Saturday, January 09, 2010

There's A Woman At The Piano!

A recent project that has come across my "desk" has once again stirred up my ire about the disparity in opportunities for women in the arts. I was asked to think of living female musical theatre/composer lyricists that would perhaps like to have their work showcased in NYC and after rambling off a few names, I soon came up dry.

Many moons ago I posted about the imbalance of female directors in Hollywood. I don't know why I should be surprised by the same irksome fact about women in the theatre arts. According to 50/50 in 2020: Parity for Women Theatre Artists, female playwrights, directors and designers receive only 20% of professional production opportunities nationwide. Sadly, this is not surprising. Testosterone still dominates on Broadway, with the big three, The Shubert Organzation, Nederlander and Jujamcyn, helmed by men. Without getting on a soap box, I will simply say that as a female theatre artist, I certainly hope that the male/female ratio on Broadway does reach 50/50 in 2020. Much can happen in 10 years, that is for certain.

So, back to the task at hand. Below is the list of female composer/lyricists that I was able to come up with. Have you got any to add to the list? Surely there are more female musical theatre composer/lyricists with a story to tell. Let's make sure that their story is heard!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Rising From The Ashes

Today is the first day of a new decade. Today is also my birthday and, thusly, the beginning of my 41st year (or, depending on perspective, the beginning of my 42nd year).

Last year was difficult. And I'm not going to lie, I'm happy to see it end. I worked hard and I was let down hard. I made friends and I lost friends. It was a year of accepting truths - about myself, about my relationships, about my illness and about my aspirations. For me, 2009 was not only the last year of the decade but the end of a significant chapter in my life.

After my most recent blog post, the following T.S. Eliot quote appeared as the Facebook status of TBTA's future leader: “For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice.”

At first, I took it very personally. Last year, I spoke words in a language that will soon become obsolete. This year, a new voice will speak new words, in a new language. With one single quote, I felt both hurt and dismissed, as though all of my contributions were for naught.

Appended to the end of the quote from "Little Gidding II" was a fragment from a different T.S. Eliot quote: "And to make an end is to make a beginning."

Now, T.S. Eliot holds a special place in my heart. As a child, my father read to me from Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (before Andrew Lloyd Webber got his hands on it). As a student, I explored the deeply complex world of T.S. Eliot, most specifically The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and The Waste Land.

Of course, I know that my friend's usage of this quote was more likely predicated by the onset of the New Year rather than as a personal affront to me. However, despite its intent, I choose to use that quote, in its entirety, to begin the next chapter of my story: "What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from."

Much like the Seneca quote in my previous post, T.S. Eliot purports that without an ending there cannot be a beginning. Endings are hard and often sad but they are, indeed, where we start from. Beginnings are exhilarating.

From the ashes rises the Phoenix and, as such, I am proud and excited to announce that, in collaboration with B. Peter Hughes and Joseph Russo, a new theatre company is being born. TheStage Repertory Company, devoted to championing new and lesser known theatre, will spread its wings in 2010.

TheStage Rep will begin producing theatre for our community in Spring 2010 and will announce our inaugural season in February 2010.

Join us, won't you? Because beginnings are, indeed, exhilarating.