Talking to Four (Female) Irish Playwrights

by |
09/18/2009 1:00 PM |

[At this point, Rosalind left the room to see her play for the first time, so her comments are not included in the first part of the discussion of gender below]

We see a lot of plays by Irish men in New York, but not so many by Irish women… there’s been a lot of talk recently in NY about the disparity between male and female playwrights in America so I thought I’d ask you about the state of female playwrights in Ireland.
Lucy: Do you know actually, I find it quite a boring question, to be honest, to be constantly asked what it means to be a female playwright…

Geraldine: I’ve never felt rejected on that basis. I’ve never felt that at all.

Lucy: I consider myself a writer, I’m a novelist as well, I broaden it out to author. This monologue is male. I didn’t make a conscious decision to write a male character or not a male character. That was just a character that came. Obviously it’s very important to think about “are women discriminated against?” and I’m an unqualified feminist, unreservedly, but as well you have to be careful not to insist on the femininity or otherwise of playwrights who happen to be women.

Geraldine: I’ve always just seen it because of the demands of time… you need to be quite flexible to attend rehearsal and travel and stuff.

Lucy: It’s possible to write a novel, you know, while the baby’s sleeping… Geraldine and I were talking last night about how public and performative being a playwright is because you do have to attend rehearsals. We haven’t for these but they are shorter. If you are having a play you need to attend rehearsals and they often run on quite late, we didn’t finish until around midnight last night. You’re required to be publicly more present, which maybe makes it harder if the woman is the primary childcarer or nurturer.

Belinda: I’ve been aware of the argument, but I have to say I’m really not interested in it and I have a lot of resistance to it. I’m glad that people like George are doing something about it, because Origin Theatre Company does a huge amount of work by female playwrights, but at the same time that’s partly because those playwrights are good playwrights not because they are women. If I start thinking about discrimination and that maybe we are up against a wall, it would just be another excuse to procrastinate for me.

Rosalind: I think that’s what I was thinking as well. How can we take in the broad scope when we are trying to focus on our own work, which is much more personal, much more individual.