October 7, 2015

Statistics don’t lie, even if they can be manipulated. But numerous studies in recent years have shown that female writers are underrepresented on American stages. The subject has raised consternation, and agitation, most recently this fall when a brouhaha erupted over a certain New York theater’s female-writer-free season announcement. (I’m not going to rehash it, since I have sympathy for the complications artistic directors face when putting together a slate of plays.) Serendipitously, the theater community in Washington has a current statistic to counter the grim ones. The Women’s Voices Theater Festival, which began in September and runs into November, will present more than 50 new plays and musicals by women in theaters across the city. I spent a weekend sampling the offerings and came away impressed and energized by the quality and diversity on display. Impressed, yes, but not surprised. In the more than 10 years since I’ve written for this paper, I’ve seen more emerging female playwrights consistently produce excellent work than their male counterparts: Sarah Ruhl, Annie Baker, Amy Herzog, Melissa James Gibson and Gina Gionfriddo, to name the first few who come to mind.