Where have all the women gone?
Millions of years ago (ok, it just seems that way) when I was a young actress struggling to get cast in Chicago and LA, even here in Madison, every audition I walked into would be crowded with 50 or more other young actresses eyeing each other, psyching each other out, fighting tooth and nail for some misogynistically written tiny role. Fast forward to last week's auditions for The Sweet Lowdown. 5 men audition and 1 woman, who also is grey-haired and "of a certain age." Not a single ingenue. Why?
Part of it is that the horde of ingenues, like me, are now much older and greyer. Tired of the rejection, many no longer wish to tread the boards.
More women are running theater companies. Tired of being limited to variations of a whore, they are producing plays written by women about women, resulting in more parts for women. More parts and more companies mean the pool of ingenues is spread thinner. Many actresses can now afford to wait until they are personally invited to play an important role. Who wouldn't prefer that to the cattle call?
Many of the young women we saw onstage a few years ago have married and have tiny ones. For awhile now, their biological creation will take priority over any artistic creation, at least until they learn to balance things as I did decades ago.
So we are having another round of auditions and I am trying everything I can think of to get young actresses and dancers to agree to do the show. Without actors to tell the story there is no theater. And even a "long 39" as Barrie called it will only last so long.