BWW Profile: PARITY PRODUCTIONS

BWW Profile: PARITY PRODUCTIONS

It is no secret that women in theatre have to struggle harder to get higher recognition, better pay, and to get their plays produced. Oh, and transgender people in the theatre community face those struggles, too. Fortunately, British director Ludovica Villar-Hauser has founded Parity Productions, a theatre company that is dedicated to creating more opportunities for them.

You are probably thinking - or singing - "It seems to me I've heard that song before." Well, this isn't just another attempt to get attention with a soundbite. Parity Productions has an artistic and social mission to hire a minimum of 50 percent women and transgender people in every production. It gets even better. Parity Productions will commission two plays per year by women and transgender people for $2,500.00 each.

Before you apply, you should know that Parity Productions is not something that came up spontaneously with well-intentioned but inexperienced people behind it. The theatre company is looking for professionals, not dilettantes. The driving force behind Parity Productions is Villar-Hauser, who was just 23 years old when she was the youngest producer/director to direct on London's West End. She then went on to own and operate The Greenwich Street Theatre in New York City for 17 years, where she developed more than 30 new plays and produced the works of hundreds of professional theatre people. Villar-Hauser also founded Works by Women (www.worksbywomen.org) in 2009, which until its conversion along with VH Theatrical Development Foundation, to the new Parity Productions supported more than 120 productions in New York, which were written, directed, produced, or designed by women in less than five years.

Parity Productions formally launched on May 16, 2016. It had a reading of Household Words, Gregory Murphy's new play, with a production to follow in spring of 2017. The play is about Charles Dickens's favorite daughter, Kate, who tries to flee the corrupting power of his global fame. In the fall, it will produce Village Stories, a one-woman play about a woman's life experiences, in particular, her divorce, and the experiences of her ancestors. Antoinette LaVecchia created and wrote the show, and will perform. Another show in development is Teresa Lotz's She Calls Me Firefly. "Our works tell stories about the human experience through the lens of people or groups that would typically be marginalized, but refuse to be so," explains Villar-Hauser.

The theatre company is fluid, with no home stage. It does have an online store which sells professional services to artists and others in the industry such as Dramaturgy, Strategic Planning Consulting, Professional Designer Services and Music Lessons and uniquely, artwork donated by the estate of the renowned Welsh-American artist Sylvia Sleigh, handmade gifts, dramaturgical consultation by Villar-Hauser, piano lessons, and other services. Ten percent of the proceeds of the sales go to fund Parity Productions' commissioned plays. One out of every $10 they make from The Parity Store goes to supporting the work in development from the annually commissioned artists. (They call it the 10% Pledge).

The unprecedented donation of Sleigh's works is not just a bonus for Parity Productions. Sleigh maintained that although things have improved for women in general, "it's still very difficult in the art world for women to find a gallery." Or a stage to produce their plays.

For more information, call Parity Productions at 646-737-5180 or visit www.parityproductions.org. Also visit www.ludovicavillarhauser.com, www.vhtfoundation.org, and www.worksbywomen.org.

Photo by John Quilty

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