The Playgoer: Cure Women Playwrights!

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Cure Women Playwrights!

UPDATE (2:20pm): Ok, so as some recent comenters have pointed out, I may have this story wrong. The bracelets seem to be for "living American playwrights" not just women. (And not just "living" women either, I guess. Unfortunately I was so turned off by the thing I left mine in my seat and so threw away the evidence. Unlike blogger Mike Mariano, who not only kept his but photographed it.

All I can say is I could have sworn the staffer said "women playwrights" to me. And it never even occurred to me to look for an inscription. So rest assured I have now done what I probably should have done initially--contacted the 2nd Stage marketing dept.

If I'm wrong, then I guess it's not quite as outrageous. Not quite.

Stay tuned.

So as I was waiting to be ushered in to Second Stage for Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice last night, I was accosted by a young woman, seemingly a company stafffer, holding out a pale blue-ish rubber wristband. "Hey, would you mind wearing this to show support for women playwrights?"

I was so perplexed I think my dropped jaw prevented me from uttering any answer. Before I knew it this putty bracelet was in my hand, and I was noticing people all around me in the house wearing them! So I realized it was not a joke.

I know female playwrights have been historically underrepresented on stage. But they're a disease now?

Or disease victim, to take the wristband analogy literally. Sorry, "survivor." While I'm sure Sarah Ruhl would agree she's a survivor of the Development Hell of nonprofit theatreland... I'm sure her hemoglobin count was just fine.

Um, where does one start with what's wrong with this. Offensive to actual cancer victims? Diminishing the quality of your theatre's work by likening it to charity? Unimaginable bullying of your audience to revere your show or else you're...well, evil?

And why am I showing solidarity with a suffering survivor who just got a $500,000 MacArthur "Genius" Award???

Forget what I thought of the play--what's going on at Second Stage?

PS. According to this online disease-wristband catalog, pale blue seems to be already taken: by prostate cancer. Odd choice.


Anonymous said...

I guess that disease is a long way from being cured, since all of the shows in Second Stage's 2007-08 season are written by men. Maybe you should show support by not going to them!

Are you sure it was a staffer and not just some random one-night attempt at...something?

parabasis said...

That seems f*ing ridiculous. And rather unhelpful to the actual cause of getting more female playwrights produced.

Playgoer said...

Fair question about whether this was a Second Stage policy or some "renegade" wristband guerilla.

But, hey, it's their theatre. Their responsible for what happens within its walls.

(Note, this was NOT out on the street, but in the aisle. I also saw a pile of them on my way out by the subscription sign-up desk.)

Anonymous said...

I find the whole ribbon/wristband wearing phenomenon to be superficial at best and emotionally disingenuous at worst. The idea that you must, lemming-like, join in with a crowd and display some magical token of your support, and that by doing so you are somehow making a real contribution to a cause is simply ludicrous.

How in the world can wearing a wristband "support" women playwrights? This is just another example of a quick-fix that does nothing but salve a consumer's conscience, making them feel like they are doing something when, in fact they are doing nothing at all.

Paul Rekk said...

I'll just stick with the "Support Women Playwrights" ribbon magnet on the rear end of my car, thankyouverymuch. It's right alongside my "Don't Force Your Cause On Me!" Gadsden flag.

Unnecessary clarification: not that this is an unworthy cause, but to less gracefully repeat Isaac, shove my face in something and odds are I'm not going to come back for seconds.

Mark said...

Of course it is troubling that the supposedly progressive theater community has abominable ratios of male/female playwrights produced. And it's worse for female directors!

But likening their plight to that of cancer victims is really offensive in exactly the way that Playgoer suggests. But someone in the theater community made that explicit argument by making up and distributing these bracelets. Whether it was the theater or someone operating with a loose affiliation, we'll presumably be hearing more about this campaign in the near future.

Rocco said...

You totally beat me to the punch on this. I got one too when I saw Eurydice as I was waiting by the restrooms for a friend. Only he said I should wear this to support "living" playwrights. And the wristband I got says "2ST Indispensable in Supporting Living American Playwrights". Still odd.

And the best part is that inside the wristband is Second Stage's web address, and a phone number. In case I'm out jogging and think, "oh crap I haven't gotten my tickets to Peter and Jerry yet".

Mike Mariano said...

The bracelet I was given reads: "2ST: Indispensable in Supporting Living American Playwrights." So there's a separate version in support of women playwrights?

Well, not really in support: the text displays support for Second Stage itself.

Mark said...

The plot thickens. Mike's braclet looks green and Playgoer describes his as blue. Garrett, what did your bracelet say? Same as Mike's or different?

Paul Rekk said...

Allow me to amend my previous comment:


I'll just stick with the "Support Living American Playwrights" ribbon magnet on the rear end of my car, thankyouverymuch. It's right alongside my "Don't Force Your Cause On Me!" Gadsden flag.

Unnecessary clarification: not that this is an unworthy cause, but to less gracefully repeat Isaac, shove my face in something and odds are I'm not going to come back for seconds.


Now if you'll excuse me, this Living American Playwright's IV drip awaits.

Anonymous said...

i used to work for second stage. basically the bracelet is just a way to get their name and mission out to the public. their mission is producing work by living American playwrights and that they are the only company in new york to exclusively do that. the bracelets are usually their trademark orange but they are blue for 'eurydice,' or that's what i was told at least.

Playgoer said...

Thanks to all these clarifying comments. No response yet from Second Stage, by the way.

The last anon is particularly news to me since it is implied that they've been doing the bracelet thing for a while already. Never noticed myself. Is this just the first time they've foisted them upon ticketbuyers?

Anonymous said...

this is the former 2st worker. i was under the impression that they'd given them out before. but at eurydice they were most definitely being foisted on the populous.