March 2017 Newsletter 50/50 Applause Award

30 Mar 2017 2:13 AM | Mona Curtis (Administrator)

Help keep the ICWP 50/50 Applause Award alive!

We're launching a Generosity Campaign to fund the 2017 50/50 Applause Award.  We need your help.

Click Here to go to the Generosity Campaign

A Short History of the 50/50 Applause Award

From an ICWP listserv conversation thread back in 2007-2009, collective minds discussed the evidence-based worldwide discrimination against female playwrights, including the cultural consequences for society and the financial effects experienced by female playwrights. Emily Glassberg Sands released a study called “Opening the Curtain on Playwright Gender,” which showed that only 18% of the productions done in the United States in 2008 were female playwrights. Research statistics continued to dribble out over different news medias at that time.

What could we, the International Centre for Women Playwrights, with the mission to support women playwrights worldwide and bring attention to their work, do to increase the number of women-authored plays on professional stages? Suggestions ranged from blacklisting theatres that produced all-male or male-dominated seasons to publishing a list of theatres that practiced gender equity and applaud them. An idea was floated that we could give awards to those theatres!

ICWP expanded, from its first International Women Playwrights conference in 1988 in Buffalo, NY, where two hundred women playwrights from thirty countries around the world attended.

ICWP developed more internet based programs to service the community and in 2000 a separate sister organization, Women Playwrights International, continued to organize the inspirational triennial International Women Playwright Conferences in countries around the world.

However, over time, more issues were raised on the Listserv discussions and more research studies emerged from Canada, Australia, and the UK, illustrating the male bias in theatre. (Some of those research results can be read in the statement for the Generosity campaign.)

Why was the work of women playwrights underrepresented? Why was this issue so important? Because productions result in more professional and career development for playwrights: more commissions, more residencies, more travel, more publications, and more book sales, which results in more productions. It is an economic cycle from which many talented female playwrights are excluded.

So Elana Gartner,  co-chair Rebecca Osborne, and Deborah Magid, created the 50/50 Applause Award program. In the first year, 2011-2012, five theatres received the award, all within the United States. And as Dr. Jennifer Munday, president of the ICWP during those years, stated, “These companies need special thanks for the integrity of their decision making.”

In the following years, with Kris Bauske (50/50 Award video director) as co-chair, and Margaret McSeveney as Communication Manager, the bar was raised bringing the 50/50 through different levels. An Award Committee was formed and volunteers donated their precious time. Kris introduced a video component.

By 2016, the 50/50 program awarded 107 certificates to theatres in 10 countries on 5 continents!  According to the Playwrights Guild of Canada’s Annual Theatre Production Survey (2015), out of 812 productions in the 2013/14 season, 63% were written by men, 22% by women, and 15% by mixed gender partnerships. We are gaining slowly.

We have stretched the resources of the volunteer team who administer the Award and research, vet and organize the information for each theatre. We’ve had to invest in more IT such as the online database. The program has outgrown the capacity that a volunteer team can provide. This year we need monetary support to sustain the growth of the program.

What has happened as a result of the 50/50 Applause Award?

We raised the awareness throughout the theatre community, and caused theatre professionals to engage in dialog about gender disparity. We have partnered with multiple organizations to increase visibility for women playwrights in multiple countries. And, percentages of productions for women-authored plays have risen in most of the regions in the world.

As you read more about the program in the Generosity campaign page, on the right column, you can see where the money is spent, and what your dollars will support.

The campaign will run from March 3 to April 7th. Please share the Generosity link with your friends, family, and community.

And donate!

Thank you.


March Spotlights

These are some of the main players in the development of the 50/50 Award.  However MANY members contributed MANY hours of time and effort.  Time and space do not allow us to mention them all.

Margaret McSeveney is a Scottish writer of plays, poems and short stories. She has been a member of ICWP since 1997. She has supported ICWP, serving on theBoard of Trustees and at different times, as List moderator,  Webmaster, Secretary, Vice-President and President. Her involvement in the establishment of the 50/50 Applause Awards grew out of discussions on the ICWP Listserv around 2007 - 2009 when various research reports about the lack of gender equity in theatre were published in the USA, the UK and other countries around the world.

Kris Bauske holds a B.A. in English from the University of Michigan. Her first play, A Good Old Fashioned, Redneck Country Christmas, written in 2008, garnered national attention and is published by Samuel French. It has been adapted for the stage as a musical and is represented by Gary DaSilva, as are all her works. The musical is also published by Samuel French, Inc. A Good Old Fashioned Redneck Country Wedding, the long-awaited sequel to Redneck Christmas is also published by Samuel French. The screenplay for Redneck Christmas, written by Kris, is in development with Lenz Entertainment of Toronto. The expected release date of the full-length feature film is November 2018.

Kris is a full member of the Dramatist’s Guild of America, International Centre for Women Playwrights, Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, and the Theatre Communications Group. She was nominated for the 2011, 2013, & 2015 Francesca Primus award presented by ATCA for Outstanding Emerging Female Playwright. Kris was co-chair for the prestigious ICWP 2014, 2015, & 2016 50/50 Applause Awards. She continues to write, produce, and direct from her home near Orlando, FL where she mentors other writers and playwrights offering advice, editing, and a shoulder to cry on as needed.

Internationally produced and recognized playwright Elana Gartner has written Because of Beth (Howick Little Theatre; The Workshop Theater), Daughter (UpTheater Company; PlayLab Selection, 2013 Great Plains Theatre Conference), Pilar’s Brother (Repertorio Español), Cortex Kin (Upcoming: Dixon Place), Spinning (Fabrefaction Theater Company), and Ernie Evan (Genesis Repertory Theater; Heights Players, 6x10 Festival). Two monologues from Elana’s plays Daughter and Because of Beth were published in “Audition Monologues for Young Women #2: More Contemporary Auditions for Aspiring Actresses “(Meriwether Publishing, Ltd., 2013). Elana founded the EMG Playwriting Workshop which has fostered a supportive community for playwrights since 2004. She helped to edit a second edition of “You Can Write A Play!” by Milton E. Polsky. Elana co-founded the International Centre for Women Playwrights 50/50 Applause Awards and served on the ICWP board for five years. Elana is a graduate of Oberlin College with a degree in Creative Writing and a member of the Dramatists Guild.

The 50/50 Applause Award is a huge undertaking, but due to the extraordinary dedication of our membership, we have made a genuine impact in the theatre world.

Yours for innovative, engaging and equitable theater,

Mona Curtis
Newsletter Editor

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