Wendy Thomson - Editor's blog

Nicholas Hytner predicts gender equality among theatre-makers

In Nicola Merrifield's article in The Stage 5 Dec 2012 Nicholas Hytner artistic director of The National Theatre predicts gender equality among playwrights and directors in 20 years time.

Quote from The Stage article - Nicholas Hytner “One of the things I can predict with confidence is that – looking at the young playwrights and directors in their 20s and 30s – that by the time they get to be in their 40s and 50s the theatre will be, in terms of sex at least, reflective of the audience that it plays to. "

This is where I think his prediction fails. Firsty in terms of the audience, there are more female theatre goers than men, so it is wildly optimistic to think female playwrights and directors will outnumber men in 20 years time. Secondly, Nicholas may see 50:50 women to men playwrights and directors in their 20's and 30's but in their 30's this is when many career women pause to start a family. They do not (in my experience at least) return to work for the same number of hours or at the same level of seniority they left at - if they even return to the same employer or type of work. By the time women are in their 40s and 50s many have fallen behind their male colleagues if they started or are raising a family.

Quote from The Stage article: "Hytner’s comments came during the annual Directors Guild Peter Brook Lecture after he was questioned by an audience member about the trend of National Theatre artistic directors being white, male and largely educated at the University of Cambridge."

I don't think gender equality will be reached in 100 years, nevermind 20 years if more isn't done to help women retain the career they built up before they start a family, employers who can be flexible with their hours and not demote women, so that they can manage work with the demands of childrearing.

Full article from The Stage can be read here: http://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2012/12/nicholas-hytner-predicts-gender-e...

(c) Wendy Thomson 2013

Female Arts on 17percent

Sam Hall of 17percent kindly promoted Female Arts on her website - see link http://17percent.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/about-female-arts

Sam Hall is an inspirational person for Female Arts and what we want to achieve is in the same vein as 17percent - if you haven't checked out the 17percent website or facebook page please do - http://17percent.wordpress.com/ and http://www.facebook.com/17Percent

17Percent was set up by playwright Sam Hall in 2009. "While taking writing courses, including an MA in Creative Writing, she noticed... the majority of the plays studied on these courses were written by men; the majority of plays performed at UK theatres are written by men. So Sam began to ask herself ‘why weren’t all those women who set out studying playwriting going on to have work performed and published?’ The answer is incredibly complex and spans borders. " Quote from 17percent About page.

We're interviewing Sam Hall soon so watch this space!

Reviewers needed

Female Arts are looking for literate compassionate reviewers to review theatre and performing arts. There are several exciting productions coming up in London that I would love us to cover. We're also looking for reviewers in Birmingham, Bath, Oxford, Manchester and Edinburgh. If you're based elsewhere and would like to contribute please feel free to get in contact. This role is open to men and women!

If you're interested please drop me an email at editor@femalearts.com

Look forward to hearing from you.

Update 15.01.13 - We have enough reviewers now, thank you. If you do get in contact I will keep your details in mind for this summer. Many thanks.

An open letter to Ideastap - Opportunities and ‘positive’ discrimination

Dear Ideastap

What angers and frustrates me as a writer who wants to contribute and be productive in a consumptive world is having barriers put up to me that I can never break down.

I’m talking about opportunities that are only open to those of a certain age (Ideastap) or from a certain background (location specific).

As editor of Female Arts it sometimes worries me that I don’t promote men as much as women, that I may be excluding men and therefore am I just as guilty of having a set agenda which discriminates? I remind myself This is Not the Case!

Men are welcome at Female Arts – as I’ve always stated in our FAQ's – particularly if they are involved in work that promotes equality, I want to hear about it – e.g. see our interview with Second Skin theatre director Andy McQuade. http://www.femalearts.com/node/155
We have a prolific male writer in our review team, the website was built by a man, I know a lot of men who are supportive of Female Arts.

Any man has the potential to be involved with Female Arts, it’s not exclusive to women. What pisses me off is when opportunities are barred to me based on factors I can do nothing about, such as my age and background, so I will always be ineligible to apply e.g. Ideastap briefs or eg. a drama prize only open to those living in or born in Ireland.

I can see why it is a good reason to prioritise these voices but I think it is a shortcoming to permanently exclude others who can do nothing to change their age or where they were born.

