And I can hardly wait! Major kudos go to Alli Houseworth for spreading the word about Scenes for Historic Women Playwrights: Read by Luminaries of the Stage. If it were for her, I wouldn't have known about this amazing event. So, of course, I checked in with her about it. I'm always interested in what drives people to "yes" and put their name on certain projects. Also, I wanted to know how she got involved and what she thought about some of the key issues being addressed by this reading. Here's her great interview:
Jacqueline Lawton: It’s been great getting to learn more about the women behind History Matters: Back to the Future. Please tell us how got involved with them.
Alli Houseworth: I know Amanda Feldman, the Creative Line Producer, from my time in New York. She was really looking to connect the DC community to this project so she reached out to me for help.
JL: Your efforts to make sure the D.C. theatre community knows about Scenes by Historic Women Playwrights: Read by Luminaries of the Stage have been wonderful. What do you think DC artists and institutions can learn from this event?
AH: One thing that really piqued my interest about the project in the first place is that in this current theatrical landscape - where we all seem to be talking about a deep need for new plays, a dire lack of plays by women, plays by people of color that are currently being produced, etc - we're not really talking about past success. When Amanda approached me about this project, I thought right off the bat “how interesting is it that we seem to have forgotten what came before?” I hope this event provides the DC theatre community with a new perspective that could inspire new ideas.
JL: Women’s voices are essential to the American Theatre. Yet time and time again, women’s plays are overlooked on our stages. Why do you think gender parity remains such a struggle in this country?
AH: This is a loaded question. I suppose an oversimplified way of putting it is history and statistics. Women are up against a long history of men running things - or at least being perceived as the ones who have run things. We’re also a country that tends to value power, struggle, success, ladder climbing, etc. and we’re not really one that seems to value empathy, care-giving, compassion and how short-sighted thoughts and actions can effect an overall landscape in the long run. I think the former tend to be traits that are more often “male” and the latter tend to be more often “female.” So who knows, maybe it’s biology. Maybe it’s history. Maybe it’s economics. Maybe it’s PR. Who knows... time will tell.
JL: Do you identify as a feminist? If so, for how long and why?
AH: Actually no. It’s something I’ve wondered about lately. I’ve had the fortune of having been raised by, and around, very strong women. I always thought it was normal to have a great mom also ran her own company. Turns out this is not the norm and the older I’ve gotten the more and more I’ve seen the particular struggle that women face in all areas of life. I’m starting to think that just surviving as a woman might be the hardest job on the planet.
JL: What advice do you have for young feminist artists?
AH: You don’t have to play their game. Make your own.
ABOUT ALLI HOUSEWORTH
Alli Houseworth is the Founder and President of Method 121, a company that curates audience engagement and social media strategies for theatrical organizations. Alli has ten years of PR and marketing experience that has straddled both the non-profit and commercial worlds. Having completed an MFA in Theatre Management and Producing from Columbia University, she has established herself as one of the industry’s experts in audience engagement and social media. For the last two years she has taught service mapping and social media to MFA Theatre Management and Producing candidates at Columbia in a course called Audience Engagement: In Line and Online. In 2009 she founded the TKTS Patron Service Representative program - a program which started with initial research at the TKTS location in Times Square - and now is a massive component of Theatre Development Fund’s programming. After founding the TKTS Patron Service Representative Program, Alli worked as the Marketing and Communications Director at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company where she was able to combine her love for audiences and social media with her love for new plays, and the new play development process.
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!