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Maxine Peake: ‘Women are better than men at running theatres’

Sarah Frankcom and Maxine Peake at The Stage Awards 2016. Photo: Eliza Power Sarah Frankcom and Maxine Peake at The Stage Awards 2016. Photo: Eliza Power
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Maxine Peake has claimed women are better at running theatres than men because they are more adept at multitasking and often have smaller egos.

Peake was speaking at The Stage Awards about the work of Sarah Frankcom at Manchester’s Royal Exchange, a theatre she has worked with on a number of occasions. The actor said women were instinctively better at “keeping all the balls in the air”.

She told The Stage: “I just think actually women are probably better for running buildings, because they can multitask. And I think – without sounding terribly sexist, and I’m not saying across the board – they generally have a smaller ego.”

She continued: “There are female theatre directors out there with huge egos, I know. But I think they can deal with a building [better], because they’ve got that instinct of keeping all the balls in the air, and I think that suits women’s strengths.”

Peake was attending The Stage Awards with Frankcom, where the Royal Exchange was named regional theatre of the year.

The Bolton-born actor is an associate artist at the Manchester venue, and has repeatedly performed there over the course of her career – most recently in a staging of Caryl Churchill’s The Skriker.

Peake also voiced frustration that theatres in Manchester are not recognised at the Olivier Awards, and said the awards should be expanded to include theatres nationwide.

She explained: “I get so annoyed because theatre is so London centric. People say to me: ‘Oooh, you’re not doing another play in Manchester?’. Well, why not? It’s a great place to be doing it, and there’s a regular audience there.

“But I think awards like the Oliviers – why should they just be London? It’s shocking. They’re televised. It should be nationwide. It’s like: let’s all just celebrate theatre that’s in London – well, it’s not always the best to be honest.”

She went on to suggest that critics of regional theatre failed to recognise that theatres outside of London have fewer resources.

“What people don’t take into account is in the regions we have less money, we have less time,” Peake said.

She added: “For a big show like Hamlet, we had five weeks. If you do it at the National, you get nine weeks. And then people review it on the same basis. And you think: we had two previews and then press night, they had two weeks and then press night. So let’s just put things into perspective.”

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