BAZ Blogger: Jess Bailey

Hello again, Friends. Now spring is about to be sprung we want to talk to you about Women in Theatre. (forgive us, sometimes it’s hard for us not to quote Frank Sinatra - and we will forgive you for rolling your eyes at Women in Theatre) These are heady days for broads on boards, presumably, to some people: it’s hard to tell, like a mirage or chasing your own tail, it looks shimmery and inviting in the distance, welcoming us all into this “Don’t worry, be happy” glow like some kind of government statistic or something. (Really, Dave? Is unemployment down, or is startups up? We join you now in rolling our eyes.)

Throwing it back to our last post, let us quote the late great Amy Winehouse: (I just wanted to) “challenge myself, just to see what I could write, you know, just because there was nothing else, there that I could listen to at that time.” We at BAZ have felt that for some time; don’t get us wrong, we love all kinds of productions, on at the West End and off West End too, but without that impulse Amy felt to get out there and do it, it wouldn’t get done. Well, that’s how we got Surrealism, Cubism, Monty Python and pineapple chunks on cocktail sticks.  Our manifesto has always stated that we want, and seek out diversity and gender balance (if not overbalance) to not only our projects but to our makeup. But why are we still having to say that?

One third (and a little bit) of BAZ went to the free Act For Change event  in June 2015 at The National’s Olivier Theatre and we were blown away with both the fierce support and the crying need we found there from performers and actors to actual artistic directors and people who run buildings, companies for fair representation. We experienced a rallying cry for diversity of all types, whether based on race, gender or disability, to change the makeup of the industry, but what we were calling for was plain, simple and basic: opportunity. Should that be so difficult in 2016? Back in 2014, though, the theatre industry  publicly pledged to equal the gender balance in productions, with Daniel Evans of the Sheffield Crucible leading the charge based on the compelling and irrefutable evidence of Lucy Kerbel and Tonic Theatre’s research. To be fair, there does seem to be some change on either side of the debate with a with the hugely popular all male Twelfth Night at the Globe that transferred to Broadway in 2013 to the Josie Rourke-run Donmar’s hugely successful all female Caesar with Harriet Walter stealing the show also in 2013, Kneehigh’s Emma Rice waiting in the wings to take over at the Globe and the recently announced incredibly exciting news of Queen Glenda taking on King Lear (we’re the first outside with jacket now)

So far so awesome, right? More women screaming, laughing, cheating, fighting, loving, winning arguments, mothers, daughters, sprites, wayward teen girls and should-no-better-grandmothers but what about Women in Buildings (oh yes, we’ve just changed the theme, keep up) running them, or helping them run, or running in them whatever, the lack of producers, and directors shows irrefutably that change is not yet systemic. The BAZ meetings, exclusively but not pointedly are usually an all-female event, with many biscuits, and laughs. And we’re going to leave it at that. But in all seriousness, we haven’t even got started on opportunity in TV, film, short film, sketch comedy, radio, comedy circuit, music industry, artistic community, office, canteen….sigh. Glenda, just think about Glenda….for now, to raise our spirits, here’s the brilliant Josie Long & Scroobius Pip tellin’ it like it is… anybody got any biscuits? (Episode: January 14th 2015)