Onstage Roles and Women in Theatre

July 21, 2016

Women’s stories need to be told – and we need more female acting roles available to be able to do that properly.  According to some researchers, only one out of three acting roles in theatrical productions go to women – despite the fact that theatre audiences are almost always overwhelmingly female.


As actresses, we always face greater competition at auditions than our male counterparts do – and part of the reason for this is an abundance of plays where the number of male roles far outweighs the number of female roles.  We can all tell stories of being cast in a show, and rehearsals can’t start for a couple of weeks because the director is still having trouble finding enough men for the male roles.


In addition, we often run into the issue that, when there are female roles available, they are very stereotypical, one-dimensional roles. Part of the fun of acting is finding a “meaty,” challenging role to sink our teeth into. We actresses are so tired of playing “the girlfriend,” who has no relevance to the plot and no personality of her own outside of being the male character’s arm candy.


The Women’s Theatre Festival is making great strides in gender equality in theatre by providing a large 124 roles for female actresses – and these roles are not just limited to “the girlfriend.” They include Hollywood icons, women fighting racism, lesbian aliens, women struggling with drug addiction, women fighting back against domestic abuse – just to name a few. And that’s only in the festival’s opening act, the 24-Hour Occupy the Stage event. Click here for tickets. Even more great female roles are provided in the festival’s mainstage lineup in August.


The Women’s Theatre Festival is providing great opportunities for female actresses – but it shouldn’t take a dedicated festival for these opportunities to be available. North Carolina theatres, let’s keep the momentum going after the festival by writing, directing, and choosing plays with lots of acting roles for women. You can see by the Women’s Theatre Festival that we have lots of talented actresses eager to fill those roles!

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