We are entering into our fourth commission of the College Collaboration Project. I have made a commitment to commission female writers for the first five years. I was inspired to do this when I witnessed the unconscious bias against female writers by a female artistic director. I know it was not conscious because there was no agenda against women or pro-men – but when there were six slots for a retreat to invite new writers to a program, those slots were filled by six men. Five of which were over forty.
I happen to fall into that category. I would like my plays to be picked for development. I would like them to be produced. I certainly don’t want to not be picked because I fall into that category. However, recognizing that there is an unconscious bias I felt it important to make this commitment. Especially since the plays of the College Collaboration aren’t just being workshopped. They are being produced. Production is important. Putting resources fully behind artists is important for their growth and for them to be viewed as legitimate to the community as a whole. The wonderful thing when this happens at the college level is that the work is new for the student artists and it becomes the norm that women would of course be fully produced playwrights.
I’m self conscious to write about this as if it is changing the world. It’s an observation that I had and recognized I could take a small step toward lending support toward change.
In all cases I feel as if the best writer, regardless of gender, has been chosen to be part of the program.
9 out of 11 of the College Collaboration Project productions have been directed by men. Again, I fit this category. I would want to direct one of these plays. I love new plays. All of the directors have been wonderful, talented, and committed artists. They have been excellent partners. They have been wonderful collaborators with the
writers. The first six productions of the College Collaboration Project were made up of teams of a female playwright and male director. So, as an Artistic Director, it was my first time collaborating with an all female leadership team. I was aware of this from the onset of the project. The work was approached in the same way as the other productions. There was no difference in quality. All of the collaborations have been equally committed and professional in their approach to the process. However, when in town to see the shows and witnessing the working relationship – it was slightly different. I believe there are a lot of elements that contribute to successful relationships; the individuals, chemistry, life experience, interests, etc. In both productions the relationship between writer and director was slightly more comfortable. I’m not sure what it was exactly, but there was a familiarity and trust present in the relationship that was achieved with a greater sense of ease between the collaborators. When we met at the restaurant before the show, I was aware that when I joined the table, I was slightly outside of the relationship. Not in a bad way. Not in an exclusive way. In the smallest of ways. In a way I imagine it feels when one female joins the table of two males, or one ethnicity joins the table of two or more of the same.
I’m for balance. I’m for equality. As I get older, and I’m a slow learner, I recognize that if the desire is for diversification of a student body, or a faculty, or a collaborative team it’s good to make sure people know they not only have a seat at the table but it’s a table where they belong. They are not alone. They are not the ‘other’. Diversification happens when we create opportunities for people to fully and comfortably be themselves in the world.
The Farm will continue creating opportunities to cultivate early career artists. We will continue creating opportunities for mentoring relationships to occur. We will continue creating opportunities to showcase the talents of those that need a platform. We will continue to build a community of support around those on the platform.
Talk with you soon.