Improving gender equality through youth theatre
Youth theatre, school plays and amateur dramatics are the entry point to the arts for huge numbers of young people. But big gender inequalities persist: while the vast majority of young people who take part are girls, our theatrical tradition means that, even today, most of the scripts young people encounter are overwhelmingly written to be performed by men.
We don’t think young people should grow up believing that only men can have a voice on stage. So since 2015, Tonic has been commissioning and publishing a range of new plays that redress the balance. Our Platform series, delivered in partnership with leading theatre publishers Nick Hern Books, are scripts written with youth companies in mind, which have casts that feature all or mainly female or gender neutral casts.
Their huge success demonstrates how needed they are. The plays have been performed over 400 times in the UK, and in countries including Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ireland, Malta and the USA. To date, nearly 7000 copies of the scripts have been sold worldwide.
Platform was the recipient of the Outstanding Drama Initiative at the 2021 Music and Drama Education Awards. Two plays in the series, This Changes Everything by Joel Horwood and Heavy Weather by Lizzie Nunnery have been shortlisted for Writers Guild Awards.
“This was a well thought-through, timely initiative, imaginatively designed to address a significant issue in the industry. Much needed, and thorough.”Music & Drama Education Awards 2021
“Platform is vitally important for girls in education. I read at least 100 plays a year in the search for stylish, theatrically-challenging, well-written plays to perform with all-female casts; I rarely find one. I found one straight away after reading your publications. Not to mention the importance of encouraging female playwrights, to the point of having more of them represented on our hugely male-dominated exam set-text choices.”Teacher