December 11, 2008

The Life of a Female Theatre Director

Directing on Broadway is still a boys club just like it is in Hollywood. If you are doing a new play you need to have one of the guys in the club like Michael Mayer, Scott Ellis, Doug Hughes, or Joe Montello to direct your play. What I hear from a friend who is a playwright is that most theatres won't consider a woman to direct. Anna D. Shapiro broke into the club with her Tony win for August Osage County but she is happy at Steppenwolf in Chicago and don't think she will be working in NY regularly.

One female director who has gotten close to Broadway -- with Theresa Rebeck's play The Scene at Second Stage -- is Rebecca Taichman, a Yale educated director who works a lot outside of NY, especially in DC where she is spending two years as associate artistic director at the Wholly Mammouth Theatre. Her credits there include Sarah Ruhl's Pulitzer Prize winning play The Clean House before it made it to Lincoln Center (with a male director.)

The Washington Post just did a profile on her in conjunction with her new production of The Taming of the Shrew. There's no denying that she's busy but

Although she has been keeping a healthy presence in Washington, the freelance directing life is taking Taichman around the globe. "Twelfth Night" moves to New Jersey's McCarter Theatre after its run here (Taichman is working on a new musical there), then she heads to San Francisco for Edward Albee "At Home at the Zoo" (previously known as "Peter and Jerry"). After that it's off to East Africa under the auspices of the Sundance Institute; Taichman is collaborating with a Rwandan artist she met during a Sundance residency last summer.

Long-range, she rules out nothing, proclaiming an interest in everything from new plays to classical tragedies to Broadway larks. Especially Broadway larks.

Here's a woman with a ton of credits yet Broadway still eludes her. Is this common? Check out this three year old piece from the NY Times on the lack of women directors on Broadway:
OF the 39 plays and musicals that opened on Broadway this year, 3 were directed by women (a husband-and-wife team directed a fourth, the short-lived "Blonde in the Thunderbird"). Of the 34 new shows in 2004, women directed 2. These are not particularly encouraging figures for those looking for the new female directorial voices. Many women can be found directing shows off Broadway and running regional theaters, but the best-known and biggest-budget venue has not been all that welcoming.
photo: Dominic Braccoli/Washington Post