Tag Archives: playwrights

Link Roundup! – 1/8/16

Link Roundups feature articles and bits of internet goodness that our dramaturgy team digs up. If you find something you want to send our way, drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter!


Daveed Diggs (center) as Thomas Jefferson in "Hamilton." (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Daveed Diggs (center) as Thomas Jefferson in “Hamilton.” (Photo by Joan Marcus)

American Theatre published a post in support of the playwrights that a few recent casting controversies centered around, and include over 1300 signatures from artists and students across the country who share their support:

Yes, this can be a complex and nuanced discussion. Yes, we enter into those discussions with different perspectives and familiarity with the issues. Yes, the missions of educational institutions are different from those of professional theatres. It is critical, however, that we don’t let those differences and complexities keep us from acknowledging the systemic racism that afflicts our country, nor our power as storytellers and community builders to end it.


NPR highlights a recent article from The Atlantic about color-blind casting, arguing that color-conscious casting in film and television leads to a richer viewing experience:

We know that whiteness often masquerades as a kind of baseline experience without inflection or inclination in American life, and so we tend to buy the idea that progress for actors of color means a choice between roles in which their character’s race is either utterly unremarked upon (see early Grey’s Anatomy), or where race is the entire point (12 Years a Slave and other productions About RaceTM and hardship).

Of course, the backgrounds of the characters needn’t be foregrounded in every scene for it to be acknowledged. I’m thinking of Creed, the very good recent entry to the Rocky canon that doesn’t run away from the fact that the successor to the Italian Stallion is a black dude who navigates a distinctly black social setting. The same could also be said of Master of None, Aziz Ansari’s Netflix series about the life of a struggling actor in New York. The show is sometimes a straight-ahead romantic comedy, and other times it deals directly with the way being desi complicates and informs the professional and personal life of Aziz’s character. (It probably matters that both are the creations of people of color.)


 CHESHIRE ISAACS/IMPACT THEATRE GOP presidential candidate Len (played by Michael Uy Kelly) is interviewed by a cable news personality (Matthew Lai) in "Mutt," a wild satire about race and politics playing at Berkeley's Impact Theatre. ( it )

CHESHIRE ISAACS/IMPACT THEATRE GOP presidential candidate Len (played by Michael Uy Kelly) is interviewed by a cable news personality (Matthew Lai) in “Mutt,” a wild satire about race and politics playing at Berkeley’s Impact Theatre. ( it )

Impact Theatre, based in the Bay Area, has announced that they will be closing later this year:

“We’re stuck in a weird financial place because most grants require you to have an annual budget of $100,000 or more,” Hillman says. “And we can’t make enough in ticket sales to grow. All that money to grow comes from grants and donations, and when we’re doing new plays by emerging playwrights in a basement with pizza and beer, our audience always skews really young, and those people just don’t have a lot of money. That was the audience we wanted, that was the audience we went for, and that was part of the whole point of keeping ticket prices accessible.”


The Nonprofit with Balls blog has some good reminders about how the term equity, while a great goal to strive for, can easily be watered down and turned into another meaningless buzzword:

At this early stage in the development of equity as a mainstream concept, the dissonance is understandable. We are all still trying to grasp what equity is and what it means for our field. But there are too many instances of dissonance out there that if we don’t stop to reflect, there is danger of “Equity” doing more harm than good, since it can lull us into a false sense of security. True equity requires us not to just throw around concepts at summits and sprinkle terminologies on websites and strategic plans, but to reevaluate our beliefs and practices and definitions and board and staff composition and leadership and hiring practice and funding allocation processes and who is at the table and who set the table in the first place, etc. It requires us to change our ways of doing things.

#StaffChat: The Jubilee

#StaffChat posts feature issues, articles, and news that the C1 team discusses as part of our weekly all-staff meeting. We’d love to hear your thoughts too — hit us up on Facebook or Twitter!


This week our staff is examining The Jubilee — an initiative inviting theatres across the country to commit to producing only plays written by women, people of color, LGBTQA individuals, and writers with disabilities during the 2020–21 season.

