Jobs for the girls? Logging the stats

23 February, 2011 by 2 Comments


When subsidised theatre companies announce their seasons for the year, one of the hottest topics around relates to an industrial issue – employment opportunities. Whilst there is also great interest in what shows will be produced, it’s the jobs and casting that draw the attention of a city’s artists and creatives. As to the issue of gender equity in role opportunities – 2011 is not a good year for female actors in Brisbane.

The 2011 mainstage season plays for both Brisbane subsidised companies have more male roles – considerably more – than female. Whilst employment in a mainstage production is not the whole picture for a professional theatre actor – there are other job opportunities in the sector from play readings, teaching, touring in educational programs and from non-award waged engagement in various independent projects in the city – there is no doubt that a contract for a show produced by QTC or La Boite is highly prized. Gender-blind casting notwithstanding, it became clear early on that there were going to be far more jobs for the boys this year at QTC and La Boite.

Of course, actors are not the only theatre workers who are disadvantaged in the equity stakes. Female writers and directors have, increasingly, expressed their frustration at the lack of employment opportunities in the programmed seasons of various companies throughout the country. You’ve probably ready the commentary in blogs and in the arts sections of the Australian media over the past couple of years.

The issue of gender equity continues to vex and challenge the theatre industry. Where actors are concerned the matter is exacerbated because of the general dearth of roles for women in the plays being programmed by artistic directors. Another post on Greenroom Memories of 2010 – and a few hopes for a new theatre year (see below) mulled this one and suggested an intervention strategy to assist.

A little while back, and in order to get an overview of the directors and writers by gender and of play origin and production type (self-produced; presenting parternships; co-pros), Greenroom analysed the 2011 theatre season from both of Brisbane’s subsidised companies. Information was obtained from season brochures or from the websites of both Queensland Theatre Company and La Boite Theatre. We did not include details from the regionals: JUTE (Cairns), or Empire Theatre Projects Company (Toowoomba) since their 2011 Season details were not yet complete. Nor have we accessed similar information on productions originating from the Gold Coast Arts Centre. If you missed these earlier Greenroom posts, see Related Articles (below).

Greenroom has begun a spreadsheet database tracking the casting by gender for Season 2011 mainstages for QTC and La Boite Theatre. Details will be added as individual shows open. This should give a fuller and more accurate picture of local theatre employment in Brisbane. Hopefully, by year’s end, we will be able to put a peg in the ground to track trends from then on. There will be a quarterly report to keep you up to date.

With QTC’s Sacré Bleu and La Boite’s Julius Caesar open and running, here is the first mini report based on cast by gender for the first two home-grown productions of the year. La Boite’s first show for 2011, The Gruffalo’s Child, has not been included as it did not employ local actors.

Greenroom is also collecting data on the gender breakdown by creative position for the big two companies in town.

Hope you will find the facts and figures useful when you come to argue for a locally more equitable arts industry.