Though Huffington Post writer Jill Dolan pointed out that women were absent from the playwright category from the 2011 Tony Awards, producers Anne Garefino and Stephanie McCelland took home the big award of the night for their musical “The Book of Mormon”. Other female winners included Marianne Elliott for best direction of the play “War Horse”, along with Tom Morris, as well as Lizzy Gardiner for best costume design for “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” along with Tim Chappel. Kathleen Marshall also won for her choreography of the “Anything Goes”, which won for best revival of a musical.
Women were definitely represented at The Tony’s in categories besides acting but Dolan is right in that woman have not had strong recognition as playwrights. According to her research, in the last ten years, of the 48 nominated best plays, only six were written by women and only one has won.
While female gender doesn’t necessarily guarantee insight into women’s lives, powerful first-string male critics regularly demonstrate a distressing lack of interest in plays in which women writers craft female protagonists. Sure, advocacy groups like the League of Professional Theater Women and 50/50 in 2020 work hard to redress quantitative bias. But without a gender-balanced critic’s corps in the American media, the lopsided, inadequate representation of women playwrights on Broadway will persist.
Well, women will just have to work on getting their stories told in the next few years.
In lighter news, the best Tony moment of the night and career moment (well of the speeches at least. All of the musical numbers, plus pretty much everything host Neil Patrick Harris did, were the best moments of the night) was when best actress in a musical winner Sutton Foster said “I have never been happier at a job! It doesnt even feel like a job! I love going to work everyday, the most incredible company of individuals and performers. All I ever wanted to be as a little girl was a performer and I get to do it now every night eight times a week, Unbelieavable.” She went on to thank all her teachers who helped her career and most importantly, her dresser.