Kimberly Burke.  Total plays:  4.  Written by women: 1; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 1; directed by people of color: 0. 

Williamstown Theatre Festival:   World Premieres: 0.  Total plays:  6.  Written by women: 0; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 2; directed by people of color: 0.

Connecticut:

Connecticut Repertory Theatre:  World Premieres: 1.  The Goblin Market by Penny Benson. Total plays:  6.  Written by women: 2; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 1; directed by people of color: 1.

Goodspeed Musicals:   World Premieres: 2. The Circus in Winter, music and lyrics by Ben Clark, book by Hunter Foster and Beth Turcotte; Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn, music and lyrics by Ivring Berlin, book by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge.  Total plays:  4.  Written by women: 1; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 0; directed by people of color: 0.

Hartford Stage:   World Premieres: 0.  Total plays:  5.  Written by women: 0; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 1; directed by people of color: 0.

Long Wharf Theatre:   World Premieres: 2. The Consultant by Heidi Schreck, The Shadow of the Hummingbird by Athol Fugard. Total plays:  6.  Written by women: 2; by people of color: 1; directed by women: 1; directed by people of color: 2.

Seven Angels Theatre (Waterbury):   World Premieres: 1. Romance Language by Joe Godfrey.  Total plays:  5.  Written by women: 1; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 4; directed by people of color: 0.

Yale Repertory:   World Premieres: 1.  The House That Will Not Stand by Marcus Gardley. Total plays:  6.  Written by women: 2; by people of color: 1; directed by women: 4; directed by people of color: 1.


Maine:

Mad Horse Theatre Company (Portland):  World Premieres: 0.  Total plays:  4.  Written by women: 0; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 1; directed by people of color: 0.

Penobscot Theatre.   World Premieres: 1. One Blue Tarp by Travis Baker. Total plays:  7.  Written by women: 2; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 4; directed by people of color: 0.

Portland Stage Company:   World Premieres: 1. Veils by Tom Coash.  Total plays:  8.  Written by women: 1; by people of color: 1; directed by women: 3; directed by people of color: 1.

The Public Theatre (Lewiston/Auburn):  World Premieres: 0.  Total plays:  4.  Written by women: 1; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 0; directed by people of color: 0.


New Hampshire:

Peterborough Players:  World Premieres: 1. The Granite State by Charles Morey. Total plays:  10.  Written by women: 2; by people of color: 1; directed by women: 1; directed by people of color: 0. (I'm still waiting to find out who their directors are.)

Seacoast Repertory Theatre:   World Premieres: 0.  Total plays:  7.  Written by women: 0; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 0; directed by people of color: 0.


Rhode Island:

Trinity Repertory Company:    World Premieres: 1.  Veronica Meadows by Stephen Thorne. Total plays:  4.  Written by women: 0; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 1; directed by people of color: 0.

The Gamm Theatre:  World Premieres: 0.  Total plays:  5.  Written by women: 1; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 2; directed by people of color: 0.

Wilbury Theatre Group:  World Premieres: 0.  Total plays:  5.  Written by women: 3; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 1; directed by people of color: 0.



Vermont:

Dorset Theatre Festival:  World Premieres: 1. Out of the City by Leslie Ayvazian (this is premiering at other places this summer, too.) Total plays:  5.  Written by women: 2; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 3; directed by people of color: 0.

Lost Nation Theater:  World Premieres: 0.  Total plays:  6.  Written by women: 0; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 0; directed by people of color: 0.  (I'm still waiting to find out who their directors are.)

Northern Stage:  World Premieres: 0.  Total plays:  6.  Written by women: 1; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 5; directed by people of color: 0.

Vermont Stage Company:  World Premieres: 1.  The Quarry by Greg Pierce.  Total plays:  5.  Written by women: 1; by people of color: 0; directed by women: 4; directed by people of color: 0.

Weston Playhouse Theatre Company:  World Premieres: 1.  Analog and Vinyl, book, music, and Lyrics by Paul Gordon.  Total plays:  7.  Written by women: 2; by people of color: 1; directed by women: 0; directed by people of color: 0.  (I'm still waiting to find out who their directors are.)


