It’s about time we shine a light on those shining the light. Theatre has a diversity problem and lighting design is not exempt. While American Theatre takes the time this summer to celebrate the great history and future of the field, it’s important to acknowledge where the field is now. And right now the field is incredibly white and incredibly male.
For one, it’s sobering to see how few women work in an industry that boasts such illustrious forebears as Jean Rosenthal and Tharon Musser. One of the starkest indicators was the 2017 HowlRound article from Porsche McGovern, which laid out, in painful detail, exactly what its headline suggests: “Who Designs and Directs in LORT Theatres by Gender.” The study, which looks at the 2012-13 through the 2015-16 seasons for League of Resident Theatres companies, shows that two-thirds of all LORT designers in that period were men who took almost three-quarters of all design jobs. Costume design is the only area where women held a majority of the design slots. In fact, costume design is the only area where women had more than 20 percent of the positions or made up more than 25 percent of the hiring pool.
*Also featured in the July/August issue of American Theatre magazine.*