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.

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