Here are a few of the articles we’re talking about this week:

In the first HowlRound post, the committee of The Jubilee lays out their vision for the future of American theatre, along with quotes from some of the artists that are involved in the initiative. Aditi Kapil, the Playwright-In-Residence at Mixed Blood Theatre and a former C1 playwright, thinks about the intention of the project like this:

It’s like we’ve all been hanging out at this party and one guy keeps talking and talking, and now it’s 2020 (8:20 p.m. in this metaphor) and we decide that, just for a minute, everyone else is going to say stuff, respond, talk to each other, change the subject, whatever. And that goes on for a minute. And then it’s 2021. How might the conversation have shifted or evolved? And what happens now that we’re all talking? Because that’s generally when the party gets good, right? That’s what I wonder about. A lot.


The companies that have already taken the Jubilee pledge are listed on HowlRound, but the invitation is still open to anyone who wants to join. Participants are invited to a weekly conference call to talk about how the project is going, but it’s worth noting that no one will be monitoring the companies that sign on or making sure each season fits the project’s goals — Jamie Gahlon explains this idea further in American Theatre:

“Right now, the role of the Jubilee committee is really to help amplify the fact that that institution has made the pledge,” says Jamie Gahlon, senior creative producer of HowlRound and Jubilee committee member. The 39 theatres who have signed on so far “are joining this huge national block party that we are having, more or less,” says Gahlon. “I think the responsibility for following through on the pledge and figuring out specifically what it means to that theatre or that community really falls on the person who has signed on. I don’t think anyone on this committee wants to be policing any of that, we don’t feel like that is our role.”

This announcement has stirred up quite a bit of conversation online, with lots of questions being raised, as well as a fair amount of negative response from people who feel the initiative is exclusionary. In response to criticism Catherine Castellani posted a follow up on HowlRound:

I’ve read responses to Jubilee that actually state that systemic sexism/racism is OK because no one flat out comes out and says No “You People” Allowed. You’re free to say it; that’s your right. But the rest of America is not going away. You get to choose your response to change. You can attack your fellow artists, or you can do something else—something positive and worthwhile.

You don’t have to be an ally. But don’t be an enemy.

We’re going to spend some time talking about a few of the questions raised in response to Jubilee at the upcoming staff meeting. Here’s a few to get us started in advance:

  • — If C1 were to take the Jubilee pledge, how would our 2020/2021 season look different from our usual seasons?
  • — How would theatre in Boston be different if C1 joined Jubilee?
  • — What artists would you want to see produced in a Jubilee year?
  • — Jubilee specifically focus on the identity of playwrights — how do you think that does or does not change the conversation about equity in theatre?

Link Roundup! – 10/17/15

Link Roundups feature articles and bits of internet goodness that our dramaturgy team digs up. If you find something you want to send our way, drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter!


The Colonial Theatre, BU Theatre and the Shubert Theatre. (Blng/Flickr, BU Today, Citi Performing Arts Center)

The Colonial Theatre, BU Theatre and the Shubert Theatre. (Blng/Flickr, BU Today, Citi Performing Arts Center)

The ARTery’s Ed Siegel has a good breakdown of the recent space shake-up in Boston:

Although every situation is different, Walsh needs to step into Menino’s shoes and make sure that the energy and commitment that Menino put in place is not diminished. This is more than a matter of helping large institutions. Without the Huntington’s stewardship of the Calderwood, the SpeakEasy Stage Company would not have grown from a small theater to such an important midsize one. Company One Theatre would probably not have grown from the fringe to one of the best theaters in Boston. As Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Boston Foundation’s Paul Grogan and the Barr Foundation’s James Canales have said, there is an ecology to an arts scene. And the health of large institutions is important to small ones as well.


Playwright Annie Baker (THE FLICK, THE ALIENS) joined Mark Maron on his WTF podcast this week to talk about her writing process and the state of the American theatre. It’s a great listen — check it out!

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Poolside Politics: A Conversation with Ruby Rae Spiegel


Playwright Ruby Rae Spiegel and Dramaturg Jessie Baxter recently took some time to chat about the driving force behind Dry Land’s inception and why it’s important to tell teen stories.

JESSIE: What was your inspiration for writing this play?

