Looking at my theater-going calendar for the month of September, an odd happenstance occurred to me: September is probably the first time in my life that I’ve seen three shows in a row that had all-female casts. And I don’t mean a one-woman show or a two-hander. Like, four or more women making up a full-sized cast.
Steel Magnolias at Second Space (I see it every week as I’m an understudy).
Real Women Have Curves at Selma Arts Center.
And Friday I will see The Wolves at Fresno State University Theater.
I actually checked my calendar to see if I could squeeze in Dixie Swim Club at the Ice House in Visalia just so I could say I rounded it out with the fourth. (Unfortunately, no.)
Four all-female shows on in the area within a month of each other. It seems such a strange anomaly, yet one I hope to see repeated a bit more often. A quick google search shows that there are apparently oodles of all-female plays out there. The Dramatist Play Service finder alone lists about 40 full-length plays with a all-female casts and 4 or more parts. (The largest cast is, of course, The Women.)
But I guess the question becomes how many of them are very popular, very marketable, very good? I don’t know. The Wolves is one of the 25 most produced plays of the 2017-2018 year. Steel Magnolias is a such perennial favorite that even arguable knock-offs like Dixie Swim Club pull strong audiences. Real Women Have Curves stayed in rotation just enough since 1990 to warrant a 2015 update.
Looking at the lists and lists of available all-female titles, however, few have any name recognition. Punching out of the pack can be an uphill battle in the new play world, and may be even harder for all-female casts. I can think of one from the last three years, beside The Wolves, that has name recognition for me. But would it for anyone else?
The play is titled, funnily enough, Men on Boats and did gangbusters at Playwright’s Horizons in 2015. It is on the current season at ACT in San Francisco.
So, the plays are out there. They’re being written. Even produced. Finding them and taking the chance on their potential is perhaps the key. Like women themselves, all-female plays tend to be judged on their track record, not on their potential.
Anyway, it got me to wondering . . . what all-female plays are on your to-do list? Either to see, produce, or write?