BRIDGING THE GAP IN THEATRE IN THE SOUTH WEST JUNO UNVEIL SPENDING PLANS

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10/19/2015 by juno theatre

Salisbury-based all female group Juno Theatre has been awarded a grant of £27,318 from the Arts Council to catapult its activities. The grant means it can now forge ahead with ambitious plans to help address the gender inequality gap that currently exists in theatre, by using the funds to develop the skills and confidence of women writers and women theatre practitioners within a 40-mile radius of Salisbury, which spans the South West counties of Hampshire, Wiltshire, Somerset and Dorset.

According to the figures compiled by Tonic Theatre in 2014, of the artistic directors working across the 179 theatre organisations in Arts Council England’s national portfolio, 63% are male and 37% are female. In organisations receiving more than £500,000 Arts Council subsidy this financial year, the situation is worse with only 24% female representation at the top are female. While women represent the majority of drama students and also theatregoers, Tonic’s research, carried out alongside the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, also revealed that among the writers of new plays produced in established theatres, such as the Almeida, Tricycle, Royal Court, Donmar, Olivier and Lyttelton at the National, only 24% were female. In 2012, only 24% of directors were female in the UK’s 10 most subsidised theatres.

Juno Theatre’s plans to the bridge the gender gap in the South West were unveiled for the coming year at Salisbury Arts Centre on Tuesday 22nd September. The company was set up a year ago, emerging from the She Writes women’s playwriting group run by Angie Street at Salisbury Playhouse.

The first matronage of Juno Theatre was revealed as actress Beatie Edney, who was unable to attend the press launch due to her filming commitments playing the brash, boozy Prudie, in series 2 of the BBC 1 ratings smash, Poldark. Edney, the daughter of legendary British actress Sylvia Syms, renowned for playing Heather MacLeod in the 1986 film classic ‘Highlander’ and Louise in the sitcom ‘Dressing for Breakfast’, is passionate about supporting, developing and encouraging women writers and women practitioners in the process of theatre making.

Beatie Edney says: “As the Guardian’s Theatre Writer, Lyn Gardner said:Why keep going to the theatre if you seldom see yourself reflected there? Given that women make up just over half of the population and buy more theatre tickets than men, the industry is shooting itself in the foot if it fails to commit to real change”.  To be vibrant, alive and relevant our culture needs to reflect the society we live in; which is 51% women. We need to close the gender gap pervading theatre by supporting and encouraging female playwrights. Sponsoring workshops for play readings, play development and putting the work of more female playwrights into production can actively change the bias against women in our theatre, and ultimately change our culture. Juno Theatre is doing this.  By taking a proactive role in encouraging female playwrights they will help change the atmosphere for women. In order to speak, it helps to know that you will be heard. I support Juno Theatre in their exciting work raising the profile of women in theatre.”

Juno Theatre aims to encourage more women writers and to generate work for female theatre practitioners. The theatre makers staged a well-received pilot event at last year’s Salisbury Fringe when five short plays by local women writers featuring all female casts were performed. Juno Theatre will also be presenting four short plays on the theme of ‘Body Talk’ at this year’s Salisbury Fringe, on October 4 at Castle Street Social Club, in Scots Lane.

Juno Theatre’s arts funded output will step up its activities in 2016 with the Arts Council funded Juno Showcase, staging an evening of up to six new plays by women writers in the catchment area, to be performed at Salisbury Arts Centre, on the evening of Sunday 7th February. ‘Circling The Square’ is the theme and Juno Theatre are looking for fresh, complete new plays, two-handers, three-handers or monologues that take inspiration from this title. They can be funny, poignant, daring, defiant, thought-provoking. Juno Showcase producer, and deputy Chairwoman, Moira Townsend Williams will be working alongside Juno Theatre’s, Artistic Director, Claudia Leaf, to ensure the production values are of the highest standards. Townsend Williams says “Our remit is to develop and celebrate the female voice in all aspects of theatre making.”

 

Future plans include organising a series of creative days, throughout the year, in Salisbury on different aspects of theatre practice.

CREATIVE DAYS

Sat November 28th  10 – 4pm

Sat February 27th     10 – 4pm

Sat May 14th              10 – 4pm

Sat July 9th                 10 – 4pm

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