RUBY: It was a couple things — there was this article that I read called “The Rise of the DIY Abortion” in the New Republic, and that really got the ball rolling in my head. When I work, I usually pair a piece of journalism with my own experience, and I had also helped a friend through, not an abortion, but something similar and quite difficult. That was a very profound experience for me, so that plus the article got me thinking about women’s bodies and friendship, and how those intersect in these times of crisis. Buy Generic Cialis http://www.healthfirstpharmacy.net/cialis.html

Did you swim as a teen?

Yeah, I was a swimmer on a team in middle school, but I actually wasn’t very athletic. I quit right when flip-turns became a thing, because I was just too scared. I wasn’t a very good swimmer, but I was a very good pianist. I played piano for 11 years of my life, until I was 15, and I worked really hard at that. So I kind of paired those two experiences together. With piano, I internally pushed myself a lot and worked really hard from a young age, and I think that’s something that young athletes have a lot experience with.

Swimming is also an interesting choice for the play because even though it’s a team sport, it’s still a very solitary activity.

R: Absolutely, swimming has this divide where you might be working together on a relay race or something, but it’s really your body alone in the pool. I remember hearing the gun go off, and you just go into your zone. My other interest in talking about swimming and athletes was that we hear a lot about girls being tough on their bodies because of media images, and I was interested in exploring that and eating disorders, but from a different angle — where someone is really pushing their body and obsessed with perfection, but in a way that doesn’t have to do with beauty standards.

I’m interested in your choice to focus on the teen girl experience. How did you approach these characters?

The dialogue just sort of flowed for me, I think because I’m so close to those ages. In high school I wrote a play about middle school, and in college I wrote a play about high school…I like to write when I have a bit of perspective, but maybe not too much perspective, that I start to narrativize an experience. Something that I get frustrated with is that you see a lot portrayals of teenagers where there’s a really simple way that they draw it back to the parenting. If a teen has an issue, it’s because they have this certain kind of home or something, and that has always felt like it doesn’t give teenagers enough credit. They have their own issues because they’re people, they’re not just products of their environment or their parents, though those are obviously a big part of it. It felt really important to me to make them teenagers dealing with a problem that’s political and immediate. I was interested in going to that really hot space and trying to find empathy and truth and specificity with it, because every teenage abortion story is specific and has to do with specific people. It just felt very important to me to make them high schoolers.

We’ve spoken a lot as a production team about how this play is ultimately a story of friendship, and how two people who begin as strangers grow close after sharing an intense experience. Can you speak to that?

I’m really drawn to unlikely friendship stories, and so I started with the character of Amy and I thought, she’s very guarded, she has a lot of friends, but — and I think this is very common with young women who are guarded — she doesn’t want to reach out to her closest friends with an issue, because she doesn’t want that kind of institutional memory of this experience. That’s why I included Reba, as a way to show that Amy has people, and decided not to reach out to them. So that was part of the unlikely friendship story for me: for Amy to be truly vulnerable, she had to be with somebody who didn’t know her at all. I also think female friendship has to be portrayed more. People are really hungry for honest stories — stories without parents, stories about women without boys or men. Taking away these elements shows a female experience that is a huge part of a lot of women’s lives and just isn’t represented very much. Also, in doing that, you don’t get the trope of two super close girlfriends chatting, but two autonomous individuals trying to understand each other and trying to get something done. I was interested in something where the people are quite different, but through a difficult experience find common ground. Tramadol online http://kendallpharmacy.com/tramadol.html

One of the things I love about the play is that you so deftly weave all these various “issues” into the text without it feeling like an “issue play.” How did you decide what to include and what to leave out about what’s going on in the lives of these characters?

I know that I have a minimalist style and I’m very allergic to cliche, so that makes me go to these hot spots where I say, “Okay, I’m gonna do a play that deals with abortion, female friendships, eating disorders, alienation…all of these issues.” That works well for me because I tend to want to tell the least amount of information that I can. Nobody is going to be like, “Oh, an audience is here, so I’m just going to tell you about myself.” So for myself it’s about working with this tension where I have all the information I have to convey, but the challenge of how to do it realistically and without cliche. There’s also the fact that you see a lot of one-issue things, but nobody lives a one-issue life. We have so many intersecting concerns and problems, and so even though it might seem like a lot — tackling somebody with an eating disorder, suicide, somebody who’s going through an abortion — that just really rings true to my life and my experiences. You don’t categorize people like that when they’re real people, so it was a challenge I was interested in representing.