Last year, when I was a mature student at CSSD I was ineligible to join my classmates in applying for Ideastap opportunities or in 2010 obtaining a free theatre ticket under the Night Less Ordinary scheme – the criteria for entry is only age, not ability or potential!

Even Network Rail for all their shortcomings recognised me as eligible for a Young Persons Railcard (16-25 year olds) when I was in my thirties because I was a mature student. Why not Ideastap? Why not A Night Less Ordinary? http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/funding/funded-projects/case-studies/a-nig...

Exclusivity leads to division and that is what I want to avoid with Female Arts – it’s not about women vs men it’s about women reaching equality with men. Men who are supportive of gender equality (male feminists) are welcome here.

Here is my Ideastap profile. http://www.ideastap.com/people/7b90929e-e33e-4a7f-baea-9ef6012f58ef
All my Master’s degree classmates joined, were networking and I wanted to be part of it! I lied and set my age to 30 to ‘fit in’. I shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed of my age. I shouldn’t have barriers to entry. Positive discrimination enforces an artificial divide between the young and the old when we should be free, even encouraged, to collaborate.

Wendy Thomson (age 35).

p.s. I was shocked and pleased to see that your current brief for ‘The Columnist’ is open to those ‘aged 16 and over’ with no upper age limit. What happened to bring on this change of heart?

Writers' News

Yesterday an artist asked me what I did, was I an artist too? Without thinking I said I'm a writer.

This may be the first time I've described myself as such - and I suppose after dedicating myself to writing for the past two years (after ten years in finance) I'm more inclined to think of myself as a writer than an accountant (although I still intend to make my living from that).

Unfortunately I self sabotaged my 'profession' in a moment of self doubt by blurting I haven't written much - only one stage play, some short pieces. I wish I didn't undermine myself. I wish I was more confident. I wish I felt prouder about what I have achieved rather than worrying about what I haven't done yet. This is where Female Arts comes in - a way for women (including myself) to promote our achievements, increase awareness and be proud of what we Have done, Are doing and Will do!

On the topic of writing I've found time to read back copies of Writers' News kindly donated by Mike Facherty (thanks Mike!). Even though my issues are from 2007 many of the writers featured, websites, and information about prizes and competitions are still relevant. I've learnt a lot from them so am happy to recommend their website https://www.writers-online.co.uk

Stop ogling tits on page 3

Amelia Gentleman's Dec 2012 article in The New York Times sums up many womens frustration at The Sun's page 3. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/19/world/europe/19iht-letter19.html?_r=1&

My thoughts are - either bring back the page 7 fella (equality!) or stop publishing it in a newspaper.

Lucy Anne Holmes is the No More Page 3 campaigner - read her point of view here: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/exclusive-weve-seen-enough-b...

Lucy's campaign started in September 2012 and seems to have slowed down after collecting over 60,000 signatures in an online petition, which you can sign here: https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/dominic-mohan-take-the-bare-boobs...
A thought on the petition photograph - why have they chosen a slim attractive girl to wear the No More Page 3 T-shirt on top of nothing? Showing bare legs (they look bare). Most women wear an item of clothing on their lower half, so it seems counterproductive to promote an anti-nudity petition showing a model with bare thighs.
The No More Page 3 Wordpress site which has not been updated since November 2012 can be found here: http://nomorepage3.wordpress.com/

I think if you're serious about this campaign, don't give up after a few months...dedicate your life to it. Why have you stopped updating your website? Why are the signatures slowing down?...has The Sun won? (www.page3.com - the mind boggles how much money they are making from tits).

...anyway I signed the petition.

(Page 7 fella photo from 1985)

(c) Wendy Thomson 2013

2012 Highlights

It's the last day of 2012! Here are my personal highlights:

2012 Highlights

Graduated with a MA in Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (CSSD), University of London. The Master’s degree took two years during which time I gave birth to my wonderful son Dillon and created the Female Arts website.

Celebrated Dillon’s first birthday at Beale Park.

Wrote my first full length stage play called The Three Sisters (not the same as Checkov’s)! I will redraft it in 2013 before trying to get it produced.

Went to the summer Olympics - amazeballs! Saw semi-final football at Wembley and final pentathlon at Greenwich with Britain getting Silver...took my son to both, will remember forever.

My short film Spell was made featuring actors from CSSD MA Acting for screen
Created a facebook page for Spell http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spell-short-film/274076066045757?ref=hl– it can be viewed on youtube http://youtu.be/wIft5Nm53rU

My short play Anna was developed by The Factory and was performed by actors from CSSD MA Contemporary Acting.

