Abbey Theatre announces plans to 'embrace and enshrine' gender equality

The 'Waking the Feminists' campaign called for changes after the theatre unveiled its 2016 programme

Abbey Theatre announces plans to 'embrace and enshrine' gender equality


The Abbey Theatre has announced its commitment to 'embrace and enshrine' gender equality.

The national theatre was at the centre of controversy last year when it was announced that only one out of the 10 plays programmed in 2016 was written by a woman.

It led to a campaign dubbed 'Waking the Feminists', calling for equality for women in Irish theatre

The board and director of the Abbey previously acknowledged that their 2016 programme did not represent gender equality, and a dedicated 'Waking the Feminists' event was organised at the theatre.

A gender equality commission was established by the Abbey in December to examine the issue.

Now the theatre has announced a set of eight 'gender equality' principles.

Among the goals are commitments to achieving gender equality at board level and during the play commissioning process, as well as achieving "gender equality in all areas of the artistic programme over the next five years by presenting more work led by female theatre practitioners".

You can read the full list here.

Loretta Dignam, chair of the theatre's gender equality committee, says they have spent "several months engaging with a wide variety of stakeholders".

She explains: "We have learned that gender equality is a complex issue in theatre globally. To really succeed, gender equality needs to become part of the DNA of an organisation, with a stated goal, clear actions and accountability.

"In order for the Abbey Theatre to achieve gender equality, change is required in several areas simultaneously. We believe that this comprehensive set of principles encapsulates the change that’s required," she added.

The Waking the Feminists campaign has said the news from the Abbey is an "encouraging update".