Toward the end of the play, Amy muses a little about what her life might be like as an adult. Can you talk about that moment and the importance of voicing her potential future?

I think that that was a really important moment for me. There was this piece in Elle that actually said it quite beautifully — that the play is about going through an abortion, but also about getting through it and resiliency. So I think that moment is showing that you’re not branded by your experiences, no matter how much that seems to be the case. In this day and age, when there’s so much stigma around things that women go through, I wanted to show that even though Amy is not a perfect person, she’s a resilient person. There are a lot of people in this country who think that that self-abortion is a sin, so there’s a lot going against her, and so the fact that she believes in herself is a really important part of the play.

How did current cultural discussions and depictions of abortion narratives impact the way you approached the play?

It’s easy to be reticent about putting one of these stories out there because there are so few of them. Sometimes I was afraid that this story would become one of the few, and people would take it as a representation of the whole, whereas I just wanted to show that there are so many different kinds of specific abortion stories. So the more media that was coming out, the more excited I was, and the less of a burden I felt about portraying a perfect abortion story — whatever that is. I also did some research and set the play in central Florida, where the closest Planned Parenthood to where I imagine the characters live had been bombed several times in the past ten years. I also wanted to draw attention to the fact that in many states somebody like Ester would be criminalized — it’s criminal behavior to aid somebody in a medical abortion. So all of this was circling around the play, and I absorbed a bit of it, but I also wanted to shut some of it out so that I could make these characters not be representations of the whole, but specific women going through something that I felt was a very true experience.

We had a few women from the Boston Doula Project come speak to our cast, and a big thing we took away from that conversation was that nobody has the same experience with abortion, it is very individual and specific.

I think that’s huge to talk about. I was really interested in trying to take the play out of the pro-life vs. pro-choice conversation, to try and talk about how it is hard, but a lot of things are hard, and there can be resiliency. It isn’t a perfect thing, but it also isn’t necessarily this kind of horrifying, scarring experience. There are just so many difficult experiences that we all go through — someone’s parents getting divorced could be a lot worse than their abortion, or somebody’s friend getting ill could be more difficult. I think it’s really important to talk about how it is a difficult experience, but that it shouldn’t be stigmatized.

Do you consider this a political play?

Yes, I do. There are other representations of abortion that are more like documentary theatre, or about protestors or abortion doctors, and that kind of story is usually labelled as more political. It’s important to me to label it a political play, even though they talk about boys and their hair or whatever. Those things can coexist; a story about female friendship that includes an abortion is just as political as documentary theatre piece on abortion providers.

Link Roundup! – 6/12/15

Link Roundups feature articles and bits of internet goodness that our dramaturgy team digs up. If you find something you want to send our way, drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter!


Fun Home, the musical based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel of the same name, won big at this year’s Tony Awards. It was a solid night for women in general this year, with women winning in almost every category they were nominated in, as noted by FiveThirtyEight:


Lisa Kron’s acceptance speech for winning Best Book (Fun Home), which was frustratingly not aired on the live telecast, spoke to the variety in this year’s Broadway season. Her fantastic speech is below and well worth watching:


The pool party in McKinney, Texas that resulted in another viral video showing the police force’s unnecessary use of violence is a potent reminder of the fraught history behind public swimming pools:

Campaigns by civil rights groups like the NAACP to integrate public pools often turned very, very ugly. “Groups for and against segregation threw rocks and tomatoes at one another, swung bats and fists, and even stabbed and shot at each other,” Wiltse wrote. Even after Brown v. Board of Education ostensibly desegregated America’s schools in 1955, a federal judge sided with Baltimore’s pro-segregation argument that pools “were more sensitive than schools.” (That decision was later overturned.)

