It’s a well known fact that women are very underrepresented in the theatre world, at both the playwright and director level. Even at the character level. As I move through this murky world trying to find a foothold, I’ve been thinking more and more about starting a women’s theatre group in Houston. Let me be clear about this – when I say women’s theatre group, I’m not referring to theatre that only talks about breast cancer and periods and how icky men are. I’m talking about theatre written by women. That would be the only common factor. Themes would run the gamut just like they do in “regular” theatre (in other words, plays written by white males). Contrary to popular belief, women actually do write more than weepy testimonials to the power of kitten kisses, sales on footwear and teenybopper giddiness of first loves. Yes, some women write about female stuff (Vagina Monologues comes to mind) but they also write about “regular” stuff too. Just like the menfolk. They write about the same shared experiences that many male writers do because, basically, we’re all living on the same hurtling lump of clay. Women writers might have some different viewpoints than their male counterparts, just like writers of different races or ages might have differing views. Just like one white male to the next might have differing views.
So, in the interest of research, I’ve been checking out the various women’s theatres/theatre groups around the country trying to get a handle on what they’re doing and how they’re making it happen. The most disturbing thing I’ve found: many of them are using their sexuality as a selling point. As THE selling point. It’s like they are saying the theatre they’re creating isn’t good enough on its own so they have to show their tits just to get people in the door. It’s pandering, and it’s bullshit. It’s unnecessary apologia. We know we’re not supposed to rally against the man’s theatre, so we’ll titillate you so you don’t get too mad. See? We’re just a bunch of pretty girls who aren’t threatening to you at all. Watch these tassels – I can make them spin in opposite directions.
I understand what they’re doing, and I’m sure they’d have plenty of justifications if I were to call them up and call them out. Tell me how they’re flying under the radar (who wants to fly under the radar? blow that bitch up) or how women don’t have to give up their sexuality to be successful (I’ve yet to see a non-female or non-gay theatre have to hang their asses out to stay open) or blah blah blah. What these groups are telling me, basically, is that “fringe” groups have to bend over, preferably naked, in order to succeed. Bullshit. It’s laziness. Write and produce good theatre. You’ll find your audience. And you’ll be able to keep your ass in your pants and your tits in your grrrlll power shirt.