Grassroots Movement ’50/50 in 2020′ Marches Forward

by Tara Bracco

in Events

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A group of women theatre artists gathered last week at the Julia Miles Theater, home of the Women’s Project, to hear an update on 50/50 in 2020. Launched last year, 50/50 in 2020 is a grassroots movement dedicated to achieving parity for women in theatre.  August Schulenburg’s previous blog post offers a good summary of this issue.

50/50 in 2020 seeks to “empower women and men to create positive change through a variety of independent initiatives.” The group has made several achievements over the last twelve months in regard to raising the visibility of women artists, recognizing them for their work, and building an audience to see plays by women. Here’s what 50/50 members have been up to:

  • Playwright Andrea Lepcio announced that a profile project has been launched on nytheatre.com. The website has already published 19 profiles of women playwrights including Chantal Bilodeau, Rinne Groff, Tina Howe, Young Jean Lee, Theresa Rebeck, and Kate Moira Ryan.  The project hopes to expand to include profiles of women directors and designers.
  • Director and dramaturg Ludovica Villar-Hauser organized a “Works by Women” meetup group, which gathers six times a month to attend plays written, directed or designed by women. While Villar-Hauser negotiates discounted rates for the group, she is quick to point out, the group “is not about discounts but about getting people to think about work by women.” This meetup takes place in New York City, but if you’re not local, consider starting a meetup in your community.
  • On May 24, 2010, the first annual Lilly Awards took place at Playwrights Horizons. Named after Lillian Hellman, this awards ceremony was created to celebrate the work of women in American theatre. A list of winners can be found in this TheaterMania article.

The November 2009 issue of American Theatre magazine featured an article titled Not There Yet by Marsha Norman about the lack of equality for women in theatre. “What we have to do,” Norman wrote, “is commit to change before it is too late.”

The new initiatives announced at the 50/50 in 2020 meeting are certainly steps in the right direction. Susan Jonas, co-founder of 50/50 and co-author of the 2002 NYSCA report on the status of women in theatre, expressed the enthusiasm of the group when she said, “I’m unbelievably happy about what’s happened in the last year.”

What activities are happening in your community? Or what efforts would you like to see to advance women in theatre? Share your thoughts with us and if you want to join the movement, visit the 50/50 in 2020 Facebook page.

-Tara

Tara Bracco is TCG’s Institutional Giving Officer. Her op-eds and articles on women’s issues, the arts, and economics have appeared in local and national publications. She is the founder of Poetic People Power, a spoken word group dedicated to combining art and activism.

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  • Susan Jonas

    Just to be clear, The (fabulous) Lillys Awards event was not created as a “50/50 in 2020″ initivtive, though many members participated. The Lillys were created by Marsha Norman, Theresa Rebeck and Julia Jordan, with support from Tim Sanford and Playwrights Horizons, as well as Julie Crosby and Women's Project, Gary Garrison and the Dramatists Guild and many others. We hope it will be an annual event. Every event or initiative that bring visibility to and opportunities for women in theatre is a step towards our shared goal– parity for women in theatre and all professions, and making sure women are seen and heard. “50/50 in 2020″ was an attempt to set a deadline. It's been “soon” for long enough. Thanks to TCG and Tara for supporting advocacy. We'll have more news soon! Meanwhile please do lend your support by visiting the Facebook page and by joining the Works by Women MeetUp. Susan Jonas

  • Kristen van Ginhoven

    WAM Theatre (Women’s Action Movement) in the Berkshires of MA and the Capital Region of NY was co-founded in late 2009 and focuses on creating opportunity and positive change. We were inspired by ‘Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide’ by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn and by articles like Marsha Norman’s in American Theatre and speeches like Theresa Rebeck’s Laura Pels Keynote Address at the Women & Hollywood event in March 2010. We had a successful event in April 2010 and are now working towards a November 2010 production of Sarah Ruhl’s ‘Melancholy Play’. We are proud to be part of the grassroots movement dedicated to achieving parity for women in theatre and in the world. http://www.wamtheatre.com

  • Coni Ciongoli-Koepfinger

    “Determined Women”, a new concept for a comprehensive study of women’s roles
    in society as seen through the eyes of playwrights from 1920 to 2020, was
    recently launched by ICWP literary manager, Coni Ciongoli-Koepfinger. The
    project celebrating “50/50 in 2020″, hosted by Melody Brooks of New
    Perspectives Theatre, will visit playwrights and discuss the work of playwrights, past and present, with scholars at universities from around the world. The concept is to see what female dramatists have is
    contributed to “herstory” in the last century. The study will then be
    compiled into an Internet Theatre Herstory course available to all. Anyone
    interested in participating please feel free to contact Coni
    Ciongoli-Koepfinger at ck3@andrew.cmu.edu

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