We’re doing better(?)

Last week in Dramaturgy, we selected plays to work on for our final project. Ilana put a table up on the chalk board and asked us to tally off where our playwrights fell within the following categories:

Gender Identity:    Male | Female | Nonbinary | Trans

Race: White | Afro-Caribbean | Asian/Asian American | LatinX |Indigenous |Middle Eastern

She also offered that we could add any categories if we had a playwright who did not fit the specific labeling provided. Our class had a fairly spread list, but the majority still rested in both the Male and White categories. There was a range of representation, but as a class we agreed it was fairly imbalanced. I looked at this list for awhile wondering what it would look like if we did this tally with the entire history of SOT theatre productions… So Dillon McGuire and I did that (also with the later help of Lucy Rydell and Dillon’s boyfriend, Danny). After class, Dillon and I went to Brian who gave us two spreadsheets of data going from 2009 to 1955. Curiously enough, there is no information to be found thus far on any productions during the 90’s… and complete information on the website cuts off at the fall of 2015. If anyone knows the complete seasons from 2009 to 2015 that would be incredibly helpful in creating a full picture document. Also, if anyone knows what wormhole the 90’s fell down into… we’re extremely curious.

So here are the stats. (Spreadsheet here)

From Fall of 2015 to the end of this year (take into account some shows from this spring have not been accounted for because they have not yet been released) the breakdown is as follows:

White: 41 | Afro-Carribean: 3 | Asian/Asian-American: 1 | LatinX: 1

Male: 32 | Female: 14

*No writers of Indigenous or Middle Eastern descent, No writers with non-cis gender identities

From Fall of 2001 to Spring 2009:

White: 107 | Afro-Carribean: 3 | Asian/Asian-American: 2 |LatinX: 5 |Middle Eastern: 1

Male: 107 | Female: 11

*No writers of Indigenous descent, No writers with non-cis gender identities

Fall of 1979 to Spring of 1987. 1987 is the last year we have info for, and we chose to stop at 1978 for obvious reasons.

White: 59 | Afro-Carribean: 2

Male: 57 | Female: 4

*No writers of Asian, LatinX, Middle Eastern, or Indigenous descent, No writers with non-cis gender identities


This is an incomplete pool of data, so please take it all with a grain of salt. Also, keep in mind that the statistics from the 2000’s include student selected shows and this blog post is not just directed toward the faculty. However… I am frustrated and confused why we continue to see seasons that are so imbalanced.

So, dear grad students, dear STAMP and dear administrators: Let’s all do better. Let’s hold our asses to the flame and pick seasons that represent our student body. I love this school and want to be proud of every single aspect of it. In looking at these statistics, I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Ruth Bader Ginsberg: “When I’m sometimes asked when there will be enough [women on the Supreme Court] and I say ‘When there are nine,’ people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.”

I challenge the school to produce a season of entirely people of color, or entirely women, or entirely women people of color and I challenge the school to produce ANY play written by a non-cis gender playwright.





5 comments on “We’re doing better(?)

  1. Link to data that anyone can access, even without a BU email: goo.gl/Xgc9KH

  2. Thank you thank you thank you for these stats

  3. Really great work. Curious to know if this includes opera productions or not as this would certainly further skew the stats to more white and male (and old).

  4. […] I posted a blog looking at representation of playwrights in the seasons at BU. Check out that blog here. It was a glimpse into an incomplete pool of data, which myself, Dillon, and Lucy (with many other […]

  5. […] and Lucy’s exercise on the diversity of the SOT’s past seasons (which can be found here) finds that there has never been a play done that was written by a non-cisgender playwright. This […]

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