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Phyllida Lloyd: ‘We must lobby ACE to enforce 50/50 casting’

Phyllida Lloyd Phyllida Lloyd
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Phyllida Lloyd has called on Arts Council England to ensure publicly funded theatres create an equal number of stage roles for women and men.

The director, who recently staged all-female productions of Julius Caesar and Henry IV, said it was “indefensible” that large companies such as the Royal Shakespeare Company do not have gender-equal casting on stage.

Speaking at the British Theatre Consortium conference, Lloyd said ACE “should insist that all arts organisations employ 50/50 men and women on the stage, [as well as] diversity to reflect the wider world”.

She also took issue with earlier comments made by RSC deputy artistic director Erica Whyman, who suggested the RSC was not ready to commit to gender-equal casting because it would become difficult to perform the company’s repertoire.

Denouncing this as “nonsense”, Lloyd continued: “Originally they worked out how to tell these stories with a cast of entirely men. Now they’ve got men and women. Give them 50/50 and then they can work it out.

“It’s really about the most exciting actor releasing the story, whatever gender, colour, creed they are. We have to lobby for it. And I think it’s indefensible that in these huge organisations they don’t have 50/50 casting on the stage.”

She was backed by playwright and director David Grieg, who added: “I think there’s just really no excuse at all, if you’re in receipt of public subsidy, that what that subsidy goes towards should not pretty much reflect the society that’s paying the taxes.”

Last year, Sheffield Theatres announced it would create equal numbers of male and female parts across its upcoming in-house productions.