AWG Report: More Australian plays being staged, but female writers continue to miss out

13 December, 2016

The National Voice, a major survey of Australia’s 10 largest theatre companies, has concluded that while more original Australian plays are being produced than three years ago, there is still a shortfall when it comes to balance between male and female Australian playwrights.

The Australian Writers’ Guild’s The National Voice is an annual survey of programming trends, which looks specifically at the number of Australian works being produced and the gender split of their authors. The research, which focuses on the 10 theatre companies’ main stage programs, found that of the 95 plays to be staged across Australia in 2017, 52 (55%) are written by an Australian writer, up from 50% in 2016, but down from 63% in 2015.

Of these 52 Australian works, 23 (44%) are written by an Australian female writer, which is slightly up on 2016, but similar to the 2015 figure.

Patricia Cornelius from the Australian Writers’ Guild said the survey results are encouraging, but that there is still clearly room for improvement.

‘The 2017 seasons contain the highest number of original works by Australian writers we have seen over the past three years,’ Cornelius, who is herself a critically acclaimed playwright, said. ‘This is a welcome and major commitment from theatre companies to engaging with the original visions of Australian playwrights. It is disappointing, however, that we are in effect at a standstill when it comes to achieving a gender balance in the authorship of main stage Australian plays, with male writers continuing to dominate.‘

While seven out of ten of the major companies in the survey have at least half of their 2017 seasons written by women, when you look at the overall number of main stage plays being produced across Australia next year, it is clear gender parity is still elusive.

‘Gender parity should be an achievable goal for these major companies that more often than not profess a commitment to providing equal opportunity for women,’ Cornelius added.

The National Voice 2017 surveys the programming of the Sydney Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Queensland Theatre, State Theatre Company of South Australia, Black Swan State Theatre Company, Belvoir St Theatre, Malthouse Theatre, Ensemble Theatre, Griffin Theatre Company and La Boite Theatre Company.

The first AWG National Voice survey was published in 2015.

Read the full report HERE.

For all media enquiries, please contact Michael Salmon on 0417 495 018.The National Voice and Australian Writers’ Guild Ltd is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

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