Valerie Williams | Breakout Session
"Work Harder Not Smarter: Broadway tells Female Playwrights"
About this session: While there are many ways to define success in the theatre industry, playing on Broadway provides a ‘leap in media exposure, audience awareness and potential awards recognition.’ The average citizen in the United States looks to Broadway theatres to provide the best live theatre has to offer. For these reasons, the plays chosen for production in the coveted houses should reflect all people creating theatre and living in the US. However, Broadway remains the playground of white males, despite a decade of discussion and concerted effort in research and advocacy to increase equal representation. A review of the Broadway productions from the last five completed seasons reveals the disparities that remain on Broadway. Only 14% original plays are written by women. The number of roles for men are almost double the roles for women in Broadway plays. Analysis of the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 Broadway seasons demonstrates that regardless of their awards and recognition, to reach Broadway, female playwrights must work in the theatre industry longer and universalize their themes, then accept a system rigged to ensure their plays won’t gross as much as plays by men. Knowledge of these specific areas of inequality will aid the movement towards gender parity in Broadway theatre.
Valerie Williams is a second-year graduate student in the Master of Fine Arts in Directing program at Baylor University where she directed Dead Accounts by Theresa Rebeck this summer. Before that Valerie was a company member with Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, Minnesota, serving as Education Director and Grants Writer. For nine years she led the Winona Senior High School drama program as director and designer. Previously, Valerie worked as an AEA stage manager with Illusion and Mixed Blood theatres in Minneapolis, MN, and with Theatre du Mississippi in Winona, MN. In the last year, Valerie has presented at Texas Educational Theatre, Mid-America Theatre, Comparative Drama, and Association for Theatre in Higher Education conferences. Valerie’s research on women in theatre received a Debut Scholar award and was published in the Texas Theatre Journal.