As a Drama society, we are committed to being representative and inclusive in all our performances and work. We have made it our aim to ensure that we create equal opportunities for performers and creatives especially those who are underrepresented in the industry. We want our work to show a diverse range of stories and voices and make the drama society a space where everyone can express their creativity and share their work. We are committed to this because of massive inequalities within the arts industry and we believe that the industry should not carry on this way. Below are a variety of statistics to show the lack of inclusion in the UK industry that drives us to make change in our society.
The work of female creatives is still heavily underrepresented within the industry. A study in 2012 showed that only 36% of artistic directors were women. This has now gone down to 31%, exemplifying that there has been limited improvement in gender representation within theatre in those 8 years. Furthermore, there is still a significant lack of productions written by female playwrights. In the period of December 2018 to September 2019 The Royal Shakespeare Company featured no plays by female playwrights. Likewise from November 2018 to April 2019 only 25% of The National theatre’s productions were written by women. Moreover, it is concerning to know that Women make up just 10% of theatre critics. The women in theatre forum report found that 8/10 female performers are forced to turn down work due to parenting or caring responsibilities showing that an unfair burden falls on women in the industry. Ingrained gender inequality is an institutional problem which makes it harder for women to navigate themselves through a theatre industry that is dominated by white men. We want to ensure that the female creatives at The University of Manchester have equal opportunities to perform and put on work to their male counterparts.
It is also evident that there is a vast lack of diversity and representation in the performance world. We want to ensure we share a diverse range of stories on stage that educate and open people’s minds to different experiences because the white narrative cannot be the only one that is told. In 2018 – 2019 the only 10% of writers, 33% of performers and 13% of directors at The National Theatre were People of Colour. Again, the lack of diversity in the theatre industry is a deeply ingrained institutional problem but this doesn’t mean that on a society level we can’t start putting in the work to change that.The Stage published a survey in 2020, showing there has been slow progress on diversity in UK theatre. The survey revealed that 92% of top Theatre bosses are white making only 8% of them People of Colour. These statistics themselves are shocking and prove just how fundamental it is to shift our focus towards how we can improve diversity and representation. We as a Drama Society want to make sure that we give BIPOC and ethnic minority creatives at the University of Manchester the space to share their work, feel represented and welcomed in creative spaces.
The trans casting statement published in 2020, found that “the majority of trans performance is occurring in self-produced productions, often at fringe venues or on tour. It is rare for a trans performer to be employed in a mainstream theatre production, and even rarer for mainstream theatres to produce trans-led work.” The need for more trans and non binary inclusive casting is clear in the UK arts industry. Some theatres this year have pledged to only cast trans, non binary and gender non conforming actors in roles of characters that hold those identities. Some of these theatres include Contact Theatre and The Royal Exchange both Manchester based. Although this is a massive step for trans and non binary casting and inclusion in the industry, there is still a lot of change that needs to happen in order to achieve a trans and non binary inclusive industry in all areas. We want to make sure the UOM Drama Society is trans and non binary inclusive. We also recognise the importance of representing LGBTQ+ stories in our work and having queer characters represented as these are also important stories to present in our work.
Cecilia Alfonso Eaton (Accessibility Rep 2021/22)
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