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League of Professional Theater Women Releases 2015 Study On The Status Of Women Employed By New York Theatres


The League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW), as part of a larger initiative called Women Count, has issued findings from its second annual analysis of the status of women employed in New York City theatres off-stage and outside the Broadway district.

While the status of women playwrights and directors has been the subject of numerous studies, the league's 2015 study, conducted by LPTW members Martha Wade Steketee and Judith Binus, analyzes employment in 13 professional roles (including playwrights, directors, and designers) in 455 Off- and Off-Off-Broadway productions in 22 theatre companies for five complete seasons, 2010-2011 through 2014-2015.

Among their findings for the 2014-15 season, new plays by women made up 34% of the total plays produced, while revivals of plays by women totaled 0%.

Six of the study's theatres presented 50% or more women playwrights in their 2014-2015 seasons: Ensemble Studio Theatre, Lincoln Center Theater, MCC, Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwrights Horizons, and The Women's Project.

40% of the plays produced were directed by women with high percentages of stage managers (70%) and costume designers (76%).

Nine of the study's theatres had 50% or more women directors in their 2014-2015 seasons: EST, Flea Theatre, LAByrinth, LCT, New Group, Rattlestick, Signature, Soho Rep, and The Women's Project.

Much lower totals were found for designers of sets (22%), lights (13%) and sound (17%).

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In 1980, despite the fact that women were instrumental in establishing the regional theatre movement, there were very few artistic directors at the major regional theatres. Nor were many women functioning in non-performing artistic capacities in the Broadway theatre. No woman had ever won a Tony for directing. The idea for the League of Professional Theatre Women was hatched at an American Theatre Association conference in San Diego in 1981 by a group of women aware of this situation and concerned particularly with the dearth of women playwrights and directors in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.

Julia Miles, Associate Director of the American Place Theatre in New York City, was the League's founding member and first chair. She recalls the purpose of founding the League as "to get the commercial Broadway theatre to know about non-profit women playwrights and directors so that we could get them some bring commercial interests together with nonprofit interests so they could benefit from each other." In the early years a major thrust of the League was networking. The League continues to emphasize networking activity, but has expanded its programs to include various types of services to the entire field. Its mission is to increase the visibility of and promote opportunities for women in all aspects of the professional theatre. Incorporated in 1986, the League now boasts a membership of nearly 500 women representing a diversity of theatre professionals in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. League members are actors, administrators, agents, arrangers, casting directors, choreographers, company managers, composers, critics, designers, directors, dramaturgs, educators, general managers, historians, journalists, librettists, lyricists, playwrights, press agents, producers, stage managers, and theatre technicians.

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