For the second consecutive year, NextStop Theatre in the Washington suburb of Herndon, Virginia, has been honored with the International Centre for Women Playwrights (ICWP) 50/50 Applause Award. The award recognizes theaters that produced 50 percent or more women playwrights in their 2015–2016 season of shows. ICWP defines 50/50 by the number of qualifying performances in a theater’s season.
In a theatrical season that featured the DC Women's Voices Festival, NextStop was one of only five theater companies in the DC area that was recognized for the 2015–2016 season (Round House Theatre, Imagination Stage, Theatre Alliance, and Rep Stage are the others). NextStop was also listed along with Round House Theatre as one of an even smaller number of companies to receive the award for two consecutive years.
"We are deeply honored to have once again been recognized by the ICWP with the 50/50 Applause Award," Producing Artistic Director Evan Hoffmann said in a press release. "Gender parity is a badge of honor that we are proud to wear. Furthermore, I am pleased to report that the same parity was present among the talented men and women who directed the 2015–2016 productions."
For the awards’ fifth anniversary, ICWP recognized 107 recipients in 10 countries on five continents. The list includes theatres in Australia, Canada, England, Italy, Kenya, the Philippines, Scotland, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United States. Approximately 32 percent of the theaters are repeat recipients, demonstrating gender parity in two or more seasons. Recipients range from community and college theaters to internationally renowned companies. To meet some of the theaters, go to the ICWP celebration video at www.womenplaywrights.org/50-50-awards-video-2016.
For several years, the international performing arts industry has been scrutinized for its underrepresentation of women playwrights as well as women in leadership positions in theater. According to the League of Professional Theatre Women’s (LPTW) 2015 study “Women Count: Women Hired Off-Broadway 2010–2015,” women playwrights were produced 28 percent to 36 percent of the time. Among 10 Australian theatres, 39 percent of original and adapted works were by women (The National Voice 2106, Australian Writers Guild). The UK’s Purple Seven study “Gender in Theatre” of 2012–2015 seasons reported 28 percent of playwrights were female.
The LPTW study points out that new works by women are more likely to be produced today than those by women in the past, although there are many classic women playwrights. The AWG cites that commissioned adaptations are where women are making the least amount of headway.
Launching its fourth professional season last month, NextStop Theatre Company has established a regional reputation for producing critically acclaimed productions and educational programs while showcasing a wide array of local talent, Broadway headliners, and locally driven arts. NextStop Theatre is made possible in part by generous grants from the Town of Herndon, the Ruth & Hal Launders Charitable Trust, the Nelson J. & Katherine Friant Post Foundation, the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia–Seeley Fund, the Arts Council Fairfax County, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and NextStop's loyal patron donors.
November 4, 2016