Friday, February 8, 2013

International Center for Women Playwrights Announces New 50/50 Applause Awards

Applause Awards Logo
Applause Awards Logo
The International Center for Women Playwrights (ICWP)  has announced a new awards program for theatre companies that are achieving gender parity by producing seasons where 50% or more of the plays are written by women.  Five U.S. companies have been selected to receive the new "50/50 Applause Awards" for their 2011-12 seasons: Cleveland Public Theatre, Cleveland, OH; Little Colonel Theatre, Pee Wee Vally, KY; Nora Theater, Cambridge,MA; Playwrights Horizons, New York, NY; and, Symmetry Theatre, Berkeley, CA.

For the past 25 years, the International Center for Women Playwrights has worked to support women playwrights and draw attention to their work.  They are strong supporters of the 50/50 in 2020 movement, a grassroots effort which recognizes the current discrimination against women in theatre and seeks gender parity (50% women playwrights and directors in every theatre) by the year 2020.

The 50/50 Applause Awards are designed to recognize and reward the theatre companies who are achieving gender parity now instead of just talking about it. In announcing these new awards, Dr Jennifer Munday, President of ICWP,  said that “these companies need special thanks for the integrity of their decision-making.” The creation of these awards is part of the ICWP's 25th birthday celebration.

In recent years, there has been much discussion and research about the fact that women playwrights are underrepresented in staged theatrical productions. In 2009, Emily Glassberg Sands released astudy called “Opening the Curtain on Playwright Gender” which showed that only 18% of the productions done in the United States in 2008 were by female playwrights. She also found that “only 11% of shows on Broadway over the past decade [1999-2009] were written exclusively by women.” WomenArts has a web-page with links to this and several other U.S. studies at:

Research from other countries has demonstrated similar imbalances. Last year, Lyn Gardner of the UK stated “. . . of the 57 productions in the West End and the fringe that might be considered plays (rather than musicals or physical work), only six are written by women”. In Canada, Rebecca Burton and Reina Green reported that 30-35% of the nation’s artistic directors were female in 2006.

The cumulative financial impact of this discrimination on women is huge. If women can't get their plays produced, they also miss out on publication of their scripts, book sales, further productions and royalties, as well as commissions, residences and travel opportunities.

To qualify for the ICWP’s  50/50 Applause Awards, the companies had to produce women playwrights in both 50% of their productions and 50% of their total performances in their 2011-2012 season. Since the goal was to encourage more theatres to strive for gender parity, theaters that already included producing women playwrights in their mission were not eligible.

Nominations for the next round of awards will begin in March 2013. For full information about the nomination and selection process, please visit:

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