Women Have Long Been At The Centre Of Our Work
A couple of weeks ago theatre blogger, Victoria Sadler, made waves on social media with her piece: 2017 in Review: The Lot for Female Playwrights Worsens. Having considered the programmes of six leading London theatres it revealed that in the capital, plays by women were few and far between. A depressing fact given this has been raised before, let alone it being 2017.
In Birmingham, however, the picture couldn't be different. This year our programme has included work by 16 female writers and theatre makers. And our autumn season is no different. Over the next two months our New & Nurtured programme features six new plays by local writers, four of them are women (stand up Manjeet Mann, Olivia Winteringham, Elinor Coleman and Susie Sillett - pictured above). Yes, that's right four female playwrights in the space of two months. More than double some of the London theatres in the aforementioned blog have presented in a year.
Some might argue however that quantity doesn't always mean quality. Our New & Nurtured strand is an opportunity to produce new plays by writers that we've supported through our artist development programme. It represents a remarkable range of young, local, female talent – something that we've seen not just this year, but over the five years since artistic director, Roxana Silbert, started REP Foundry. Previous Foundry artists such as Francesca Millican-Slater, Amerah Saleh, Stephanie Ridings and Selina Thompson have gone on to have their work commissioned both by The REP and elsewhere. Without this vital development work and opportunities to fully produce new work our stages wouldn't truly reflect a diverse range of voices.
This also isn't a new thing. In recent years, The REP has premiered the work of a substantial number of women dramatists including Bryony Lavery, Debbie Isitt, Fay Weldon, Abi Morgan, Moira Buffini, Kate Tempest, Rachel De-lahay and Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti. From our very beginnings, our founder Barry Jackson championed new work and plays by women such as Elizabeth Baker, Cicely Hamilton and Dorothy Massingham were regularly staged. Women have long been at the centre of our work, long may it continue.