It’s that time of year when the nation gets ready for those festive days of overindulgence. Aside from the obvious and catching up on TV series that I simply haven’t had the time to watch, I’m also set to indulge with a read of Aurora Metro’s new anthology: Plays for Today by Women, selected and introduced by Cheryl Robson and Rebecca Gillieron (2013).
The editors’ introduction I’ve already read to get a taste of things to come. Actually, it leaves rather a bitter taste as Robson and Gillieron remind their readers of some depressing statistics: ‘over 80% of all plays produced in the UK are written by men’, while 2009 statistics record a mere 17% of plays by women to be presented. Despite ‘glimmers of hope’, such as the efforts of women directors in regional theatres to commission women playwrights, the editors argue that much needs to be done to gender-equalise full-play productions, or to redress the gender imbalance between authorship and theatre-goers, where, in contrast to the 17% of plays by women, women make up 65% of theatre audiences. Nothing less than a ‘national strategy for challenging the bias within the theatre industry’ is what is urgently needed, the editors argue. Assisting in its own way with this imbalance is their collection of six new plays dealing with a range of subjects: child abuse (Amanda Stuart-Fisher From the Mouths of Mothers); cross-generational stories of women, families & hard times (Karin Young The Awkward Squad); teen girls wrestling with British-Pakistani identities (Emteaz Hussain’s Sweet Cider); and female friendship (Rachel Barnett For a Button). Joining these are two further plays which promise something of an international landscape: Sonja Linden and Adah Kay’s Welcome to Ramallah dealing with the Arab/Israeli situation and Gillian Plowman’s Yours Abundantly, from Zimbabwe.
If you’re looking for new plays by women to perform or read in 2014, this is a very good place to start. And if any of our readers caught the original productions of these plays and have views to share (or views on the general situation regarding contemporary women’s playwriting) do post a comment.
Otherwise wishing you all the Christmas best,