Sunday 26 March 2017

Stars of stage and screen make their voices heard for equality in theatre

Lead by Campaign Director, Lian Bell, Actors, theatre professionals, writers, academics, business and community leaders all gathered on the Rosie Hackett Bridge before the final major public event at the AbbeyTheatre in #WakingTheFeminists’ year long campaign for gender equality in Irish Theatre.
Lead by Campaign Director, Lian Bell, Actors, theatre professionals, writers, academics, business and community leaders all gathered on the Rosie Hackett Bridge before the final major public event at the AbbeyTheatre in #WakingTheFeminists’ year long campaign for gender equality in Irish Theatre.
Campaign Director Lian Bell with actors, writers, academics, and business and community leaders gather on the Rosie Hackett Bridge before the final major public event at the AbbeyTheatre in the #WakingTheFeminists yearlong campaign for gender equality in Irish theatre. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Ryan Nugent

'Love/Hate' star Tom Vaughan-Lawlor has rallied behind the 'Waking the Feminists' movement saying his female colleagues are "made to feel less" on set.

Mr Vaughan-Lawlor joined the new director of the Gate Theatre Selina Cartmell, comedian Alison Spittle, and singer Camille O'Sullivan at the 'WTF: One More Thing' event in the Abbey Theatre yesterday.

Mr Vaughan-Lawlor said female actors face greater scrutiny than their male counter-parts, while Ms Spittle said the lack of space for women on TV panel shows creates intense rivalry. Both believe more people need to speak out about gender inequality in the arts.

Mr Vaughan-Lawlor, famous for his role as Nidge in the hit crime drama 'Love/Hate', pointed to a number of subtle obstacles women face.

"Over the years it became clearer and clearer to me that acting is a different profession for women," he said.

"Besides the visible imbalances in terms of pay and available roles, and the focus on ageing and weight, there are a myriad subtle ways that women in rehearsal rooms and on sets are - deliberately or otherwise - made to feel less.

‘Love/Hate’ star Tom Vaughan-Lawlor. Photo: Clare Keogh
‘Love/Hate’ star Tom Vaughan-Lawlor. Photo: Clare Keogh

"Once you open your eyes to it, you can see it everywhere."

He said that his wife, Claire Cox, also an actor, made a point of the vast differences to him a number of years ago, but he didn't believe it at the time.

"She told me you have no idea how hard it is to be heard in such a masculine environment," he said.

"I laughed it off at the time and teased her for not being tough enough."

The Ifta award-winning actor said he now wants to be proactive in taking a stand against these issues in order to create a fairer acting environment for both genders.

"When you realise the deep profound effects on not only those you love, but also colleagues that inspire you and make you want to become an artist in the first place, it is shameful if you don't at least add your voice to the call for change," Mr Vaughan-Lawlor said.

"The one thing I have resolved to do is to strive to be active in support rather than simply standing on the side lines playing lip service to an ideal."

Stand-up comedian Ms Spittle said her role as a female comic meant she often received backhanded compliments such as "I don't like female comedians, but you're funny".

She said the lack of space for women on panel shows meant she would become envious of those that did appear, as she knew she had missed the opportunity to feature on the show.

"I saw women as rivals," she said. "Sure there's only one place for a woman on that panel show, there's one slot on that night for a woman and there's only one unfunny girlfriend role in that s**t sketch."

The Waking the Feminists movement kicked off in 2015 after the Abbey Theatre launched their centenary programme which featured hardly any female playwrights.

Irish Independent

Promoted articles

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment