I meant to write a blog about the London Q&A a couple of days ago, but the Glasgow shows took over. It was a truly brilliant session and has gone on to stimulate further debate thanks to twitter and a blog on the Guardian theatre site - click here to read. We live tweeted from the event so search for #a160qa to read the feed.
Theatre503 - the venue for our London shows and the Q&A
The panel was chaired by Guardian critic Lyn Gardner. I sat on it too and the other panelists were:
- Lisa Cagnacci, director and writer
- Flavia Fraser-Cannon, producer
- Sam Hall, founder of the 17 per cent campaign
- Amy Hodge, director
- Sue Parrish, artistic director of Sphinx Theatre Company
We started by discussing whether things had improved - Sue Parrish recalled how she was once told that women couldn't write or make theatre because they were too busy being mothers; that women had achieved a lot but had to fight tooth and nail for it and that the fight needed to continue. How producers could help female writers was also discussed. Flavia said the staging of female work often countered preconceptions and Lisa Cagnacci said she believed women often had to fight against the idea of a female aesthetic - men may be freer to explore form. Sam Hall widened the debate - was it that perceptions of gender from a very early age was impacting on female writers in terms of confidence and ideas about their work?
The discussion shifted onto what could be done to help improve the situation: Amy suggested strong networks needed to be created to help women support and encourage each other following on from initial development work. Over on twitter, the debate widened with tweets pointing out that older writers needed support too; a discussion over whether writers should change the gender of some characters; a debate over an anonymous submissions process and also whether the production gap was the same as the commission gap.
Do feel free to add your thoughts to the debate by tweeting @agent160theatre and using the #a160qa hashtag. The Scottish Q&A took place last night so there's another Q&A blog to follow!