Facing anger, New York City theater company adds female-written play
The Manhattan Theater Club, one of New York’s foremost nonprofit theater companies, has added a play written by a woman to its upcoming season in the face of criticism that seven of its upcoming offerings were all penned by white men.
The company said Friday that this spring, it will produce “The Ruins of Civilization” by the British writer Penelope Skinner, but said the deal had been in the works for over two months and pointed out that four of its eight plays last year were written by women.
The lack of diversity in the company’s announced slate frustrated theater leaders who pointed out that the mission of the Manhattan Theater Club was to create “productions as broad and diverse as New York itself.”
Critics included the playwrights Kristoffer Diaz and Paula Vogel, who took to Twitter this week to ask the theater’s artistic director, Lynne Meadow: “For a woman in theatre who attended Bryn Mawr, where is your sisterhood?”
Skinner’s play will join the theater company’s Broadway and off-Broadway roster of Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love,” David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Ripcord,” Richard Greenberg’s “Our Mother’s Brief Affair,” John Patrick Shanley’s “Prodigal Son,” Nick Payne’s “Incognito,” Nick Jones’s “Important Hats of the Twentieth Century” and Florian Zeller’s “The Father.”
Frustration over the lack of women playwrights chosen to have their work onstage has lately gotten more attention. According to The League of Professional Theatre Women, only 28 percent of productions were written by women during the 2013-14 Broadway and off-Broadway season.