“Fairview” at Soho Rep in 2018 (Photo by: Julieta Cervantes)

LPTW’s New Count: Gender Parity Up Slightly Off-Broadway

The latest numbers show playwrights and directors edging close to parity, while most designers apart from costumers lag behind.

NEW YORK CITY: The League of Professional Theatre Women has released its report “Women Count: Women Hired Off-Broadway.” The report details the employment of women in 13 professional roles, including playwrights, directors, and stage managers, in 515 Off- and Off-Off-Broadway productions from five complete seasons, 2013-14 through 2017-18.

The findings from the most recent Off-Broadway seasons show women dominating in several areas, such as costume design and stage management. It also reveals some roles in which gender parity is being approached, and many others in which parity is far from the norm.

Highlighted findings from the report include:

  • Female playwrights being produced Off Broadway range from season lows of 28 percent in 2013-14 to a season high of 41 percent in 2017-18.
  • Female director credits by season range from a low of 37 percent in 2013-14 to a high of 47 percent in 2017-18.
  • Set designer credits are generally less than one third women, ranging from a season low of 20 percent in 2015-16 to a season high of 32 percent in 2016-17.
  • Lighting designers are overwhelmingly men among recent productions, with a season low of 11 percent credits for women in 2014-15 to a season high of 23 percent credits for women in 2017-18.
  • Costume designers are primarily women, with a low of 70 percent in 2016-17, and a high of 74 percent women in 2013-14.
  • Sound designer credits are one-fifth women across the seasons, with wide variation among producing companies. Season range from 13 percent women in 2016-17 to a season high of 21 percent women in 2017-18.
  • Production stage managers, stage managers, and assistant stage managers are 70 percent women, more or less, in each study year, reflecting national trends.
  • Ten companies produced 50 percent or more women playwrights in their 2017-18 Off- Broadway seasons: Ensemble Studio Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, New York Theatre Workshop, Playwrights Horizons, Primary Stages, Rattlestick, Roundabout, Signature, Soho Rep, and WP Theater.
  • Three companies produced no female playwrights in their 2017-18 Off Broadway seasons: Classic Stage Company, Keen, and New Group.
  • Thirteen female playwrights had 3 or more productions during the last 5 seasons: Anna Ziegler, Anne Washburn, Cori Thomas, Halley Feiffer, Laura Eason, Lindsey Ferrentino, Lucy Thurber, Martyna Majok, Naomi Wallace, Penelope Skinner, Quiara Alegria Hudes, Sarah Ruhl, and Suzan-Lori Parks.
  • Thirteen companies had 50 percent or more female directors in their 2017-18 season: Atlantic Theatre Company, EST, Flea, Lincoln Center Theater, MCC, MTC, NYTW, Primary Stages, Rattlestick, Second Stage, Signature, Soho Rep, and WP Theater.
  • Four companies had no female directors in the 2017-18 study season: CSC, Keen, Mint, and New Group.
  • Eleven female directors had 5 or more directing credits during the last five seasons: Anne Kauffman, Charlotte Moore, Daniella Topol, Jo Bonney, Kate Whoriskey, Leigh Silverman, Liesl Tommy, Lila Neugebauer, Lileana Blain-Cruz, Rebecca Taichman, and Sara Benson.

The report is the fourth in a series authored by Martha Wade Steketee with Judy Binus, on the status of women employed in New York City theatres. Since 2014, the Women Count report has collected and published analyses of production credits to assess gender parity in theatre hiring decisions. Its goal is to stimulate action plans to support advocacy efforts for women playwrights, performers, and off-stage theatre workers.

Founded in 1981, the League of Professional Theatre Women spearheads public programming and advocacy initiatives to increase visibility and opportunities for women in theatre.