Study Shows Percentage of Female Directors Off-Broadway Has Nearly Doubled

News   Study Shows Percentage of Female Directors Off-Broadway Has Nearly Doubled
The League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW) has issued the results from its second annual analysis of the status of women employed in Off-Broadway theatres. Findings highlight that the percentage of female directors has increased from 22% in 2011-12 to 40% in 2014-15.

The study also highlighted that women tend to be underrepresented in the offstage creative fields of set, sound and lighting design. Women make up one-third of set designers; about a quarter of sound designers; and a very low percentage of lighting designers, peaking at 16% in 2013-14. Conversely, 72% of stage managers are women, and a higher percentage of costume designers are female. 

The results showed that while the number of female playwrights being produced Off-Broadway is increasing, the average percentage of plays written by women from 2010-15 was only 30%. Six theatres presented 50% or more women playwrights in their 2014-15 season: Ensemble Studio Theatre, Lincoln Center Theater, MCC, Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwrights Horizons and The Women’s Project.

The full results of the study will soon be made available at

The 2015 study by LPTW analyzed employment in 13 professional roles (including playwrights, directors and designers) in 455 Off- and Off-Off-Broadway productions in 22 theatre companies for five complete seasons, 2010-11 through 2014-15.

According to press notes, selected findings are outlined below:  - Productions across the study seasons 2010-11 through 2014-15 are dominated by "new" plays with premieres from 2005 through April 2015. Individual seasons range from 70% to 80% “new” plays, with the five-season 2010-15 rate of 76% "new" plays.

- Women playwrights represented in the study range from a low of 28% in 2011-12 to a high of 36% in 2012-13. The 2010-15 five-season rate of women playwrights is 30% for the study theatres as a group. 

- Five women playwrights have three or more productions during the study period: Teresa Deevy, Amy Herzog, Lisa Kron, Sarah Ruhl and Lucy Thurber. Elevator Repair Service credits women and men among its creative team and has four productions during the study period.

- Women playwrights are consistently much more common among "new" plays (plays with first productions in 2005 or more recent) than older plays produced by theatres tracked in the study. The 2010-15 five-season rate for women playwrights produced is 35% for "new" plays and 13% for older plays.

- Directors range from a high of 40% women in 2014-15 to a low of 22% women in 2011-2012. The 2010-15 five-season rate is 33% women directors. Nine Off-Broadway theatres have 50% or more women directors in their 2014-15 season: EST, Flea Theatre, LAByrinth, LCT, New Group, Rattlestick, Signature, Soho Rep, and the Women’s Project.

- Fourteen women directors have three or more productions during the study period: Sarah Benson, Jo Bonney, Carolyn Cantor, Leah C. Gardiner, Jackson Gay, Anne Kauffman, Tina Landau, Pam MacKinnon, Lisa Peterson, Giovanna Sardelli, Leigh Silverman, Rebecca Taichman, Daniela Topol and Gaye Taylor Upchurch.

- Set designers for study productions are generally less than one-third women, ranging from a low of 22% in 2014-15 to a high of 36% in 2012-13. 14 women set designers with four or more productions are represented in the report period, accounting for 78% (104 of 134) of set design credits for women.

- Lighting designers among the study productions are overwhelmingly men, with a low of 8% women in 2012-13 and highs of 16% women in both 2010-11 and 2013-14. Six women lighting designers with three or more credits are analyzed in the report: Jane Cox, Mary Louise Geiger, Natasha Katz, Nicola Pearce, Jen Schriever and Jennifer Tipton, accounting for 53% (33 of 62) of lighting design credits for women.

- Costume designers are overwhelmingly women, reflecting national trends, with a low of 61% women in 2010-11 and a high of 79% women in 2012-13. Among the most frequently hired woman costume designers (7 or more credits among productions studied) are: Martha Hally, Susan Hilferty, Sarah J. Holden, Sydney Maresca, Jennifer Paar, Jessica Pabst, Emily Rebholz, Teresa Squire, Kaye Voyce, Anita Yavich and Catherine Zuber.

- Women sound designers ranged from a high of 22% in 2011-12 to a low of 14% in 2013-14. Five sound designers account for 93% (79 of 85) of sound design credits for women during the study report’s 5 seasons. 41% (35 of 85) of sound design credits by women during the study period are for Jill BC Du Boff.

- For the five seasons of the study, the number of musicals was small, affecting the numbers and percentages of women employed in musical-related categories, including lyricists and composers.

- Nationally, stage managers average 70% women. Production stage managers in the study’s 22 theatres for 2010-15 are 70% women. Stage managers and assistant stage managers for 2010-15 are 72% women.

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