Okay, that's 34 theaters.  Here's how it breaks down for New England (not including Boston):
22 world premieres
12 were by New England writers (55%)
11  were written by women (50%)  (This is counting festivals of short plays.)
1 was written by a person of color  (5%)

Total plays produced by 34 theatres:  183
Percentage that were world premieres:  12%

37 Total plays written by women:    (20%)
5 Total written by people of color:  (3%)
53 Total directed by women:  (29%)  
6 Total directed by people of color:  (3%)
(I'm still waiting for some director info, so these aren't final numbers)


So.  The numbers highly discouraging.  There aren't many new plays being produced in New England outside the Boston Metro Area. The number of new plays written by women is close to parity, but the number of new plays by people of color is dismal.

If you look at the demographic numbers for all productions, the numbers for women and people of color are very low, whether you're looking at authorship or direction.  (And the numbers get even worse if you take Yasmina Reza out of the equation--she accounted for many of the plays written by women.)



Does it makes sense to completely break Boston out of the regional demographics?  I'm not exactly sure.  Since Boston is, in fact, part of New England, let's take a look at the combined numbers:

69 world premieres in New England, including Boston, this past season from 82 theaters
50 by local writers  (72%)
31 world premieres written by women  (45%)
11 world premieres written by people of color  (16%)

Overall: 334 plays produced.
97 written by women  (29%)
21  written by people of color  (6%)
113 directed by women   (34%)
21 directed by people of color (6%)
(I'm still waiting for some director info, so these aren't final numbers)


Again, not particularly encouraging. You can see the effects of the white male dominated "pipeline" that supplies material to the regional and smaller theatres, when theaters are choosing their seasons.

Though solving these numbers problems seems daunting, consider this: if each of the 82 theaters in New England produced just one more play by a woman in the next season, we would be at gender parity.  That's right, just one.  We're not talking an earthquake of change.  Just one play, per season. (For clarity: I'm talking about replacing a play by a man by a play by a woman, assuming that the number of plays/season/theater is somewhat fixed.)

And as for racial imbalance, if even half of the companies produced just one play more by a person of color next season, we would jump from 6% to 18%.  So, again, if each theatre in New England committed to producing one more play by a person of color, just every other season, the landscape would shift in a major way.

My hope is that these numbers will continue to spur conversations about what we want our theater to look like, whose voices we want to hear, and how to enact the changes we might want.  With a continued consciousness that the demographics of theater are a result of actual choices, by actual people. Those people choosing plays can elect to make different choices.

(Speaking of discussion, Ilana Brownstein has an excellent post rounding up the discussion on and around The Summit that took place in DC a few weeks ago.  Read it here.)

As I've said with previous posts, I'm sure I've missed some theaters, or might have miscounted people, and if I have, please just let me know and I'll update the info as quickly as I can.

6 comments:

Charlotte Meehan said...

It's great that you're doing this, Patrick! I so appreciate viewing the landscape this way. Charlotte Meehan

Charlotte Meehan said...

It's great that you're doing this, Patrick! I so appreciate viewing the landscape this way. Charlotte Meehan

Ian Thal said...

Last night, I was talking to director Guy Ben-Aharon after a reading at the Swiss Consulate, and he expressed some pride that for both the past season and this one, approximately 75% of the plays he has presented in the series that he curates, Israeli Stage, German Stage, and Swiss Stage were written by women.

Perhaps you could check in with him for his numbers?

Patrick Gabridge said...

Thanks, Charlotte!

And Ian, thanks for pointing them out. I'll see about updating the list.

Melissa Nussbaum said...

Very useful info, thanks. You might add ESCENA LATINA TEATRO - the only Spanish language theater group in Boston. We just presented "La Nona", written by Argentinian Roberto Cossa, directed by Christina Rodriguez de Conte. You can check out fb page and web site.

Patrick Gabridge said...

Thanks, Melissa. I'll definitely work on updating the post. Is La Nona a world premiere? Can you please send me an e-mail (pat@gabridge.com) with some more information on your group and the production? Thanks!