A dedicated platform promoting female musical theatre composers is being created in a bid to move the industry towards 50:50 gender parity.
The project will create an online database of female theatre composers to showcase the “wealth of talent” in the UK. It also aims to collect data that can used to encourage change.
It is being set up by composer Kate Marlais, who was nominated at The Stage Debut Awards 2018 and was inspired to act after becoming frustrated with the uphill struggle of being a woman in the profession.
Research conducted by The Stage last year found that just 9% of West End musicals produced in the West End over the past decade were written by female composers.
Three-quarters of musicals staged in the West End over the same period had exclusively male writing teams.
Marlais, who is the Cameron Mackintosh resident composer at the Lyric Hammersmith, told The Stage: “Time and time again people ask: ‘Where are all the female composers writing for theatre and musical theatre in the UK?’ I thought what I should do is answer that question very directly, so when people ask it I can say: ‘Here they are.'”
The platform, Modulate, will become a database of the women working in musical theatre composition, Marlais said. Individual composers can create a profile of themselves featuring career information as a showcase of their work, as well as requirements and aspirations.
“The ultimate goal is 50:50 gender balance in this community, and many schemes have started to do it for other aspects of the industry – writers, directors and so on – but we must make sure we do it for all corners of the creative process,” she said.
In the first instance, female composers are being asked to fill out an online form that will enable the collation of data on female composers. This will then be aggregated and analysed to gather industry-wide trends as well as specific data that can be used to illustrate the make-up of the profession and lobby theatres for change.
Marlais said she wanted the final online platform to become “the go-to place” for theatres, producers and creatives seeking composers.
“Hopefully there will be no more excuses as to why they haven’t potentially looked as hard as they could have in the first place. I have had conversations with people who are looking for composers and they genuinely do not know where to start, so this could be that starting point for them to go to and have every piece of information to make a decision,” she said.