CMU School of Drama

Thursday, April 13, 2017

5 graphs that show the ethnic, racial and gender makeup of playwrights at the Mark Taper Forum

For The Curious: Then one of my graduate students, Christina Ramos, asked, “How many Latino plays have they done at the Taper in the last 40 years?”

“I don’t know, but lets find out.” Thus began a two week trek through Center Theater Group’s 50 year production history.

The simple answer is 10. There have been 10 plays by Latino playwrights in the past 40 years.


Mark Ivachtchenko said...

Pretty much expected the those results as soon as I read the title and still disappointed ever the same. Honestly, the numbers shocked me even more than they probably should have, especially the fact that there have only been 10 Latino playwrights in 40 years at the Mark Taper Forum. The percentage of plays by these demographics that have been produced are even harder to believe. This is undoubtedly an excellent sample population to study to learn about the greater theater community, which probably has similar results minus the outliers. The fact that the playwright population is dominated so heavily by white males, it can have significant differences on the play in contrast to a minority writer. There are, of course, progressive white playwrights out there but I feel like to fully become ingrained in a radical, progressive play's storyline, it should be written by someone who can personally connect to the words they put on the page. This is especially important given the fact that the play is realistically the starting line for the production and if you can't have a secure start, you risk an inaccurate finish.

Sarah Boyle said...

All the information was to be expected, but I liked the format. Normally when I read this kind of article, which some kind of race or gender statistics in it, I end up having some more questions about what the statistics would be for a different variable. It was nice to be able to click on the options for the second graph and see how race was distributed within the male and female categories and answer that question right away. (And to see that there were no Asian female playwrights in their history.) On the bright side, the end of the last graph showed a diverse season, on the downside, that’s only one data point, and it could be like the male/female line graph, which would hit nearly 50%, then return to majority male playwrights. These charts are only for one theater, it would be interesting to see this as a national average, or by major cities.

Emily Lawrence said...

There was nothing about this article that shocked me, but everything about this article disappointed me. The most disappointing part of these graphs was the fact that the amount of change that has occurred is still very little. I continued to be amazed by the fact that the numbers have not had much change even with the amount of protest and determination that has come with equality. Every time there is an article posted about equality, I am amazed because a different format is used almost every time. Another thing that amazed but did not surprise me was the fact that playwrights deal with equality issues just as much. When I think of inequality issues in theatre I think of technicians, directors and actors, it just makes me sad that yet another group of people is subjected to this criticism. There simply seem to be more problems rising with inequality, and while there is much being done, it does not feel like anything in comparison to the wrong doings that continue to occur.

Alexa James-Cardenas said...

To be honest, when I saw the charts, I laughed, especially at the first graph. Like the other commenters, and probably almost everyone who reads the article can relate that they weren’t surprised by the results of the obvious representation of playwrights over the years. Of course this being one location and that doesn’t necessarily represent other theatric functions throughout America, but it does a good of expressing the clear issue. But instead of disappointment, I kind of feel relieved. Of course the numbers aren’t good, but the fact that they do exist and there is evidence of their existence is what matters most, because when talking about inequality nothing is more telling than a colorful graph showing the 250:40 male to female ratio (for instance). In this day in age there is no hiding true fact, because the massive accessibility and contact a person has from even a small (large, we will see what size Apple want to make it next) device. Showing that the only excuse for progress to stop or not happen is because of human prejudice and apathy.