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Women In Chicago Theater Still Outnumbered By Men, Report Says

By Kelly Bauer | February 16, 2017 10:56am
 There are more men than women working as writers and directors in Chicago's theater community.
There are more men than women working as writers and directors in Chicago's theater community.
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CHICAGO — Women in Chicago's theater world are still outnumbered by men, according to a new report.

A study found that of 250 plays from the 2015-16 season, just 25 percent were written by women, according to the industry magazine American Theatre. Only 36 percent of those 250 plays were directed by women.

Women outnumber men in Chicago theater when it comes to costuming positions, but there are more men working as company members, actors, directors and playwrights, among other roles, DePaul University grad student Kay Kron and artist Maria Schultz found.

The study also showed Chicago's female writers are more likely to write more roles for female actors. Female directors are more likely to direct work by playwrights who are women, too, according to American Theatre.

The DePaul study, which has not been released, and its findings will be discussed during showings of "Gender Breakdown." The show brings together female-identified artists to talk about Chicago's theater world, what it means to be a female artist in the city and gender disparity.

"Gender Breakdown" runs Thursday to March 19 at the Flat Iron Arts Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave. Tickets are $15 to $30. You can learn more about the show or buy tickets online.

Meanwhile, Firebrand Theater, which bills itself as "the first musical theater company committed to employing and empowering women by expanding opportunities on and off the stage," this month announced its inaugural season. Musicals will be presented at the Den Theater, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave.

"There is a void in our industry, with more actresses than actors, yet fewer roles for women. There are also statistically more women than men in our audiences," Fireside co-director Harmony France said in a news release

But "most musicals are directed by men, cast with mostly men, with stories about men," Harmony said.

"Not only do we feel a moral obligation to illuminate female artists in roles that empower them, but also a need to tailor productions to the largest demographic of theatergoers,” France said.

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