Recorded episodes of a comedy sketch show The Village Peephole with my writing and comedy company The Reading Berks http://www.thereadingberks.co.uk/…currently being edited for podcast and radio broadcast in 2013.

Updated my writers website www.wendythomson.co.uk

Improved my IT skills - built a wordpress site and learnt more about drupal.

Created a facebook page for my mother’s late partner Patrick Fitzmaurice as a platform for sharing his writing and poetry: http://www.facebook.com/patrickfitzmauricelopf?ref=hl

Became a student member of BAFTA and the Writers Guild

Attended performances of new writing including musical theatre.

Congratulations to all my friends / family who got married, engaged, had a baby or had their child christened in 2012!

Female Arts 2012 highlights

Increased readership, over 1300 registered users on the Female Arts website, 1100 followers on twitter and 150 likes on facebook.

75 new articles on the Female Arts website.

Interviewed Steven Moffat, Richard Curtis, Linda Landers and Clare Buckfield.

Our review team wrote great film, TV, theatre and book reviews - thank you to everyone who emailed a press release, or tweeted us, it was great to read about and / or meet you.

I hope you had a happy and productive 2012, and here's to an even better 2013!
Wendy X

Female Arts end of year Newsletter

The Female Arts newsletter Dec 2012 has been distributed. If you'd like to get a copy please sign up here: http://www.femalearts.com/newsletter

As the end of the year approaches it's time for us to reflect on 2012. Our editor (me) completed a Master's degree in Writing for the Stage and Broadcast Media at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Thank you to the Student Innovation department at Central for funding the creation of Female Arts in 2011!

We'd like to thank our team of reviewers for their contributions this year, including Teri Levett, Kay Dixon and G Hall. Special thanks to Tim Byrne for designing and maintaining the Female Arts website. http://timbyrne.co.uk

And thanks to our readers! Whether you Follow on twitter @femalearts, Like on facebook www.facebook.com/femalearts, or read us directly.

Happy New Year!


Blogs from cool female writers (some of them may also be hot or even lukewarm)

Check out these cool, funny, sublimely excellent blogs and websites!

Sophie Porter 'Tales of Minor Frustration' http://sophiewho.wordpress.com/
Katie Davison 'Writer. Stand Up. Lady' http://writerstanduplady.wordpress.com/
Ellen Fife 'That One There' http://thatonethere.tumblr.com/
Melanie Hunter http://www.melaniehunter.com/
Laura Kenwright 'Valentine Scribbles' http://valentinescribbles.wordpress.com/
Maggy Van Eijk http://www.abctales.com/user/maggyvaneijk and http://maggyvaneijk.tumblr.com
Helena Rampley 'The London Theatre Project' http://londontheatreproject.wordpress.com/
Kathryn Lewis 'Plot 36' http://cyprusplot36.wordpress.com/
Naia Headland-vanni 'SYS Theatre' www.systheatre.co.uk


Dear readers

I feel the need to apologise for such a quiet summer on Female Arts. I've been very busy finishing my Master's degree (there is still some work to go) but once my studies are completed there are lots of things I would like to do for the Female Arts website including frequency of information and updates.

I was captivated by the Olympics and so pleased to see how well female athletes did, in fact the two events I got tickets for were women's events - the football semi final (France vs Japan) and the pentathlon (GB got silver!).

Women won 11 of the 29 Olympic gold medals by team GB and there were five Olympic female multiple medallists. I hope that the Olympics changed the public perception of women in sports, including those such as football that are so heavily dominated by male teams.

Regarding the Paralympics of which I unfortunately saw very little, I think it's a shame the Paralympics is still held as a separate competition. My friend suggested that there should be just ONE opening and ONE closing ceremony with the Olympic and Paralympic games being held together. Having different TV channels cover the events (BBC for Olympics, Channel 4 for Paralympics) made me feel that the Paralympics is viewed as a poorer cousin. They should be treated as events of equal standing, just as female athletes should be viewed as equal to male athletes.

By the way, women won the majority of Paralympic gold medals - 19 of the 34 gold medals by team GB (a couple of these 19 are from mixed sex team events) and there were fifteen Paralympic female multiple medallists.

Britain finished third in the medals table for both the Olympics and Paralympics.

A golden summer!

(Photo - Stephanie Millward Paralympic swimmer)


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