“Women are not a minority. We’re half the population. And If theatre is not reflecting the experiences of HALF the population, it’s not working. We’re HALF the population and our experiences are not being reflected. And that matters. If a change can be effected here, it would be radical. Any female actor will tell you that a not insignificant part of her working life consists of playing girlfriends, wives, mothers – adjuncts to the male characters. Frequently, sexpots, waifs, victims, prostitutes, Virgin saints, embittered hags. Objects of desire or derision. Playing men’s ideas of women. And it’s pretty gross when you think about it. Think about any little girl you know, how complex, inquisitive and smart she is. Imagine how radical it might be for her to see herself reflected in the plays, films, TV shows she watches. Not an objectified, frequently sexualised version of herself. Not just somebody’s girl. But characters who are struggling, smart, inconsistent, ambitious, doubting, venal, violent or vicious, or who are just a bit crap. Like we all are at times. If more women’s plays are put on then that might start to happen more. And that would be radical.
The other thing we need to talk about is money. We literally need to talk about money. Many years ago, during the run of a play, I discovered that a male actor with less experience than me, in a smaller role, who had never worked for the company before ( I had) was being paid more than I was. I puzzled over it for weeks. By any criteria, it didn’t make sense. So since then, I make it my business to talk about money, to let people know what I am earning and to ask what they are earning. So that I know what the playing field looks like.”
First Posted on Facebook page of Lian Bell where much of discussion on Abbey and Equality has taken place.