Monday, March 7, 2016

Theatre fails mothers. Happy Mothers Day.

Today ( Sunday) is Mothers Day in Ireland. Two days before International Women's day. The day #wakingthefeminists hold their gathering at SIPTU.

Today (Sunday) awards were handed out at the Irish Times Theatre Awards. Congrats to the winners and all who were nominated. I hope everyone had fun. Maybe even inspired. (And yay for Lian and WTF)

I looked at the list of nominees and it got me thinking of choices female actors make. And an observance I have made over the years that perplexed me.
I have written in a previous blog that child care should be provided for women during rehearsals and performances if needed. It would be a tiny expense for a Theatre and a huge financial and psychological boost for female actors. At least I imagine it would, those I  have spoken to about this agree.
 If one parent stays at home ( male/female parents), it's almost always the woman because as we know, even if they had the same job , the man takes home more money. Economics often dictate.
But single moms may be being excluded from Theatre completely because of lack of services.

Are Theatres actually condemning mothers from working? I will list some actors I have worked with , and please understand this is not saying if one chooses to not have a child there is anything wrong with that choice. Or having a child makes one superior in some way.This has nothing to do with reason not to have children, rather what happens to people who do have children. I am interested in a pattern, and does it say something about opportunities in our work environment.
Two of the best experiences I've had working with women were with Cherry Jones and then with Swoosie Kurtz. Neither have children. I have worked with Linda Lavin and Stockard Channing, neither have children. All have long distinguished stage careers. I looked at many others I have worked with who don't have children, and I thought, well that's anecdotal. And of course there's a myriad of reasons not to have children. Nothing to see here, keep on moving. Its just the world we live in. But is Theatre different? Is It worse for mothers?

Here is a list of  women nominated for The Tony Awards this year (2015) , The Olivier Awards (2016) and last nights Irish Times Theatre Awards.
And their status pertaining to having a child as per wikipedia ( so the info may be wrong!)
Again I just wanted to see if there was a bias, and wonder if the bias has to do with Theatre being an unwelcoming place for mothers who want to work.

2015 Tony Nominations
Best Actress;
Helen Mirren ,     No Child.
Carey Mulligan   1 Child
Elizabeth Moss    No Child
Geneva Carr        No Child
Ruth Wilson        No Child

Best Actress Musical;
Kristen Chenoweth  No Child
Leanne Cope            No Child
Beth Malone            No Child
Keli O'Hara              2   Children
Cita  Rivera              No Child

  Featured in a Play;
Annaleigh Ashford     No Child
Patricia Clarkson        No Child
Lydia Leonard            No Child
Sarah Stiles                No Child
Julie White                 No Child

Featured in a Musical;
Victoria Clarke         1 Child
Judy Kuhn                 1 Child
Sydney Lucas ( child performer)
Ruth Ann Miles         No Info
Emily Skeggs           No Child

2016   Olivier Nominees
Best Actress;
Denise Gough        No Child
Gemma Arterton    No Child
Janet McTeer          No Child
Lia Williams           1 Child
Nicole Kidman       4 Children

Imelda Stanunton    1 Child
Laura Pitt-Pulford   No Info
Natalie Dew            No Child
Sophie Thomson     2 Children
Tracie Bennett         No Child

featured in a Play;
Catherine Steadman   No Child
Judie Dench                1 Child
Melody Grove            No Child
Michele Dotrice          1 Child

featured Musical;

Amy Lennox         No Child
Emma Williams    No Child
Lara Pulver           No Child
Preeya Kalidas      No Child

Irish Times Theatre Award 2015

Garry Hynes   No Child
Grace Dyas     No Child

Actress ;
Derbhle Crotty       No Child
Cathy Belton          No Child
Aisling O'Sullivan  No Child
Susan Lynch            1 Child

I apologize if I have revealed personal details  against anyones wishes. I am copying what is already on the internet. Should it happen that someone who reads this wants their name removed please just ask.

I think this random sample does ask questions.
It would be interesting to compare the men who were nominated, however I'm more interested in asking the question is lack of child care stopping women from working. I think it does.
And we should change this don't you think?

Please share or comment if you wish.


  1. This applies equally to stage managers, Brían, not just actors. After I had my lovely son, I was not able to take any work in theatre.

  2. Minnaloushe, I don't doubt it. It's just easy to quantify with actors and these lists. As Stage Managers aren't included in award shows and don't often have Wiki pages ( though we know you run everything! )

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  4. Of course we do Brían!

  5. Of course we do Brían!

  6. Another thought provoking post Brian - to make me cringe and want to scream!!
    Yes, to all of the above!
    Theres little or no support in theatre for mothers. A little more tolerance is all I ask for. I think expecting them to pay towards childminding is a long way off.
    I've been told to suck it up- If you want the gig, don't even suggest to the employer that childminding might be an issue! Resulting in my contribution to Irish Theatre going from an average of 6 - 8 plays a year, down to 1...every 3 years!
    I have to say, my last theatre job was great though. I told them scheduling was going to be difficult with their dad away on tour. They were fine about it! It just took a few tweaks. I was given a little bit of leaway in the morning so I could get the boys to school and the director gave me a schedule a few days in advance so I knew exactly when I was needed. Thats all that changed! Small changes and a little tolerance took the stress out of it and made it possible for me to work.
    My first gig after becoming a mom might inform how thing could be...
    I had done a few series of "The Clinic". My new baby was 3mths when the new season was starting and I had no intentions of going back. I gave them plenty of notice so they could kill me off!
    Then one morning the producer arrived at my door and just said we'd love to have you back, how can we make this work!! I'll never forget it as long as I live!
    Basically I told him I was feeding and I just needed to be near the baby all the time. He said fine! They set aside a room in the production office building, which was right beside the set. They decorated it with baby stuff for me, made it cosy! And I hired a childminder who came to work with me every day.
    I did my job and between takes and at break time I nipped out for a baby cuddle! If I needed to breastfeed, they gave me a 10 minute break. Even the crew in the production office popped in to see the baby from time to time and get a few cuddles! Even they said having a baby around made the workplace calmer and a more pleasant environment.
    It worked like a dream and apart from taking up a room in the production building, it cost them nothing and meant the world to me.
    Like Olga says - tours and tv schedules turn everything into a nerve racking juggle. A creche on site paid for by the theatre would be amazing! But I think it needs baby steps (excuse the pun!). A change in attitude and a tolerance of children would be a great start!