 When the group of white and black integrationists refused to leave the motel's pool, this man dived in and cleared them out. All were arrested. Horace Cort/AP

When the group of white and black integrationists refused to leave the motel’s pool, this man dived in and cleared them out. All were arrested. Horace Cort/AP

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BCA PlayLab: What We’re Reading – Vol. 2

The 2015 BCA PlayLab is coming to a close in a few short weeks. Here are a few pieces of writing that we think is worth checking out as we wrap up the program. Let us know what you think on Facebook or Twitter!


We’ve been talking a lot about work/life balance as a writer, as well as best practices for maximizing opportunities to connect with potential collaborators during the past couple PlayLab sessions — here are a few more articles that touch on similar topics. (As a reminder, the links we share aren’t necessarily endorsements, but are a great jumping off point for discussion.)

End of year advice from our writers – The Playwrights’ Center

“1. Always write the play you’d actually go see.
2. It’s okay to write in the style of your hero. After all, your hero ripped off his/her style from somebody else too. But don’t tell the same stories as your hero. Yours are way better.
3. The week-long retreat in the woods culminating in the staged reading is great, but don’t wait or rely on it to hear your play read. Call some actors, find a room, print some scripts, and get it going. Do this until you run out of favors or until the week-long retreat people finally invite you.”
—Core Writer Idris Goodwin

Having Kids: Worst Idea, or Worst Idea Ever? – Bitter Gertrude

I’ve been asked many times about how I made parenting and a life in the theatre work. The sad truth is, there’s no magic formula that will make those early parenting years less difficult, but the happy truth is, it goes by in a blink. Your life as an artist will last decades, and your kids will only need direct supervision for 15ish years. It’s over before you know it. I know that’s not much consolation to people with a screaming baby who somehow have to teach three classes and rehearse for four hours on 37 minutes of sleep, but believe me, it’s true. Your screaming baby will be 15 and able to come home, do his homework, make his dinner, take a shower, and get himself to bed at a reasonable hour sooner than you think. It will be bittersweet, but it will happen.

Melissa Hillman and her son Jonah, May 2001

Playwright Melissa Hillman and her son Jonah, May 2001

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Link Roundup! – 5/29/15

Link Roundups feature articles and bits of internet goodness that our dramaturgy team digs up. If you find something you want to send our way, drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter!


(Pew Research Center)

(Pew Research Center)

This CityLab article about The Failures and Merits of Place-Based Initiatives examines how community development programs aren’t always helping to reduce urban poverty:

Is it time to kick programs like Promise Zones and Choice Neighborhoods to the curb? Are these place-based initiatives, which funnel streams of resources to neighborhoods of concentrated poverty and racial segregation, futile in the face of rapidly expanding wealth gaps? Yes and yes, says Occidental College urban studies scholar Peter Dreier. In “The Revitalization Trap,” a column for the National Housing Institute’s Shelterforce blog that Dreier wrote earlier this month,  he argues that organizations focused on community development have “fallen into the trap of focusing on revitalizing low-income neighborhoods, without challenging the corporate and political forces that create economic inequality and widespread poverty.”


This interview with playwright Katori Hall is an interesting look into her writing process:

Everybody is influenced by who they are and unfortunately how other people perceive them to be. And race is a perception. It’s not even a true thing. It is truly a mental construct but because it is this idea that is made very real due to other people’s actions and reactions toward you it’s obviously going to inspire your work. It’s going to make you mad enough to write. And sometimes it makes you mad enough to not write. (laughs) And to go out and march. It’s just part of living as a female artist of color.


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Link Roundup! – 3/27/15

Link Roundups feature articles and bits of internet goodness that our dramaturgy team digs up. If you find something you want to send our way, drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter!


Peter Friedman, Danny McCarthy, Michael Countryman, Hannah Bos and Carolyn McCormick in "The Open House" by Will Eno at Signature Theatre. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Peter Friedman, Danny McCarthy, Michael Countryman, Hannah Bos and Carolyn McCormick in “The Open House” by Will Eno at Signature Theatre. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

In American Theatre, Issac Butler writes about several contemporary playwrights who are taking the traditional realistic living room family drama and turning it on its head:

In the current crop of anti-realist plays are Eno’s The Open House and Jacobs-Jenkins’s Appropriate, both mounted last season at New York City’s Signature Theater, and Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men, a recent critical success at the Public Theater. Next season, Taylor Mac’s Hir will have its East Coast debut at Playwrights Horizons. All these plays simultaneously deploy and subvert various tropes of the genre: difficult fathers, family secrets, eccentric mothers, a compressed time scheme, money worries—and, well, white people.

