Row over Abbey programme

Hundreds protest about gender bias at Dublin theatre.

Hundreds of Irish theatre makers have protested over the Abbey Theatre’s gender bias.

The protest follows an announcement by the famous Dublin theatre that its  commemorative programme for the 100th anniversary of Ireland’s Easter Rising would include just one play written by a woman.

Women from across the theatre and the arts have been angered by the news and

international support has come from stars such as Martha Plimpton and Meryl Streep .

Artist Sarah Durcan said: “We are not asking — we are demanding equality and economic  parity. It is simple: commit fully to programming more women artists. In this national theatre, funded by a woman, cofounded by a woman with a queen on its emblem ... we must look at everything we do and root out the blight of inequality.”

Since it opened in 1904 the Dublin theatre has been the creative hub for some of Ireland’s most famous dramatists and writers including WB Yeats, Sean O’Casey and JM Synge.

But female writers, artists, playwrights and producers claim there is a longstanding gender bias

Writer Sinead Gleeson said that there was a ‘culture of control and fear’ which prevented women from speaking out about the gender bias in the arts.

Fiach Mac Conghail, director at the Abbey, has apologised to the campaigners, saying, “The fact that I haven’t programmed a new play by a female playwright is not something I can defend.”

He added, “This experience has presented a professional challenge to me as a programmer and has made me question the filters and factors that influence my decision making.”

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