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.
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-