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Vicky Featherstone: ‘More needs to be done to support women in the sector’

Royal Court artistic director Vicky Featherstone has called for women with children in the theatre industry to be better supported, claiming that most cannot afford childcare.

She made her comments on BBC2 magazine show Artsnight, in a discussion with female creatives including actors Maxine Peake and Jessica Hynes.

When asked by Peake what she would change for female theatre workers, Featherstone answered: “I think it would be – for those who want to and can – childcare, because people in theatre are not well paid at all. So for me it would be about being able to support [women’s access to] childcare, which is a very personal thing.”

Hynes agreed, and called for a tax relief on childcare services for women in the industry.

Featherstone’s comments echo those of West End director Marianne Elliott, who said last year that women with children will not become directors because they are paid “terribly” and cannot afford childcare [1].

Elsewhere in the programme, Featherstone criticised the number of plays where the central female roles lack “agency”.

She said: “There are so many plays that I read that are really good plays, where the role of the women in the play is to be the mother that has allowed the son to get into the mess that the son is in, and that’s what the play is about.

“And what I’m trying to do here is to really question, and enable the writers to question…not only how many women there are in the play, but…their agency, and what affect do they have on the play?”

Watch the episode of Artsnight curated by Maxine Peake here [2].