Tuesday, June 30, 2009


An interesting part of Emily Glassberg Sands' analysis of gender bias in theatre focused on four plays she submitted to 250 theatres across the country. Each play had two pen names attached, one a male and one a female. Both women and men read and rated the scripts in terms of quality and economic prospects. Emily found that men rated plays the same regardless of gender, while women rated the plays by women lower when the script bore a female pen-name. However, the quality of a play was divided into different sections. While women rated plays by women lower re the chances of it winning a prize, having likable characters and whether the play would fit into their theatre season, women did not report personally believing that a script with a female pen-name was of lower quality.
The playwright responsible for inspiring Emily’s analysis, Julia Jordon, sent me an email last night regarding these stats. Here is part of what she wrote: “…women are predicting their audiences and the critics to be discriminatory, probably more discriminatory than they actually are, and are therefore not putting forward or producing the plays by women. All in an effort to protect their own and their theater's success and financial well being. They need to learn that the audiences in fact discriminate IN FAVOR of work with female protagonists and appear to not care at all the gender of the person who wrote the play.”
This is true. Emily Sands found that plays with a female protagonist were preferred by audiences and that they didn’t care who wrote the play. She also found that on Broadway plays written by women were significantly more profitable than plays by men.
Plays by women have a higher audience appeal!

Are you reading this producers? Are you listening female playwrights? A producer is waiting for a script penned by a woman to drop onto their desk so get up and run to the post office. CALL TO WOMEN PLAYWRIGHTS - send your scripts out NOW!

-Aphra Behn
© 2009