"It's a big world in here" is the ringing phrase the Young Vic theatre in London has adopted as its motto. It's a nice play on Shakespeare, for, as he said, all the world's a stage (not for nothing did he call his own theatre the Globe). On stage, real people act out human desires and dilemmas in front of a live audience: at its best, theatre is the art form that best represents the world.
Except that it doesn't. Some months ago, the staging of two all-male Shakespeare productions at the Hampstead theatre in London uncorked an explosion of frustration from women actors, writers and directors. There was a sense of basic injustice – actor Janet Suzman talked of a "really frustrating" career where there "aren't bloody well enough parts for women"; deeper concerns were also expressed.
This failure to represent women, argued the actor, writer and director Stella Duffy, was deeply entwined with society's wider failure to put women's voices on an equal footing with men's. A sense of responsibility to the world was, she said, being ducked – particularly by our larger national stages. In an impassioned blogpost, she wrote: "When we do not see ourselves on stage we are reminded, yet again, that the people running our world (count the women in the front benches if you are at all unsure) do not notice when we are not there. That they think men (and yes, white, middle-class, middle-aged, able-bodied men at that) are all we need to see."( Read more...Collapse )
Favourite female playwrights?