They’re also all set in and around living rooms, the most common and persistent setting in contemporary American theatre.

While it can be frustrating to walk into a theatre and see yet another couch in front of yet another television three feet away from yet another cluttered bookshelf, the ubiquity of this setting isn’t hard to understand. After all, the living room’s history and linguistic roots intersect with American theatre’s primary concerns. “Living room” is simply the American term for the parlor, whose name derives from the French parler, to talk. It is figuratively, then, a space for talking. Parlors are also a middle-class (or, if you must, bourgeois) invention, much like the theatres that regularly reproduce them onstage.


Jason Tseng, the Community Engagement Specialist at Fractured Atlas, has a compelling essay up at Medium about LA’s 99-seat Theatre Plan and the issue of funding for small companies:

The top 3% of arts organizations by budget size ($10M and above) received 60% of all arts and culture funding. Conversely, the bottom half of organizations by budget size ($100k and below) received only 5% of that funding.

Not only is this deeply problematic from a purely class perspective, Holly also notes that this wealth gap disproportionately effects racial and ethnic minority communities, as well as other oppressed groups. This phenomenon is also not limited to the U.S. In fact, a similar report out of Britain cautioned that drastic changes to arts funding need to occur in order to avoid a “cultural apartheid.”

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BCA PlayLab: What We’re Reading

The dramaturgy team will be periodically posting updates and highlights from the 2015 BCA PlayLab in the coming months. Follow along and let us know what you think on Facebook or Twitter!


In the weeks following our first BCA PlayLab meeting, we’ve been collecting articles and essays pertinent to playwriting and life as a writer that we wanted to share with the group. The articles we share aren’t necessarily endorsements, but are a great jumping off point for discussion — here are a few to kick things off:

The Most Successful Creative People Constantly Say ‘No’ – Business Insider

No matter what you read, no matter what they claim, nearly all creators spend nearly all their time on the work of creation. There are few overnight successes and many up-all-night successes. Saying “no” has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined. No guards time, the thread from which we weave our creations. The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know.

An artist compiled all her rejections in an ‘anti-resume.’ Here’s what can be learned from failure – The Washington Post

So the anti-resumé remains my deceptively simple answer to the question, ‘How do you do it?’: that I persisted during all those years of rejection for no other reason than that I loved writing so much I wanted to spend all my time doing it. Writing must be its own reward, even for the most talented and hardworking writers, or they’re going to have a tough time.

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Link Roundup! – 3/13/15

Link Roundups feature articles and bits of internet goodness that our dramaturgy team digs up. If you find something you want to send our way, drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter!


Playwright Bess Wohl at the Abrons Arts Center Playhouse. Photo: Cassandra Giraldo for The Wall Street Journal

Playwright Bess Wohl at the Abrons Arts Center Playhouse. Photo: Cassandra Giraldo for The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal has an article up about playwrights who write for film and television, examining the way it allows for a more sustainable income than theatre:

In the nonprofit theater, playwrights like Ms. Wohl earn income from grants, commissions and in some cases fees from regional and international productions of their work. Only for a small handful does this accumulate to a living wage.

In TV, on the other hand, a complex system of generous minimums is in place to determine compensation for writers, whose salaries and fees vary based on a variety of factors, including a show’s length and where it is being broadcast or streamed.


The Guardian takes a look at childcare and parent-friendly practices in theatre with their article “Parents in the arts need to stage a childcare revolution”: 

Of course it’s not just women who are affected by such responsibilities. But perhaps one of the reasons that there are fewer female theatre directors sustaining longer-term careers is that it’s hard to juggle family and directing. Plenty of women set out to be directors, but then when children come along, it is far harder to keep going alongside caring responsibilities which still often fall primarily upon women…Maybe that explains why only 29% of directors in big theatres are female.

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