Supporting creative work by women
Works by Women (the blog) is proud to interview Ludovica Villar-Hauser, Works by Women’s founder and one of the most passionate people you will ever meet. And that’s saying a lot for a field like theatre, which is filled with passionate people. Ludovica is simply one of a kind, a force of nature, who makes good things happen. Her illustrious career includes directing Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night on the West End at the tender age of 23, serving as the Artistic Director of The Greenwich Street Theatre for 17 years and spearheading the inaugural Gilder-Coigney International Theatre Award for the League of Professional Theatre Women‘s International Committee.
She took time out of her busy schedule, which includes directing Final Analysis at the Midtown International Theatre Festival, to speak with Works by Women about why she started the theatre-going group, what plans she has for Works by Women in the future and what attracted her to Final Analysis in the first place.
Works by Women: You founded Works by Women. What was your initial impulse in starting the group?
Ludovica Villar-Hauser: I went to a town hall type meeting of 50/50 in 2020 in August of 2009 and was shocked by the fact that less than 20% of paying work in the theatre goes to women. I specifically remember Julie Crosby, Managing Producing Director of the Women’s Project, saying that it was quite simple “start supporting works created by women theatre artists” … by the time I got home I had already formed the idea of Works by Women. Our mission is actually quite simple:
Works by Women supports productions written, directed and/or designed by women theatre artists — a small step towards the larger goal of achieving pay parity and equal opportunity, “50/50 in 2010.”
WBW: Why is supporting women’s theatrical work important?
Ludovica: Please don’t get me started on this question. I could go on for HOURS. Whatever I say in these few lines will seem trite – it will not do justice to the enormity of the question. Simply put, if we don’t support the work created by women theatre artists we are never going to achieve parity. We will perpetuate the message that somehow our voices are less important, less valuable. In many cases our contributions are invisible. The bigger picture is that it is extremely unhealthy having such a large percentage of the population having to fight to earn a living. It can’t be good for our evolution, holding back such a vital resource. We are more than 50% of the population; surely we deserve at least 50% of the paying work. I think the need for The Lilly Awards at this stage of the game (although wonderful awards) speaks volumes for exactly where we are.
WBW: What are you favorite part of the group and its accomplishments?
Ludovica: Works by Women has supported 87 productions since its inception in October 2009. It has also inspired this blog. There may be other Works by Women chapters opening up in San Francisco possibly London and Dublin. The BIG IDEA behind Works by Women is for every single major city worldwide to create such a group supporting the creative work of women writers, directors and designers – – – until we are no longer needed. Bring it on!!!
WBW: What plans do you have for the future of Works by Women?
Ludovica: I’d like to continue the TV series I started 18 months ago (before life got in the way). It’s yet another way of showing the world that we exist, that we are vital and we are good at what we do!
WBW: What excited you about Final Analysis as a director?
Ludovica: Final Analysis is set in Vienna at the turn of the last century – in 1910 to be exact – what a turning point in history. What amazing people all in Vienna at the same time: Stalin, Gustav and Alma Mahler, Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein. What ideas! The world was literally never going to be the same again. Simply fascinating.
WBW: What’s can an audience expect from the production?
Damn good acting. Our cast is amazing. Truly exceptional. I could go on but think it’s best you catch the work yourself and then tell me what you think! We perform until August 4th (with the possibility of a tiny extension in the horizon). Check out the show’s website for more information.
WBW: What are the challenges facing women in American theater?
Ludovica: How to juggle a career and the rest of our lives in a balanced way is probably the biggest challenge we face. To earn a living. To stay in the game. If you are able to do all of these things you are a HUGE success. We face a silent challenge – the fact that many young women simply don’t know or believe in the existence of the issue and that they might not understand it until it is almost too late – that makes me mad and overwhelmed all at the same time.
WBW: What gives you hope for women in American theater?
Ludovica: The women artists creating theatre! The wealth of talent – the smarts – the passion. Truly.
Ms. Villar-Hauser is on the Executive Board of The League of Professional Theatre Women as well as Chair of its International Committee. 14 months ago she set up Works by Women, ( meetup.com/worksbywomen) a group dedicated to seeing plays written, directed and/or designed by women theatre artists – an initiative towards 50/50 in 2020.