Women playwrights up only 2% in past 10 years in Ireland – report

The Abbey Theatre in Dublin. Photo: Ros Kavanagh The Abbey Theatre in Dublin. Photo: Ros Kavanagh
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The proportion of women writing new plays for Ireland’s stages has increased by just 2% in the past decade, claims a new survey published by the Irish Theatre Institute.

The 54-page Findings Report of the Irish Playography: Gender Breakdown, New Play Repertoire 2006-2015 analysed details of 737 new English-language plays professionally produced in Ireland during the period.

Using information from the institute’s online database, Irish Playography – which lists more than 4,000 Irish plays since the formation of the Abbey Theatre in 1904 – the report found that only a third of playwrights produced over the decade to 2015 were women.

It noted a marginal improvement of 2% in the average proportion of new plays by female playwrights produced in the second half of the decade, taking the total from 29% to 31%.

Women accounted for just 39% of directors for the surveyed productions, with the average cast size of five also skewed towards men, and female actors accounting for less than half (41%) of all characters.

Although published credits did not always include key technical roles, the figures also suggest that women are under-represented in the roles of lighting and set design and that “the disciplines of costume and sound remain gendered for female and male designers respectively”.

The report confirms the findings of a survey on gender balance in Irish theatre published earlier this month by the pressure group, Waking the Feminists.

In a statement, the Irish Theatre Institute said: “The statistics show that the [gender] breakdown is unequal and ITI will continue to research, document and report trends in Irish theatre as the sector moves toward the gender balance that is now the focus for the future.”