Favourite Beth Allen is swap­ping a hos­pi­tal for a class­room this month star­ring in and co-pro­duc­ing the psy­cho­log­i­cal drama at The Base­ment the­atre. She spoke to re­porter about fem­i­nism and gen­der bias in the world of New Zealand show busi­ness.

Jess Lee

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

1. De­scribe in 140 char­ac­ters or less. A par­ent-teacher in­ter­view that veers well away from the child un­der dis­cus­sion. 2. What drew you to the play? The taut writ­ing, the sim­plic­ity of the stag­ing, the fact that my char­ac­ter is dif­fer­ent from the one I play on Short­land Street and the chance to work with Jen­nifer Ward-Lealand [ac­tress and co­pro­ducer] and So­phie Roberts [di­rec­tor]. 3. The play is brought to­gether by an en­tirely fe­male cast, crew and cre­ative team – was this a con­scious de­ci­sion? A very con­scious de­ci­sion. Partly be­cause it was fit­ting due to the fe­male-ori­ented themes of the play and partly in re­sponse to an ar­ti­cle by Janet McAl­lis­ter in a news­pa­per late in 2012 high­light­ing the lack of plays writ­ten and di­rected by women be­ing staged in Auck­land. 4. What do you think of Sweden’s new movie rat­ing sys­tem to highlight gen­der bias? [To get an ‘‘A’’ rat­ing, a movie must have at least two named fe­male char­ac­ters who talk to each other about some­thing other than a man.] Ha! That is bril­liant. Can we get it here? 5. How do you think New Zealand would stack up across the the­atre, tele­vi­sion and film scenes? Tele­vi­sion seems to be more even­keeled in terms of gen­der bias. We don’t pro­duce enough the­atre by women but gen­er­ally the­atre tends to give women roles that have more scope to them than ‘‘girl­friend’’ or ‘‘mother’’.

With re­gard to films, I saw White Lies [based on the Witi Ihi­maera novel Medicine Woman] this year and was cheered to see a film with a cast of women, two of whom were over 30, with about four lines of di­a­logue in the whole movie re­volv- ing around a man. That’s got to be progress. 6. Do you con­sider your­self a fem­i­nist? What do you think of it as a la­bel? Yes. I think in New Zealand the la­bel has a neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tion to it – there’s a bit of an ‘‘oh, don’t make a fuss’’ at­ti­tude here.

But in re­cent weeks, with the rev­e­la­tions of the Roast Busters and sev­eral high-pro­file men’s atti-

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