Supporting creative work by women
Works by Women is excited to start a new program — interviewing movers and shakers in the world of theater, particularly those engaged in promoting work by women. This is our first in an ongoing series.
The Women’s Initiative, a group of dramatists active in the Dramatists Guild of America, will present “Women in Theater: Achieving Gender Parity,” a symposium discussing how plays are selected for production and revealing some of the ways successful playwrights have created opportunities for themselves. Julia Jordan, a Jonathan Larson and Kleban award-winning playwright, is the keynote speaker. Panel moderators are Julie Crosby, producing artistic director of Women’s Project, and Tina Howe, Obie and Outer Circle Critics Award winner and Tony nominee.
The Symposium will take place on December 4, 2010 at The Players Club, 16 Gramercy Park South (at 20th Street), New York, NY from 1:00pm to 5:00pm.
If you are in New York this weekend, please check out the Symposium. In the meantime, I caught up with Cindy Cooper, playwright, Dramatists Guild member and one of the founders of the Women’s Initiative, and asked her to answer a few questions about the Women’s Initiatives goals and the future for women in theater.
1) You’re involved with the Women’s Initiative of the Dramatists Guild of America. Tell me how the Women’s Initiative was formed?
The Women’s Initiative grew out of a December 2009 meeting called by the Dramatists Guild for people interested in issues related to women, a topic that was being discussed in the wider theater community and in The Dramatists Magazine. Coordinated by a small group of volunteers (Catherine Gropper, Andy Landis, Barbara Masry, me and facilitator/playwright Janice Maffei) the meeting focused on brainstorming and action steps, and was wildly successful. The conveners and participants continued to meet, forming several “action teams.” The name “Women’s Initiative” emerged organically, reflecting, and revising, the name of the “Women’s Committee” at the Dramatists Guild which Gretchen Cryer led in the 1980s. The Women’s Initiative is definitely a work-in-progress.
2) What are the Initiative’s goals?
The Women’s Initiative of the Dramatists Guild identifies and addresses the challenges facing American women dramatists, and develops action steps to advance and sustain fairness, equality and gender parity for all dramatists.
3) How do 50/50 in 2020 and the Women’s Initiative work together/overlap/collaborate?
We are allies in reaching a common goal, that is, to securing and sustaining gender equality in the theater. The Women’s Initiative is specifically focused on the concerns of one segment of the artistic community — women playwrights, lyricists and composers, and in encouraging the leadership on gender parity of our national association, The Dramatists Guild of America. 50/50 in 2020 reaches out to all disciplines in theater – directors, designers, academics. In this effort, we both work alongside others — the League of Professional Theatre Women, LA Playwrights, Guerilla Girls On Tour, the Coalition of Professional Women in the Arts and Media, the diversity committees of Actors Equity, SAG, and ad hoc groups across the country.
4) As a female playwright, what do you think the biggest challenge facing female playwrights is at the moment?
Wow. Life? The biggest challenge – fitting it all in. The competing pressures are daunting — finding space for our creative work, doing the other things that keep us going, and spending pressured moments to activate for slow-shifting cultural change in the theater and in the world.
5) What gives you hope for women working in American theater?
Hope comes in three packages: I am riveted by the adventure of writing and working in the theater; I am moved by the richness of women’s works and ideas, and I am encouraged by the passion of colleagues concerned about making a more equitable theater world.
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