(Deidre Falvey’s article appeared in The Irish Times, 7/14.)
Irish theatre came out blazing this week, proving that gender equality is ‘not hard to do, if you want to’
What a difference a couple of years can make. Some top players in Irish theatre are chatting in the Lir Academy of Dramatic Art in Dublin. Anne Clarke says “there’s a certain element of: just do it. Gender equality is not a hard thing to do, if you want to. This change came about because of a decision, to reverse inequality and give more opportunities to women.”
Lynne Parker observes that the situation “has changed so much already. And it’s still changing.” Sarah Durcan says: “When we started doing this, none of us knew about unconscious bias, dignity at work policies or anything. So that language and knowledge has passed not only into the theatre sector but wider. We always said we wanted this movement to be a catalyst for change everywhere.”
They – a top independent producer, Rough Magic’s artistic director and a Waking The Feminists (WTF) organiser respectively – are at the Lir for the launch, by Minister of Culture Josepha Madigan, of the gender equality policies of 10 major theatres and arts organisations who have led the way in changing the way they work.
Clarke says she had tears in her eyes reading the documents that morning, thinking about what was achieved in such a short time. There was a celebratory, we-can-do-it, atmosphere. Lian Bell, a key WTF leader, is working in Donegal, but her spirit is frequently invoked.
As Irish theatre people talk, you get the sense that, far from being an intractable challenge, what you need for gender equality in an organisation is awareness of the issue, and the will to change how things are done.
Photo: Irish Times