Canadian Women Playwrights Online is a scholarly project that will address a widening void in theatre scholarship in Canada: the absence of scholarship attending to current work by contemporary women playwrights in Canada.
As a demographic, women are actively engaged in Canadian theatre, yet they are significantly underrepresented among the ranks of produced playwrights and artistic decision makers. According to the recent Playwrights’ Guild of Canada Equity in Theatre report, women comprise half of the Guild’s membership list, yet male playwrights were almost three times as likely to be produced (MacArthur). Equally disturbingly, the report revealed only incremental improvement for women playwrights, directors, and artistic directors since the first such report authored by Rina Fraticelli in 1982, and patterns of actual regression since an interim report by Rebecca Burton in 2006.
Theatre scholarship tends to implicitly replicate this inequity because it focuses mainly on the work of the few women playwrights whose work is most frequently or visibly produced, while the larger body of Canadian women’s theatrical contributions remain in the shadows, never accruing enough visibility or supporting material for study.
Any kind of thorough or systematic analysis of current playwriting by women, then, must start by developing a research archive to support that inquiry. Canadian Women Playwrights Online surveys playwrights about the scope of their work and any factors such as gender, place, relationships, and experience that influence their identities as playwrights. All woman-identified, published or produced Canadian playwrights are eligible to be represented here. Using emergent digital tools, the project seeks to develop a rich resource of accessible, accurate, current material that highlights the full range of work by women playwrights and situates them within networks of influence and theatrical production in Canada.
Primary Investigators: Ann Wilson, Dorothy Hadfield
Consultant: Susan Brown
Project Manager: Leslie Allin
Research Assistants: Heather Teeter, Gordon Harper, Duncan Gibson-Lockhart, Claire Wilcox
Partner Organizations: Playwrights Guild of Canada, Equity in Theatre