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Marianne Elliott: Older women in theatre ‘seen as something to laugh at’

Marianne Elliott at the Olivier Awards 2018. Photo: Pamela Raith Marianne Elliott at the Olivier Awards 2018. Photo: Pamela Raith
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Director Marianne Elliott has argued that older women are sidelined in theatre because they are perceived as “not valuable and something to laugh at”.

Producer Chris Harper, who runs a production company with the director, echoed Elliott’s comments, arguing that representation of older female artists is equally important “behind the scenes” as it is on stage.

Harper and Elliott were speaking at the Critics’ Circle Awards, where their production of Company won best musical.

Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards 2019: the winners in full

Elliott argued that older women were underrepresented in all areas of theatre.

Asked why she felt women were being sidelined in the industry, she told The Stage: “I think older women are regarded as not valuable, they’ve always been thought of in that way, as something to laugh at.

“Actually I think what we’re discovering is that a lot more older women are becoming very vocal and being very open about that, and therefore I think there’s a hunger for seeing more of their stories out there.”

Harper added that the issue of female representation extended to the entire production team. He said: “It’s not just about the writing, it’s about the people behind the scenes, it’s about [set designer] Bunny Christie, it’s about [lighting designer] Paule Constable, it’s about all of those brilliant artists and actually what they’re doing. It’s about trying to address it in lots of different ways and about inclusivity on stage and backstage.”

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