An interview with Anne Bertram, Executive Director of Theatre Unbound.
The Twin Cities is well-known for its robust theatre scene, selling more tickets per capita than Chicago or Seattle. But, theatre does more than entertain us, it can also challenge our points of view.
In theatres across the US, a large group of actors, directors, and playwrights are consistently excluded. According to Anne Bertram, Executive Director of Theatre Unbound, “It’s not uncommon for nationally-recognized theatres to offer entire seasons without any women playwrights or directors.”
Why are there so few opportunities for women? The New York State Council for the Arts spent three years looking into it, and in 2002, published their results. As they put it, “stories about men are considered universal while those about women are not.” Because of this, Pam Berlin noted, “Wit is perceived as a play about a woman dying rather than about death, like King Lear.”
Theatre Unbound has been working to change that since 1999, when seven women with a common purpose joined together to create theatre that reflects women’s experience and provides more and better roles for women. Simply put, they bring women’s stories to the stage. They offer, on average, twelve opportunities for women directors, forty opportunities for women actors (as well as some for male actors), and fourteen opportunities for women playwrights each season.
Bertram says, “The Minnesota Women’s Press has recognized us as a Changemaker organization working to improve the lives of women and girls, and their readers recognized our Artistic Director, Stacey Poirier, as Favorite Minnesota Role Model for Women in the Arts.”
But their work doesn’t stop with helping artists. The audiences who attend their plays see meaningful and entertaining works of art. Theatre Unbound’s vision is to be a “nationally-recognized source of challenging opportunities for women theatre artists, creating a broader range of stories and stimulating communities to change the way they view gender roles in society.”
And, they are succeeding. An audience member wrote in to praise Theatre Unbound’s production of Madeleine George’s, “The Most Massive Woman Wins”, saying that the play addressed “tough issues that, while at first glance seem to be about the female experience, are unexpectedly and powerfully universal.” And, in 2013, they won an Ivey Award (2013) for their all-female production of Julius Caesar.
If chosen, Theatre Unbound will use the funds to support the upcoming world premier of Title IX, a play about a girl who struggles to keep her place on her school’s track team despite difficulties at home and shoes that are held together with duct tape. Title IX is a high-energy and interactive performance aimed at young women in grades six to nine and their adult champions. It celebrates the positive effect sports can have in women’s lives, and tells the story of the 1972 law that has enabled so many women athletes to reach their goals.
Categories: Blue Plate Gives
Sorry, comments are closed for this item.