Caleb Spits The Dummy

30/11/2009 at 12:48 pm Leave a comment

Who would have thought when the butterfly flapped its wings at Belvoir St such a tempest in a teapot would strike, I return from a coastal scriptwriting jaunt to find the theatre world all flustered over this gender thing. Or lack-of-gender-thing, as it were. I’ve been giving this some thought between deep breaths of sea air and am glad to see the discussion didn’t just peter out. For the record, in my opinion Belvoir are doing the right thing by hosting the discussion, token gesture or not – it had to be done.

On the other hand it’s likely that whoever does win the Philip Parsons Prize will be forgotten in the wake of the self-congratulatory gesture made by whatsisname. Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s a stunt. Subtle as a toothpick in the eyeball, the real winner here is theatre PR, which has sunk to a new low. Good thing the only people who are listening are already in the industry. I doubt that regular audiences even noticed. I am glad that people are still talking though.

We all know that awards and such are simple back-pattery; so putting up a discussion titled “Where Are The Women” in this context is – dare I say a neat bit of staging – given the hoo-hah over the Company B season in 2010. I for one don’t believe for a second there is a culture of gender bias specific to the theatre world, apart from the myriad of great roles for men of course. Most of which are written by men of course. Historically women artists have had less than one percent of the opportunity men have had since theatre began. But this is 2009; women get plenty of opportunity, training and in my experience, seem to be everywhere in the arts. But I digress. Malcontent with someone moving the discussion forward, Caleb Lewis makes a melodramatic exit and if we didn’t think the award was ‘politicised’ then – we certainly do now. Nice one, genius.

Honestly, there is a clear problem with the gender imbalance, has been for years. But my reckoning is that this is a symptom of a much larger issue facing the arts on a local level and impacting the development of the industry globally. It’s called Nepotism, at it’s playing at a theatre near you.

You’ve all seen it, the same actors seem to get cast again and again. I saw it in high school, I see it on Australian television, and it’s been happening at Belvoir, the STC, and across independent theatre for years. I remember working on a show at the inaugural B Sharp Season, as a soft-centred twenty year old cutting his teeth as a production manager, after the launch party I found myself getting pissed at a barbeque with members of the now-defunct Hair Of The Dog. Good times. At one point I asked a senior member how one might get their script to be read by their crew. Upon hearing this a younger actor from the group butted it shrieking “Don’t Let Him In!”… *cue raised eyebrows*… (for the record, the person I was speaking to suggested I drop it off at the house). No subtext required though.

I could go on with a litany of examples, name names of those who benefit from the unspoken arrangement of casting, but it’s not really my point to gripe, just observe that this same principle applies across the board – in creative industries, people go with the artists they trust. This is what is really behind the gender gap. In the major companies especially, any risk must be calculated, so the ones getting the director jobs are the ones that have shown they can handle the pressure. Statistically there are less women with track records because, well, there are less women with track records, and as such, less women get given the nod, and the cycle continues. Don’t take it personal.

PS As if to prove my point; Neil Armfield will cast himself as ‘Hare’ in The Power of Yes. You heard it here first.

Entry filed under: Marketing. Tags: , , , , .

Happy Days Quickfire Lessons From a Master Of The Absurd

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Your email address is private and will not be passed on to a 3rd party.

Join 1,382 other followers

on twitter

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

contact author:


since 2009

  • 25,854 hits

%d bloggers like this: