Fail, Raise Your Voice and Take Up Space: Game-Changing Women On How to Change the Industry

News   Fail, Raise Your Voice and Take Up Space: Game-Changing Women On How to Change the Industry
As part of's Women in Theatre Week, we look back at some of the inspiring women who have been profiled in the ongoing series A Woman's World, sharing their candid thoughts on sexism, gender parity in the industry and remaining true to their craft.



Pam MacKinnon on Why Feminist Issues From The Heidi Chronicles Speak to Audiences Today

"I don't think it's a dated play in any way, shape or form. I wish it were dated more than it is, but it does feel like the issues of today and fulfilling your potential and having it all — there's this complicated psychology of being a woman as well as the sociology of making your way in your own career and thoughts of family — are still very, very current in our country." Read more here

  Lisa Kron on Struggling With Ambition and Creation 

"Men are often given opportunities based on their potential, and women are given opportunities based on their accomplishments. The only way to learn how to do theatre is to do theatre. [How can that happen?] And, if you don't give young women chances, if you don't let women develop their work... It's hard for women dealing with ambition who think one thing as being feminine and one thing as being masculine. I see women who can't even picture that they don't need to become men to be artists. There is a holistic way of women being integrated. [Fun Home] has built into its DNA that sense of integration." Read the complete interview


Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron
Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Jeanine Tesori on Motivating Young Girls to Have Pride in Their Voices 

"A life of compromise works through a generation, especially for women who raise compromised girls who won't admit they don't know how to feed themselves to work. Ambition, adventure, exploration. They hold that and wait. And you can't harvest and wait. You must hunger and you must admit that you hunger. You admit that you take up size in the room and you're not filled with shame when you feel like you've talked too much. As my father would say, 'Everyone lower their voices one octave or I'm going to leave this room.' He raised four girls, and he couldn't stand our shrill voices... You shouldn't have to shape shift yourself in order to be digestible for others so you're not too much for others." Tesori elaborates on the subject here


Marsha Norman On Women Being Forced to Choose Between Family and Career

"What we really have to do is get into the control center — how the choices are made — and make it clear and obvious and happily accepted that the work of women is breathtaking and needs to be done. The load of bearing the child — that choice is impossible to have to make. If somebody said to you in advance, 'Do you want to have children or be a playwright? [what would you say]?... The demands are simply so much more difficult for women in those early childbearing years — year zero to the time they get to school. Those six years are impossible enough...This is not a choice people should have to make. Men don't have to make this choice, and women shouldn't have to make this choice either." Read the complete interview with Norman


Ruthie Ann Miles on How the Quietest Woman Can Be the Most Powerful 

"I went in [to my audition] and [Bartlett Sher] was like, 'Stop. What are you doing? Lady Thiang is Hillary Clinton. Lady Thiang is Imelda Marcos. Lady Thiang rules this roost, except she doesn't say a word. Think of it that way: Her head is always down. Her eyes are always lowered. But her ears are always going. And she may be the smartest person in the room, but she'll never open her mouth and tell you that...' The more we got to dig into this — in a different kind of way than what I envisioned it to be — I started to realize that she's the ultimate feminist. She doesn't have a horn. She doesn't have a flag. She doesn't raise her voice. It's the most intriguing and powerful thing that I've had the chance to play." Learn more about Miles' interpretation of Lady Thiang


Ruthie Ann Miles and Kelli O'Hara
Ruthie Ann Miles and Kelli O'Hara Photo by Paul Kolnik

Kelli O'Hara on the Many Faces of Feminism

"I think there are a lot of things going on and a lot of women are writing things, a lot of women want to direct. I think it's really about opening eyes. And, really, it's about understanding. It's not about going to say, 'I deserve to be as good as you do!' Of course, we do. But that's not working. It hasn't worked. What works is, 'I understand who you are. And I love you for it.' Playing that game. Then you get in and change starts to happen.

"We've got to get out of each other's ways. We blame men a lot. But we spend way too much time worrying about the other person. One thing I'm discovering as I get older [is] we're apples and oranges. We're not the same. There's room for all of us. We all think... there's only room for a couple. But life is like this. Go parallel. And encourage others. It's fun to have people with you if you're trying to get to the top. It's lonely at the top, they say. That's the wrong top, in my opinion. It's only lonely at the wrong top." Read more here


Sara Bareilles on "Stomping and Screaming" to Be Heard 

"I always describe it as feeling like being pat on the head: 'Oh, that's cute you have an opinion.' I don't experience that as much as when I was starting out, but there was so much of that. I felt like I was stomping and screaming to get anyone to hear me as a voice of authority. We were talking about my own music and my own creation. I've been told to wear different things, to look different, to lose weight, to look sexier, to wear more hair, to wear more makeup. The language of that ends up being about our physical presence. It's happened in the recording studio and around the conference table. I don't have as much tolerance for it anymore. I don't think that I get regarded in that exact same way anymore, because I think I've fought back in my own way over the years. It's still something that is very present." Learn more about Bareilles and Waitress.

(Carey Purcell is the Features Editor of Her work appears in the news, feature and video sections of as well as in the pages of Playbill magazine. Follow her on Twitter @PlaybillCarey.)

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