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How to support female and trans artists this month -- and beyond
Theatre has long loved its divas. But when it comes to women performing other artistic roles -- playwright, director, designer -- the industry has an inequality problem. While there's certainly been some notable progress in recent years, theatre is still far from achieving gender parity. But many female and trans artists (and their male allies) are working hard to change that -- not just for Women's History Month, but forevermore. And as theatregoers you can help them! After all, audiences are the ones who buy the tickets.
Here are five ways to support the quest for gender parity in theatre while enjoying yourself.
Check Out a Women's Theatre Festival
There are actually two happening in March. The 19th annual EstroGenius is NYC's longest-running festival showcasing the work of women and gender nonconforming artists. Running at the Kraine Theater through March 25, it features short plays, dance performances, stand-up comedy, works in progress, burlesque, and even a cheekily titled Privilege Walk. At press time, discount tickets for many EstroGenius offerings were available.
WP Theater's Pipeline Festival runs March 29 to April 29 at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre. Catch five new plays developed by five teams in the company's two-year residency program. All involved artists are female or trans, and they're real up-and-comers: playwright Leah Nanako Winkler had a show at Ensemble Studio Theatre, dramatist MK Kaufman had a play at Clubbed Thumb, and director Tyne Rafaeli helmed a rape culture drama at Playwrights Realm.
Put These Women's Theatre Companies On Your Radar
WP Theater (formerly known as Women's Project Theater) is the oldest company in the nation dedicated to developing, producing, and promoting the work of female-identified and trans theatre artists. But it's not alone. There are many companies in New York City devoted to women and trans artists, including the cutting-edge collective WOW Café Theatre, New Georges, The Hearth, Honest Accomplice Theatre, and the all-female Shakespeare troupe The Queen's Company. When you're looking for female- or trans-driven show, check out what these companies are doing. Or you can also…
See What Parity Productions Recommends
Both a theatre producer and promoter, Parity Productions spotlights NYC shows that fill at least 50% of their creative roles (directors, writers, and designers) with women and/or trans artists. In addition to mounting its own productions that adhere to this standard, the organization keeps a list of currently running shows that qualify. TDF Stages has written about a lot of them, including queens, Puffs, Athena, Cruel Intentions, Party Face, Then She Fell, Valor, agravio y mujer, and Waitress -- the only Broadway show that qualifies!
Attend the Women's Day on Broadway Symposium
On Monday, March 12 at the St. James Theatre, Disney and the Actors Fund are hosting the inaugural Women's Day on Broadway featuring a host of female industry pros discussing their successes, setbacks, challenges, and what the future looks like. There are some awfully famous folks scheduled to speak on a variety of panels, including Tina Fey, Whoopi Goldberg, Chita Rivera, Anna Deavere Smith, Diane Paulus, Daryl Roth, and Jeanine Tesori. Since entry is FREE on a first-come, first-seated basis, we suggest arriving very early!
Go to the Theatre Women Awards
On Friday, March 16 at TheTimesCenter, the League of Professional Theatre Women will present its annual Theatre Women Awards, the only ceremony dedicated to honoring the theatrical work of women across all disciplines. This year's awardees including Tony-winning actress Phylicia Rashad, former Newsday theatre critic Linda Winer, and up-and-coming director Adrienne Campbell-Holt. This is just one of the organization's many public events that bring together female theatre artists and their fans. Our favorite is the annual Women Stage the World Parade every June, when organization members take to the streets to deliver their message of gender parity in theatre. It's proof that Women's History Month is really a year-round movement.
Raven Snook is the Editor of TDF Stages. Follow her at @RavenSnook. Follow TDF at @TDFNYC.
Top image: Women Stage the World Parade. Photo by Erik McGregor, courtesy of the League of Professional Theatre Women.