One of the reasons I fell in love with theatre is because it gives a voice to people who don't have one. It provides a platform for storytelling. It encourages imagination.
Theatre is the gateway for change as it tells all of the untold stories of the world, but as I have grown older and experienced more plays and musicals, read more Playbill biographies, and watched more award shows, I have noticed that many (not all) of these stories have been told through the lens of straight, cisgender, white males.
Of course, I've always known this. But as a young, aspiring female director, seeing myself represented in theatre in such small numbers makes me wonder why. Why am I working so hard every single day to go into a profession that will push me to the side? Why are there still so few opportunities for women and people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community? Why have we yet to make real progress from the days when the theatre was dominated by this privileged group of people?
Now, this is not to say that the visions of this demographic of theatre artists are not valuable today, and I am not at all disregarding the foundation of theatre that has been laid out for us. In fact, some of the greatest artists identify within that group of straight, cis, white males. However, there are so many different people — different genders, races, and sexualities — that need the chance to tell stories the way they want to tell them. These people cannot be silenced or overlooked.
On Sunday, June 9, 2019, the 73rd annual Tony Awards ceremony commenced. The number of men nominated for all awards, not just directing, compared to that of women was astounding. Many amazingly talented women ultimately claimed some of these awards, but a standout acceptance speech was that of Rachel Chavkin, the Tony winner for Best Direction of a Musical for her work on the Broadway hit, "Hadestown."
Rachel Chavkin Wins Best Direction Of A Musical At The 2019 Tony Awards CBS / YouTube
"I wish I wasn't the only woman directing a musical on Broadway this season. There are so many women who are ready to go. There are so many artists of color who are ready to go. And we need to see that racial diversity and that gender diversity reflected in our critical establishment, too. This is not a pipeline issue. It is a failure of imagination by a field whose job is to imagine the way the world could be. So, let's do it."
Chavkin is only the tenth woman in the 73 years of Tony Award history to win for directing, and only the fourth woman to win the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical. We see so few women getting nominated and winning these awards not because their work is not worthy of recognition, but because the opportunities for these women are not available in the first place.
So, for all the young girls, all the people of color, all the queer artists, and anyone else who doesn't see themselves properly and significantly represented in their field go show the world the potential for creativity, the limitlessness of imagination, and the everlasting need for storytelling. Don't take no for an answer. You deserve to be heard.
In the words of the iconic Rachel Chavkin, "let's do it."