In September 2009, I met with Jennie Webb and we decided to reach out to others to get data from L.A. about women playwrights, and to organize on behalf of women playwrights and female theater artists. We were very inspired by the push in New York in 2008/2009, and we kept waiting to hear Los Angeles numbers. We, as did many other L.A. women playwrights, soon realized that someone needed to organize to get some Southern California stats. In November 2009, Jennie and I approached theater artist Ella Martin, who is an actor/director/writer/scholar, and asked if she would help us with the L.A. data. Luckily for us, she agreed. We owe Ella Martin, our Study Director, a huge debt!
LA FPI had our first official meeting on March 6, 2010, at Theatricum Botanicum, in the middle of a very stormy L.A. downpour. But wonderful people made it out to Topanga Canyon that day, and the movement took off from there.
Ellen Geer made the first donation to the cause. Many talented playwrights, women and men, at that meeting donated enough money to get Survey Monkey going, so that Ella Martin could run a local survey of women playwrights. We began to have quarterly meetings to report our progress and solidify Calls to Action. We received key support from the Los Angeles STAGE Alliance and Larry Dean Harris of the Dramatists Guild.
Ella Martin compiled and coordinated all the results in early 2011. Her final report is phenomenal. Thank you to Ella Martin, the theaters who participated in the survey, the women playwrights who volunteered their data, and to all the folks who have supported LA FPI.
In the past year, many other people have joined up; we have an e-list of 150+. Volunteers are working on other LA FPI projects now, such as direct outreach to theaters, meetups to see shows by women, our terrific blog which features fantastic L.A. women playwrights each week (so inspiring!); even more L.A. gender parity data which is still forthcoming, and other positive calls to action. We, the collective of LA FPI, offer everything for free to anyone who's interested. Much of this is coordinated through the website and the terrific Jennie Webb. We celebrated the one year anniversary of our initiative by releasing the study results.
More Research Needed
Statistics on this issue need to be gathered from everywhere. Playwrights wrote to us from other major cities in California, asking us to please include their cities in our data, too (such as San Diego, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco). But we had to focus on Los Angeles County and Orange County. It would be wonderful if someone could get funding to 'count' in other places, too, in cities across the world. In New York, after percentages and counts were released related to gender parity and playwriting, there were more productions for women playwrights in the next theater seasons. Consciousness-raising works. We hope the same change will be true in Los Angeles. It is a very difficult time for all theater artists, and we want to support theater-makers. We love theater. We want to participate.
here is the link to the study report: