The Theatre, Film and Creative Writing department is preparing for a season of innovative and inspiring women. With three diverse plays all written by various women playwrights, the department joins the campus in advocating for diversity and inclusion.
Richard Klautsch, chairman of the Theatre, Film and Creative Writing department, explained that the department relied on the voices of the directors and students to come up with this year’s theme.
“We had a couple of students a few years ago who [researched]the many plays produced by the department over the years. They found that women playwrights were vastly under-represented, so we began to include more plays by women,” Klautsch said. “We have been more conscious in recent years of trying to include plays by or about underrepresented groups.”
Mia Raymes, a junior theatre arts major, said in order for plays to accurately represent the world, it is necessary to hear from all perspectives, including those of women.
Raymes believes that while the theatre department is taking important steps towards inclusion by presenting plays from many different perspectives, there is still progress to be made.
“Even though we have made a lot of progress as a society when it comes to equal opportunity and inclusion for women, there is still room for more progress to be made,” Raymes said. “Over the years that I have been in the theatre department at Boise State, a lot of the plays we have performed are predominantly written by white male playwrights.”
Women in theatre continue to be underrepresented. According to a study published in 2018, the percentage of women playwrights represented in theatres range from 29% to 37%.
In all aspects of theatre, the study additionally stated that women are struggling to achieve the same representation and gain access to the same opportunities as men. By including female playwrights in theatres, women are given the opportunity to share their perspectives.
“I think it is important to have women’s voices heard in theatre because we have a story to tell,” Raymes said. “We know what it is like to be female and the trials and tribulations that come along with that in a seemingly patriarchal dominated society.”
For much of history, women playwrights were nearly nonexistent and had virtually no voice in theatre.
Darrin J. Puffal-Purdy, director of theatre, explained that women playwrights began to emerge in the later half of the 20th century, paving the way for diversity in the theatre.
However, women playwrights are not as uncommon as they once were, which raises the question as to why their voices and presence continues to be overlooked.
In light of this issue, the Boise State theatre department is making conscious efforts to include a diverse range of voices in their theatre.
“We are well overdue to produce a season of all female playwrights,” Puffal-Purdy said. “This is something that the rest of the country has been doing for a long time, and it is high time that we have taken up the mantle of producing female work.”
Puffal-Purdy touched on the importance of not only bringing in the voices of female playwrights, but producing plays that further represent underrepresented groups.
By focusing on bringing those underrepresented voices to the stage, the theatre department aims to inspire introspection and change within the Boise State community.
“I hope it will teach us to be better artists,” Puffal-Purdy said. “I hope it will force us to challenge ourselves every year to really give voice to underrepresented groups, give opportunities to our students and give exciting performances to our audiences.”