The Independent London Newspaper
23rd October 2014

Letters

No equal opportunities on stage for our female actors

    Published: 21 June, 2012

    • IT has come to our attention that the programming throughout the current season on the main stage at Hampstead Theatre shows little regard for female performers’ right to work or for actual women being represented.

    Hampstead Theatre is currently showing Chariots of Fire with a cast of 18 men and three women, then will show the DruidMurphy trilogy with 13 male and four female roles, followed by Shakespeare’s Henry V and Winter’s Tale with an all male company and no roles at all for women.

    Hampstead Theatre is a subsidised theatre in receipt of public funding and, as such, has a duty to respect equality and diversity.

    Jean Rogers, vice-president of the actors’ union Equity, who has been leading an Equity campaign for a number of years on a fair gender balance in the performing arts has commented: “Forty-three artistic directors of subsidised theatre companies were sent letters from our general secretary drawing their attention to the need for better employment of women in the theatre and asking for their plans to improve the situation.

    “Hampstead Theatre was one of them. Barely a dozen responded which, in the light of their public funding and duty towards gender equality as recipients of government subsidies, is deplorable.

    “Our membership has an equal gender balance, as does society in general and this should be reflected in employment opportunities in the theatre sector.

    “No one expects individual productions to be equally balanced, but over an entire season there should be an attempt at parity.”

    As residents and tax- payers, as well as audience members in this area, and also as members of the local Equity branch, we request that Hampstead’s artistic director, Edward Hall, ensures that the lack of regard for gender balance shown through­out this current season is redressed within the future programming of productions on the main stage.
    Edward Pleasance
    Secretary
    NW London Equity Branch

    Comments

    Hampstead Theatre

    As an Equity member and Camden resident, I echo every word of Edward Pleasance'sPleas. What kind of actual thinking has gone into the formation of this season? The wrong kind, clearly, and on ACE subsidy which as I understand it carries some notion of the need for the observance of equalities. Perhaps a full season of plays by women and performed by women would compensate to some extent. What about it, Edward?

    Frances Rifkin
    Chair Independent Theatre Arts committee, Equity.

    Funding

    Why is the Arts Council of England so scared of calling its clients to account on this?
    Equity's Jean Rogers is an idea champion of equality.

    Half of humanity has no voice and that half is paying for this inequality.
    Beebon Kidron was talking about this on Hardtalk on the BBC World Service this morning.

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