Women Taking the Initiative

Susan Cinoman

OnStage Connecticut Columnist

It’s always a good thing to take the initiative. Without waiting for someone else to do it for you, have the courage and the fortitude to get something going for yourself. Stop complaining when opportunities pass you by, and don’t cry when you’re not discovered among the throngs. Do it yourself! In the case of the Women’s Play Initiative at the Ivoryton Playhouse, that is exactly what they did.

The Executive and Artistic Director, Jacqui Hubbard and her Director of Play Development, Laura Copland had a conversation about providing a safe, nurturing environment for women playwrights to workshop their plays. With the enthusiastic support of the board of the Ivoryton Playhouse, the Women Playwright’s Initiative was born, with readings of four one-acts on March 3 and 4, 2017 at the historic, professional theater: the Ivoryton Playhouse, in Connecticut. I asked Laura some questions about the festival which features plays by women writers around the country.

Q.   Why did you feel the need to highlight plays by women in particular? Did our current political climate figure into your thinking? 

A.Women provide so many roles in American society. We assume the roles often without too much introspection—caregiver, educator, boss, employee, companion, lover, interpreter, thinker, artist. Their perspectives need to be encouraged to be articulated. Playwrights put characters in situations and allow us to see them act and react. As a public we need to see characters from a woman’s perspective. It was of course interesting to have the first woman candidate for president in a major political party, but I have long been interested in supporting women playwrights.

Q. Do you think that women have something to say that is different than men when it comes to their plays? Will audiences be interested in what women have to say on stage? 

A.Every playwright has something unique to offer simply because people have different experiences and values. People are interested in good theater. If the play is good, people will want to see it. 

Q. Why is it that so many plays seem to be written by men? Our greatest American playwrights seem to be men, at least the ones we know and study. Why do you think that is, especially when statistically women above the age of 40 comprise the highest number of ticket buyers on Broadway now, according to a recent statistic?

A. This might be a question better put to playwrights—to talk about their encouragement or lack thereof. But I think maybe women take themselves for granted. Traditionally, women buy tickets to shows they think their husbands and male partners want to see.  We need to encourage women playwrights, so that we get used to seeing plays by women. 

Q. Based on the plays by women you read, what are women writing about? Are they writing within one genre more than another? Can you make a generalization? 

A.The plays covered every topic imaginable—identity, power and powerlessness, money, health, love, aging, beauty, sex, sexuality, politics, revenge, societal mores, dating, motherhood, the military, insanity, despair, friendship. They touched on everything under the sun. They were full of wit, passion, humor, and deep, deep feeling.

Q. Are women as entertaining as men in their plays? Does the fact that women have been socialized differently than men, at least in the past, make their writing more or less engaging than the writing of men? 

A. Human beings are interesting. Good writing is always engaging. We need more opportunities for more women to write, and write, and write some more.  Here are our playwrights and we are so excited! Come join us!