[Selection from May 2022 report, published May 22, 2022 on the Women Count report series page.]

I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: WOMEN COUNT VI, 2019/20 AND 2021/22

The Women Count project collects and publishes analyses of New York City Off Broadway production credits to assess gender parity in theater hiring decisions. Since 2014 the report series has addressed several basic questions. Whose plays are being done? Who is directing them? Who is being hired for theatrical off-stage roles in New York’s theaters beyond Broadway? The goal of the report series is to change the conversation from anecdotes to action plans to support advocacy efforts on behalf of women and nonbinary playwrights, performers, and off-stage theater workers.

The universe of theater companies covered by the Women Count report series has been adjusted over the years to drop companies that have stopped producing, such as The Pearl, and to add others, such as Second Stage and Irish Rep. Theater for a New Audience is included here for the first time in the report series, and LAByrinth once again appears, now that it has resumed producing after a several-year pause. In addition, we have expanded the lens of our analyses to include in our database and our reporting tables individuals identifying as non-binary, and now report numbers and percentages for “female and non-binary” workers in our familiar reporting categories

Women Count VI covers 24 companies, two pandemic-influenced seasons 2019/20 and 2021/22 – note that theater was completely shut down for the lost 2020/21 season – and 152 productions. (Five productions across the two years were co-productions involving two different study companies. This project grants full credit for production staff in each study company, i.e. replicates those records, so that there were in fact 147 unique productions during the two study seasons in the present report.) As in prior reports, we provide summary information by season, with most tables providing company-by-company detail focusing on gender hiring breakdowns in multiple roles.

Findings from these two most recent seasons of Off and Off-Off Broadway productions reveal several areas in which women are dominant, some areas where parity is being approached, and many other areas where parity is far from the norm. This report does not analyze why such decisions hiring have been made. Rather, the reports in this series document the status of these hiring decisions in to inform the field as it considers ways to promote gender parity. Data are assembled from production playbills, season announcements, theatre web sites, published production reviews, on-line databases, and professional networks.

  • New plays among study theater companies comprised 75% in 2019/20 and 82% in 2021/22. At least three-quarters of the plays produced by study theater companies were world premieres or within five years of their original production, and the just completed season, with few productions, featured a higher percentage of new plays that seen in prior seasons.
  • Women or nonbinary playwrights (one in each study year) hovered around parity among plays produced – 43% in 2019/20 and nearly 60% in 2021/22.
  • Women director credits for the two study seasons (no nonbinary playwrights were among the study productions) grew from 44% in 2019/20 to 54% in 2021/22.
  • Set designer credits for women or nonbinary designers grew from 38% in 2019/20 to 45% in 2021/22.
  • Lighting designers among study productions are increasingly female, with no nonbinary designers in the two study years, increasing from 38% of lighting credits for women in 2019/20 to 58% of lighting credits for women in 2021/22.
  • Costume designers are primarily female and nonbinary, growing from 71% in 2019/20 to 80% in 2021/22.
  • Sound designer credits were 28% female or nonbinary in 2019/20 and 2021/22.
  • Production stage managers were just over 60% female or nonbinary in 2019/20 and 2021/22, representing a decrease in non-male stage manager credits from prior seasons. Stage managers and assistant stage managers hovered around 70% female or nonbinary, 72% in 2019/20 and 67% in 2021/22, reflecting national trends.

The Women Count report series has become part of the national conversation on gender parity in theater. In 2019, the Women Count project joined the Counting Together initiative comprised of national and regional data projects, coordinated 2019-2021 by Todd London (Dramatists Guild) and Luis Castro (American Theatre Wing). The Counting Together initiative’s evolving mission, inspired by ongoing evidence of systemic exclusion in the theater reported in multiple data projects, is to convene the member groups regularly to report findings collectively and to identify pathways to greater equity and inclusion through narratives in their multiple data reports. Beginning in 2022, Martha Wade Steketee joined Luis Castro as co-facilitator of the initiative, that remains jointly hosted by the Dramatists Guild and the Wing. In February 2022 the initiative received two inaugural Anthem Awards in the areas of DEI community engagement and awareness. See more about the project at: https://countingtogether.org/.

[full report here]

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