Sexism Watch: Steinberg Playwright Awards

by Melissa Silverstein on September 18, 2009

in Awards,Theatre

It’s not enough to have clear statistics about how women are discriminated in theatre, but now a new award — The Steinberg Playwright Awards — given to “emerging” playwrights has decided that there is no woman good enough to qualify as emerging.


This is a brand spanking new award and while the committee (which included several women) couldn’t decide the definition of “emerging” (is it a person right out of school, or a person who is mid-career) they easily decided that no woman qualifies.

It’s not like this award is $2,500.  There is some serious money — $25,000 and $50,000 — and prestige attached.  I don’t know how people can sit in a room and give out awards and be ok with not including a woman, especially in light of the recent statistics showing how discriminated women playwrights are.

Trust Tussles Over Playwright Award Eligibility
(NY Times)

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist September 18, 2009 at 10:51 AM

wow, that’s dumb, they couldn’t select ONE female?

And I can’t believe (re: the article) they think a playwright is still “emerging” after 10 years of succeess. ARE THEY JOKING ME? If they want a true definition of an “EMERGING PLAYWRIGHT,” they can just look at ME. I’ve never had a play produced by a major theatre company and for years, I’ve been struggling to get my play off the ground. This year, my dream came true and my play is getting a modest 3 week London run, produced by an independent/Off-West End theatre company at a modest black-box theatre surrounded by major West End theatres. I’m trying as hard to promote my play, but we don’t have enough money for aggressive marketing.

Those people are idiots and really have no f–king idea what a real “emerging playwright” is.

Maura McHugh September 18, 2009 at 12:15 PM

Melissa, quite a lot recently I feel like I’m living in a different reality than men. I guess that’s because I am.

It’s completely representative that one of the playwrights should have been a woman. It’s not tokenism, it’s just the law of averages.

Again, a lot of people don’t seem to *see* the problem. Even women.

Susan Jonas September 18, 2009 at 2:36 PM

I was horrified but did you also notice there was only ONE woman ont he committee> ARe there no women incolved in new play development? Producing? It’s insane. I wanted to say we have no updated statistics on women in theatre, but the League of Professional Theatre Women is taking it on and we will start the research in stages even as we look for partners and funding to institutionalize this so we can monitor progress or lack thereof. (The recently released undergraduate thesis by Emily Sands turned out to have pretty inaccurate information, by the wy.) I also want to encourage anyone who gives a damn, male or female, to join the 50/50 by 2020 Facebook page. We are looking to create vast alliances among arts and non arts groups to focus on achieving parity — not in another century, which is what it would take at this rate in theater — but in one deacde — the anniversary of getting the vote. Working groups, events, etc. will be posted, so join in. Susan Jonas, League of Professional Theatre Women

Barbara Masry September 20, 2009 at 10:14 PM

There’s an iron scrim that prevents us from getting our work read by a number of prominent theater companies. They require an agent or “professional recommendation” before considering our work. When we read in the Times of wonderful groups seeking to help “emerging playwrights,” they, too, only want writers with a pedigree, those who have been mentored by university or theater directors. I’ve proposed to the Dramatists Guild that we form an alliance with dramaturgs,to promote the best of women’s work, but the dramaturgs aren’t interested. Even producing our own work and filling the house doesn’t get the press to come. It’s a major struggle.

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Sexism Watch: Steinberg Playwright Awards

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