From DEE JAE COX, CO-FOUNDER/PRESIDENT/ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, LOS ANGELES WOMEN’S THEATRE PROJECT
“I’m sure you know the statistics, only 20 percent of plays that do get produced are written by women, so when it comes to getting produced, women playwrights are at an even more extreme disadvantage than their male counterparts. We founded our organization in 2007, and, in the years since, I have worked with many playwrights and the main piece of advice that I give them all the time is that it is not enough to write our plays and send them out into the world hoping someone will produce them. Women must be activists with our work. We have to participate in their productions and their promotions. If someone is producing your play, you have to support that production in whatever way that you can. If you’re not getting produced, produce it yourself!
“More women have to take control of their work. If we wait for someone else to approve and do it for us, we may be waiting a very long time. And we have to step outside of our comfort zones and advocate for women in theater. As long as we accept that only 20 percent of the works being produced are going to be written by women, nothing will change. I am actually in the process of creating an Ad-Hoc Committee here in LA in order to further delve into the barriers that are preventing women from getting produced.
“I followed my own advice; that’s how I kicked off my organization. I had just finished a new play that I believed was ready for production. I’d had multiple readings, rewrites, etc., but it was at the point that I felt it needed to go up. I had been doing the rounds and sending it out, had a potential production interest but could not get it pinned down. And so finally I just said to myself, ‘I can’t keep waiting around for someone else to do this for me.’ I began looking for an organization that could serve as a fiscal sponsor in order to help me raise money and I couldn’t find one that did that kind of thing for playwrights, so I took the plunge and founded my own nonprofit. The first production that we did was my play. Of course, once you found an organization and begin to produce other women’s work, you find that your own time for writing becomes very limited, so that was the first and last piece of mine that the LAWTP produced!
“After that, we began to produce New Works festivals and those have been very successful. From that event, we selected works that would go on to the next level. We have produced a full run of a couple of shows that came out of our New Works festival, a full length play and a one-woman show. We also selected four plays from another one of our New Works festivals to present in a staged reading format in have our ‘Ready For Our Close-Up’ Showcase. We worked closely with the four playwrights, finding directors, casting, providing a venue, and then inviting other theaters and producers to see their work in an effort to get it produced by other theaters. I cannot tell you that there is a secret or a magic that makes it work, only that we, as playwrights, have to be active participants in getting our work on to the stage.”
MY NUTSHELL TAKEAWAY: This post is particular apt right now because nominations are open for the International Center for Women Playwrights’ 50/50 Applause Awards, which honor theaters whose season’s included 50 percent or more work by women. To nominate a theater, go here. Once you nominate one, Tweet and post about it in social media and, if you don’t know a theater in your area that’s eligible, Tweet or post about that sad fact. Any and all awareness helps.
In addition, today’s HowlRound post was entitled “Where Are the Women?” Give that a read, and, if you can, join the march. If you can’t march, implement as many of its suggestions as possible. Today isn’t about getting productions, per se, but celebrating women’s triumphs—loudly.
Until next time,