Women in Theatre – Scotland: where next?

Sep 24 2013 | By More

Debate at Edinburgh Traverse on Thursday 26 Sept

By Thom Dibdin

Half Scottish theatres neglect their equal opportunities policies, according to findings made by Christine Hamilton in her Review of Theatre in Scotland last year.

Hamilton has organised a debate at the Edinburgh Traverse theatre on Thursday. Chaired by Sheena McDonald, it will be led by Hamilton with Equity’s equality organiser Max Beckmann and Blandine Pélissier, founding member of the H/F association for gender equality in culture in France.

While all theatres in Scotland profess to having an ‘equal opportunities policy’, Hamilton’s review showed that fewer than half actually monitored that policy. Going back to these statistics, combined with recent research by Equity showing that opportunities for female actors are shrinking, has led Hamilton to question whether women are playing as full a role in theatre in Scotland as they could be.

Hamilton told Æ: “When we did the review of theatre in Scotland, I was surprised that Creative Scotland did not collect data and had no process for ensuring the theatres (and other organisations) it funds, not only had equal opportunity policies but also monitored them.

“I started looking into the issues again and discovered that little had changed over the thirty years I have been involved in the arts in Scotland. Based on research Stellar Quines did in 2009, yes the figures on gender balance have improved but only very slightly and I could be giving the same talk on issues of women in theatre on Thursday as I did in a similar event in 1983.”

Gender equality and the arts

Thursday’s debate came about because Hamilton was invited to take part in a conference in Lyon in May organised by a network in France which is campaigning on gender equality and the arts – not only in France but also at an EU level. One of the participants, Blandine Pélissier, is in Edinburgh for another event and suggested she and Hamilton might try and create an opportunity for her to meet, discuss with and exchange ideas with people here.

Blandine Pélissier is also the translator for Linda Maclean’s work, allowing the Playwrights’ Studio and Scottish Society of Playwrights to get involved in supporting the debate.

Hamilton added: “What I am hoping is that a new generation of women will come forward and carry on the fight. I am very excited by the season of work programmed by AJ Taudevin at the Tron next week, Re-claiming the F word and I look forward to hearing about other similar projects and ideas on Thursday. I am also very excited abut hearing what women in France and elsewhere in the UK are doing on this issue.”

ADDENDUM 25/9/13
This event has now moved to Traverse 1 to accomodate the level of interest.

Women in Theatre – Scotland: where next?
Traverse 1, Traverse Theatre, Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED
26 September, 6-7.30 pm.
Free, but ticketed. Contact the Traverse box office on 0131 228 1404 for further details.

Max Beckmann, Equality Organiser, Equity
Christine Hamilton, arts consultant and author of the Review of Theatre in Scotland 2012
Blandine Pélissier, founding member of the H/F association for gender equality in culture in France

Sheena McDonald, journalist and broadcaster

Supported by the Equity, Federation of Scottish Theatre, Playwrights’ Studio Scotland and Scottish Society of Playwrights and Traverse Theatre

Event details on the Travese websiste: www.traverse.co.uk


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