Anne Hamilton/Hamilton Dramaturgy

Theatre Women’s Advocacy Groups

This is my most recent Bucks County Women’s Journal column about resources for women in the theatre.

You may download the article  here: BCWJ article on Theatre Women’s Advocacy Groups by Anne Hamilton.

Theatre Women’s Advocacy Organizations

By Anne Hamilton, M.F.A.

In the last few years, several new women’s advocacy organizations have joined those already established.

In New York, the perennial leaders include The League of Professional Theatre Women, and Women in the Arts and Media Coalition, Inc.

The League is an advocacy organization for reinforcing the positive image of, promoting the visibility of, and increasing the opportunities for women in the arts and entertainment industries, more particularly the professional theatre, thereby enriching the culture with the infusion of women’s creativity.

The purpose of the Coalition is to focus the power of its member organizations together and to use that combined strength to address issues of concern to women in theatre, film, TV, radio, and new media.

In recent years, they have been joined by many new groups. The Dramatists Guild Women’s Initiative advocates for female playwrights. And Works by Women supports theatrical work written, directed and/or designed by women.

WISE (Women in Stage Entertainment) was created by a group of like-minded women working in entertainment lighting who discovered they commonly faced issues that sometimes negatively impacted on their working lives. They felt the time had come to address these issues as a collective and to bring them to the attention of the wider industry.

17 Percent is an organization supporting and promoting female playwrights in the UK.

Why 17%? It’s a significant figure. It was quoted at Sphinx theatre’s 2009 ‘Vamps, Vixens and feminists’ conference as the percentage of UK women playwrights being produced and it’s also the pay gap between men and women.

While women make up 52% of the UK’s population, and 65% of the theatre audience, only 17% of UK produced plays are written by women. Something is badly skewed. The quoted figures are from 2010.

17% founder Sam Hall, says, “We will support and promote female playwrights through networking events, courses, feedback and dramaturgy, and championing women’s achievements in the theatre. We will also provide positive female role models and inspirations, showcases with opportunities for feedback, and mentoring opportunities.”

Services include an enewsletter, a blog, and video resources on YouTube.

Anne Hamilton has more than twenty years of experience in the professional theatre in NYC, across the nation, and internationally. She is available for script consultations and career advising through hamiltonlit@ Season Three of Hamilton Dramaturgy’s TheatreNow! will begin with an interview with Kate Valk, a leading actress with The Wooster Group.

Ten Ways to Advocate for Theatre Women

Recommendations by the League of Professional Theatre Women

Advocacy Committee, Deborah Savadge, Chair.

June 9, 2010.  

How can we, individually and collectively, use our personal and professional networks to advance the cause of visibility and opportunity for women in the theatre?     

  1. Talk about plays you’ve enjoyed that are by and about women. 
  2. Subscribe to a theatre company that produces work by women (such as the Women’s Project, Three Graces, and New Georges. Google to find others). 
  3. Use your theatre-going dollars to support women artists. Join the Meet-up Group Works-by-Women.  Join other women at the theatre on a group rate discount to see professional work by women writers, directors, and  designers.  (It’s free!) 
  4. Advocate for Blind Submissions of playwrights’ work.  Most major orchestras conduct blind auditions. Why not choose plays for prizes, grants, even productions, without regard to gender? Spread the word.
  5. If called upon to subscribe to a theatre ask, “How many women will be directing/designing/ writing/performing in plays for you this season?” Tell them you prefer to support theatres that are working toward gender parity. 
  6. Subscribe to New York Theatre Experience Guide to Plays by Women. (It’s free!) ( . Support its pledge to give parity to women in its coverage of theatre work.
  7. Join the DGA Women’s Initiative, New York Coalition of Professional Women in the Arts & Media, the League of Professional Theatre Women’s Advocacy Committee or 50/50 in 2020.       
  8. When you receive a brochure from a theatre company, count the women artists listed. Call the theatre to praise or critique them based on how close they are to parity.
  9. Talk about non-traditional casting (i.e., Judith Ivey as the Stage Manager in Our Town. Kathleen Chalfant as Mrs. Scrooge, Cate Blanchett as Hamlet, Fiona Shaw as Lear and Viola Davis as Gloucester). Talk, blog and use social networks to suggest plays you’d like to see in which a woman plays the lead, or in which women play the majority of the roles.
  10.  Amplify these actions by passing these tips to others.

Download the list Advocacy Committee – Ten Ways to Advocate for Theatre Women!