Feminist workshop at Espace Go: theater women, unite

Where are the women in theater? Why do we hear them so little? How to see them more? This is a real feminist workshop on the place of women in theater that takes place next week at Espace Go Conferences, talks, participatory workshops are on the agenda, to arrive with concrete proposals to make things happen. Explanations in five steps.

The awakening

“We are 50% of the population: is it normal that the voice of women is not heard as much as that of men in the arts? This question, Marilyn Perreault poses regularly, especially since the research of the women’s movement for equity in theater (FET), which she is one of the instigators. This research has shown black and white ambient inequalities: between 2012 and 2017, women were almost absent from major scenes in Montreal and Quebec City, they revealed last year. Not a single woman’s text at Duceppe and just 7% in the TNM, though led by a woman, Lorraine Pintal. In Espace Go, devoted to the word of women, less than half (47%) of the texts presented were signed by women. On the side of the stagings, women remained a minority everywhere. The figures also revealed that it was mainly on the smaller stages or in the youth theater that they found themselves in the majority.


Since then, there has been some wind of change. The 2018-2019 Rideau Vert program, called “Place aux femmes”, was 100% feminine. Espace Go boasted a season when women are “omnipresent” in both writing and performing. Even the TNM welcomed last week its next program, “Dream Big”, showing parity of artists and designers. The feminist construction site, launched tomorrow, must also reveal new statistics, collected this time by the Quebec Network of Feminist Studies (RéQEF), to report on this recent evolution. “We’re happy if a season is female, but if the director adds:” It will not be all the time like that “, we are less happy, nuance here Marilyn Perreault. It’s important that it’s not just a wave! ”


As part of this growing mobilization of women in the field, Espace Go, led by Ginette Noiseux, decided last year to launch a vast project of reflection, analysis and strategy research, which start tomorrow. Hundreds of participants (and many participants, we hope) are expected to hear the stories of different women (Brigitte Haentjens, Suzanne Lebeau, Zab Maboungou), reflect on the history of women (and our lack of “matrimony”), analyze what is done elsewhere (especially in France) and debunk several myths. Objective: “Open your eyes to the price to pay for a woman to create, summarizes Ginette Noiseux. We have the feeling that we are working in a progressive left wing, but it is not so simple, there are unconscious biases. For example: why do women remain invisible, why is it so difficult for them to build credibility, “why are women asked 10 times more questions than men”?


The women interviewed here do not lack ideas, be it education, ensuring that young people read as much as women or men, or raising awareness, including the issue of parity. In the award of grants. And why not an Arts Council award to recognize a woman’s work, which would serve as a model for all others? Women for fairness in theater have some ideas to offer. Not to mention the importance of uniting. “It’s important to join our voices,” says humorist Dorothy Rhau, instigator of the International Black Women’s Show and President of Audace au feminine, invited here as an inspiration. Whether it’s theater, TV, the big screen or staging, in terms of gender or diversity, she hopes to “see change quickly,” she says. “We risk missing out on exceptional talent, and that would be a shame. ”


All the women interviewed here have emphasized that it is important that men also feel challenged. Catherine Bourgeois, director and stenographer, member of the FET and the site’s steering committee, hopes above all that we will finally see a “real and sincere discussion” about the place of women in the community, which will be addressed in a ” frankly “the challenges, and above all,” that we will come up with concrete proposals “. But she is not fooled: “We can scream as much as we want, organize projects, release statistics, if people who make decisions do not feel challenged, I can hardly believe that there will be Changes. ”

The feminist workshop on the place of women in theater takes place from 8 to 13 April at Espace Go. The activities are free and open to the public.