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The Tony Nominations 2011 - Women Writers Completely Missing

by Melissa Silverstein
May 3, 2011 2:09 AM
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There is some good news and some very bad news in today's Tony nominations.

The good news first.

• Two women are nominated for best direction of play: Anna D. Shapiro, The Motherf**ker with the Hat and Marianne Elliott and co-director Tom Morris, War Horse
• Two women are nominated for best direction of a musical: Kathleen Marshall, Anything Goes and Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys (both these women were also nominated for best choreography)
• Eve Ensler is getting the Isabelle Stevenson Award
• Costumer designer Catherine Zuber scored two nominations - one for a play and one for a musical.

Now for the bad news.

Broadway has a major gender problem. Women buy the lion's share of tickets, yet there are no women nominated for best new play. Of course it's hard for a female writer to be nominated when there were NO plays by women in contention. There were 13 plays on the list and NOT A SINGLE ONE WAS WRITTEN BY A WOMAN. So totally unacceptable.

Here's a comment from Theresa Rebeck:

You could make that point that 100 % of the women who worked on Broadway this year got nominated. The question is why, out of the HUNDREDS of jobs for directors and playwrights and songwriters and bookwriters and lyricists, were there only 5 women working on Broadway? Seriously: the four women who directed and the ONE who had a writing credit were the only women writers/directors who worked on Broadway this season.

Read her reminder about the gender difficulties in the American theatre from Theresa Rebeck.

• One woman -- Cheri Steinkellner for Sister Act -- is nominated for best book of a musical.
• No woman is nominated for best score.
• No female written plays or musical are included in the best revival category.

Here are the other female nominees:

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Nina Arianda, Born Yesterday
Frances McDormand, Good People
Lily Rabe, The Merchant of Venice
Vanessa Redgrave, Driving Miss Daisy
Hannah Yelland, Brief Encounter

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (They had to cut down this category because not enough shows qualified)
Sutton Foster, Anything Goes
Beth Leavel, Baby It's You!
Patina Miller, Sister Act
Donna Murphy, The People in the Picture

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Ellen Barkin, The Normal Heart
Edie Falco, The House of Blue Leaves
Judith Light, Lombardi
Joanna Lumley, La Bête
Elizabeth Rodriguez, The Motherf**ker with the Hat

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Laura Benanti, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Tammy Blanchard, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Victoria Clark, Sister Act
Nikki M. James, The Book of Mormon
Patti LuPone, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Rae Smith, War Horse

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Donyale Werle, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Best Costume Design of a Play
Catherine Zuber, Born Yesterday

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Tim Chappel & Lizzy Gardiner, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Ann Roth, The Book of Mormon
Catherine Zuber, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Paule Constable, War Horse
Mimi Jordan Sherin, Jerusalem

Best Sound Design of a Play
Acme Sound Partners & Cricket S. Myers, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo

Full list of nominees

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  • Lisa | May 8, 2011 6:18 AMReply

    S Everly, as an ordinary consumer, how do I get these decision-makers hire more women behind the scenes and in stronger on-stage roles? I'd like a real answer that we can use, but I suppose if you had the answer this problem wouldn't exist.

  • S Everly | May 8, 2011 3:21 AMReply

    I care. To Lisa's comment -- "we" might "choose" what we see, but we do not choose the nominations. We do not choose who gets the most money for publicity. We do not choose who is represented on Broadway in the first place. Isn't it odd, for instance, that there is an absence of women of color? Is it because "we" choose not to want to see their work? In this case, I cannot speak for anyone else, but I definitely do NOT make these originary choices. So who does? And what are their genders? Races?

    Do you know how difficult it is to be a woman and to get a job in the theatre, let alone get a job that you can be noted for? I mean, beside taking tickets or selling refreshments. I am not talking about actors, although women are challenged here with finding strong roles, but with those who work behind the scenes and who shares an equal part in what happens on stage.

  • lisa | May 7, 2011 11:40 AMReply

    Of course some people care. If every non-performing woman working in Broadway is nominated for a Tony, consumers can't really show their beliefs more than they already are. We choose what to see, not what is there and who works on them.

  • Bigger Brother | May 5, 2011 8:38 AMReply

    It seems like I'm the only one who bothered to comment on this, and that commnet was removed. Maybe they're all too busy writing new Tony Award winning pieces? Or maybe no one cares.

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