March 13, 2017


By Margaret Austin  

This all-day event, convened by Linda Wilson and Kate JasonSmith, took place on Saturday 11 March at Whitireia on Vivian Street, Wellington.  About forty women attended.  

Linda Wilson opened proceedings with an announcement of upcoming events in the current WTF! Women’s Theatre Festival.  

Trish Stevenson, who facilitated the first hui, and is on the board of Taki Rua, reviewed the first one held on 19 September last year, reminding us that under discussion were barriers to women’s equality in theatrical matters, and what helpful strategies could be developed.  

Gaylene Preston, film maker, gave the keynote address. She told us that a low boredom threshold was responsible for her life direction, and that the reason she ended up making films instead of acting in them was that her tits were too small! 

She made the observation that corporate talk of goals and list making were not applicable to the theatrical life – career paths were replaced by “people who just do stuff”. 

“I work from a point of outrage,” she informed us. And on the subject of funding, “If I get refused, I just have to go ahead. Because who the hell are they?”

Who the hell indeed, was the general mood of the audience.

We then heard from the groups formed at the earlier hui with particular areas of interest. These were: Research and Data Collection; Media, Lobbying and Promotion; Education; and Making Great Roles for Women.

When asked what we would like to see in the way of women’s stories onstage, someone said they’d like an opera about the life of Donna Awatere, and perhaps a musical comedy based on Suzanne Aubert!! 

Trish asked: where do we go from here? She observed that funding agencies usually went with what was known and safe, that what we need is a kaupapa, that is, an enhancement of women’s theatre to take the form of anything from managing a data base, to supporting new playwrights, to advocacy.

Finally, Kate JasonSmith introduced the concept of 50/50 by 20/20, meaning a goal of 50% participation and recognition of women in theatre by 2020. 

Convenors Linda and Kate are pleased with what the day accomplished. Amongst other things: 

A website and database for Women in Theatre will be set up;

A group will be convened to look into making Women in Theatre an entity in order to attract funding and bequests to host future huis and to send emerging playwrights to international conferences;

A third hui will be held at BATS in September. 

Onwards and upwards! 

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