Friday, March 3, 2017

Hey Druid, not fair !

I have two daughters. I often hear the call "Not fair", or oddly,  "No fair" which may be from a tv show. Which of course is restricted viewing and only allowed after several hours of reading classics.
It's usually cried if one daughter gets something the other feels she should have received. If you are a parent , you know the deal. Then comes the moment when I pretend to be a good knowledgeable father an  explain the situation. Failing that I let them know this is some kind of teachable moment for a world that awaits them. Where they will have to be happy not getting what they want.
What usually happens then is they persist and I give in. And we are all happy.

Imagine we are all playwrights. Some of you may be. So this won't be too difficult an ask. Imagine it's a hot day, and we've been playing hard outside . ( oh , I forgot, we're kids) We are all in a room together, in walks our camp co ordinator ( ok , its seems we are at camp). Lets call the camp co ordinator Garry Hynes. In fact, lets not just  coincidentally call her Garry Hynes, lets make her Garry Hynes.
Hurrah !! We are having such a good time !!!! Hurrah !!!!! what a great camp !!!! Hurrah !!!!

Garry comes into our noisy room and shouts who wants ice cream !!!!! Hurrah !!! Hurrah !!!!! I want Ice Cream !!!! Hurrah !!!!!  ( we all cheer raising our arms, stretching to be the tallest , laughing. On our toes. What joy)

What a great day. Lets all make plans for the games we'll play after ice cream. Us eager kid playwrights at theatre camp ( ok, it's a kid playwright camp. Just go with it .)

Garry comes back with arms full of cones ( ok, that doesn't work lets say, her assistants have them too) Hurrah!!!! Ice Cream !!!!

 Garry starts handing them out. " Unfortunately , the ice cream van ran out , but we'll get more tomorrow for those left out. A groan from us all. Oh no!!! Some won't have ice cream till tomorrow. Kids  grab whats offered. Its not just ice cream, its cones. Its not just cones, they are fecking 99's. I get one one.

 Hurrah !!! 99 !!!!!

A silence descends as we all lick. Or half of us do.

And then we see only the boys got ice-cream. All the girls are sitting looking at us. Garry is finishing her second. There's a girl beside her, an assistant, finishing one as well.

Several girls drop their heads.

One girl says ...... "Its not fair" .

Some boys laugh.
Most girls remain silent.

The girl again says,  " no fair" .

Garry says "you get one tomorrow, trust me". And she eats the last bite. An assistant hands her another. The last one.

And then Druid issue a statement.

Last year I talked about the Abbey and their pie ( it's basic I know, apologies. I'm a Apple pie ice cream guy ). When Fiach left the room to go on vacation he left the room too long. Lian Bell and Belinda McKeown spoke up. Others followed. When he walked back in from vacation a revolution had started. People had been allowed to talk open and freely. There was no push back. No spin control. Voices were heard. People with their heads bowed lifted them up.
Garry Hynes statement was pulled from her back pocket. She doesn't want to leave the room.
The problem is , some of us don't care anymore.
Its not fair.

There is no difference between The Abbey 2016 program  and Druid's 2017. None. There are no female playwrights. None. Women do not have a voice.

Lets look at the response from Garry Hynes.

Let me also add that most of my favorite experiences in Theatre have been with Druid and Garry Hynes. This is not a personal grudge, I love her and it. But this program and their response sucks.

Her first paragraph reaffirms her support of gender equality at Druid. Of  course coming from someone who has broken barriers down her entire career, including the highest glass ceiling, in becoming the first woman to win a Tony award for directing, this seems like a redundant statement. But as Garry attested last year, when she placed herself front and center in the Waking The Feminists movement, Druid has not been mindful of gender parity. My guess is when the WTF report on the last decade is published next week, it will paint an astonishingly bad picture of Druid. And if it shows female directors ( other than herself ) it will be damning. But the damning thing she states in the first paragraph is that it is not logical to think that there can be gender parity within one "speciality within one programme ". Think about that. We are talking about female playwrights. We are talking about the artistic director of a publicly funded theatre, who positioned herself in the middle of WTF, and she is categorically saying it is not logical to expect gender parity. Presumably because she won't do it. Because that's all it takes. But I'll take her at her word. So don't expect it.

The second paragraph is difficult to get through because we are told gender parity is not "simple statistics". As my friends here in Southern Cali might intone, 'eh ..... Dude, yes it is ". It's just simple statistics. Like this simple statistic. 100 % of Druid's 2017 program is Male. It will be fantastic and wonderful without doubt, and the simple statistic is a female will not have penned a single word. Garry tells us that commitment and making the change is what matters. Ok, sorry for the dumb misconception. I just thought, it could be solved by having a 50/50 split. So lets look at the commitment Druid offers.
Now I may be dreaming, but I think the original statement has been changed. I am completely open to contradiction here, I may have read this somewhere else, but I think this was stated . That there were 3 commissions out to women. Well thats great. It will be a small amount of money for someone. I bet it's very small, but I don't know. As a commitment, I say, great. I think the original said ( again if I'm dreaming this I apologize ) that there are 4 female directors. If this wasn't stated, it is a fact. All four male playwrights are directed by women. The 4 women are , Garry Hynes , Garry Hynes, Garry Hynes and Annabelle Comyn. Since Garry is one of the best directors in the world this is a very positive thing, but as someone who is making a commitment to gender parity across disciplines ... not so much. If the women you are supporting in gender parity questions is yourself... meh.
"Achieving gender  balance across our panels ", great , but again we are addressing the no female playwright panel. That one.
If a commitment to gender balance includes , and I'll just quote what is written;
"producing plays which, although written by men, address honestly the situation of women in our society and present strong, interesting roles for women" , 
Well I did'nt think thats where we were at. I thought that is just being a good director. I did'nt think we got brownie points for not putting on shit.

Finally we are told "Making real difference takes time -quick wins alone are not the answer ". Oh yes, that's good. Listen, people in theatre in Ireland are broke. I'm not talking administrators etc, who have a wage ( terrible btw ) , and the lowest in theatre is the playwright. And obviously the lowest in that "panel" s the female playwright. So Druid, you know what makes a difference, a woman who has worked for however long to write a play, getting paid because it's produced. Is that "quick win" not an answer. That they can pay a bill, get a treat, tell their friends and family that they are not deluded losers sitting in a room alone trying to work out what the hell life means through story in a ridiculous medium called theatre. Ridiculous because simple statistics show they are writing just for themselves. It will never be seen. That one "quick win" where a female playwright can post on FaceBook , "My play is being done in Druid !". As an actor, I survive on quick wins alone. Planning and choosing is  a gift bestowed to few artists. Unless you are an artistic director that is.

The final quote is interesting on may levels. It suggests to me, someone who has never read a book on gender equality , that perhaps I know nothing about the issue. My simple logic of lets just divide everything up equally for a while and see how it goes is lacking in real understanding.It's a nice quote that I don't agree with, but has merit of course. But what is interesting is it's use by Garry in this context. It suggests that Garry is outside fighting to get in. She is with the female playwright in the struggle.
Garry Hynes is inside. She makes the decision. The "achievable actions" are available because, well she just decides. As she and Druid decided to keep female playwrights out in the year of WTF.

The cherry on top of this response/defense from Druid is the quote. Taken from Lucy Kerbel's book " All Change Please : A Practical Guide To Achieving Gender Equality in Theatre" , this book is not yet available to buy. It hasn't been published yet. Its unavailable.

Much like Druid Theatre is to female Playwrights.

here is Druids response to a couple of people saying their program was #NotFair

I hope to work at Druid in the future and remain friends with Garry Hynes.