Theatre season addresses gender gap with performances


Courtesy of the Department of Music and Theatre

As part of ISU Theatre’s “HERoic” season, the performance “The Wolves” by Sarah DeLappe shows an all-girls soccer team as they navigate the big questions and wage tiny battles with all the vim and vigor of a pack of adolescent warriors.

Logan Metzger

Among the sexes, unequal representation is a daily facet of many people’s lives. Iowa State’s Department of Music and Theatre is seeking to change that with its new theatre season.

For its 2019-20 season, ISU Theatre will showcase six shows written by women. It will also bring two female 2019 Tony Award winners to Iowa State, host a year-long symposium series on gender in the arts, celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage and commit to a national “50/50 by 2020” initiative promoting gender equity in theater.

According to the Dramatists Guild of America’s 2016-17 season count, only 29 percent of plays produced in America are written by women. The percentage drops to 24 percent for plays produced in the Great Plains region where Iowa resides.

ISU Theatre will attempt to address the gender gap with its “HERoic” season, which features plays and musicals written by women.

“It’s time for a change,” said Brad Dell, associate professor and ISU Theatre director in a press release. “We are eager to commit to gender parity and a more inclusive canon in future seasons. Our season will celebrate the importance of women’s voices in the arts, humanities and sciences, and encourage others to commit to equal and equitable space at every table for women now and into the future.”

ISU Theatre’s season includes a series of climate change plays, a family musical about George Washington, a retelling of Homer’s “The Odyssey” through an immigrant perspective, the story of a high school girls soccer team, Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” musical and a puppetry drama that focuses on the connection between humans and the natural world.

Along with the performances, ISU Theatre has also planned a year-long symposium series, “HERoic: Gender Equity in the Arts” which includes lectures by two 2019 Tony Award recipients.

Rachel Hauck, 2019 winner for best scenic design of a musical for “Hadestown,” presented “Knowing How to Break the Rules: Set Design on Broadway” at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union.

Ali Stroker, the first actor in a wheelchair to earn a 2019 Tony Award, was selected as the best-supporting actress in a musical for “Oklahoma.” Stroker will present “Turning Limitations into Opportunities” at 7 p.m. April 6 in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union.

The symposium series will include round table community conversations after the Sunday performances of each of the six productions. These conversations will feature local experts and guest artists who will lead discussions relating to the productions, gender equity, representation and diversity.

“We are excited to invite audiences to participate in this conversation and provide students opportunities to engage with local, regional and national artists and scholars,” Dell said in a press release.

All performances will be held in Fisher Theater. Tickets are available through the Stephens Auditorium ticket office and Ticketmaster, or the Fisher Theater box office one hour prior to performances.

Climate Change Theatre Action: Lighting the Way

Oct. 4-13

Short plays address climate change issues and present a call to community action in partnership with the international Climate Change Theatre Action initiative.

“Chasing George Washington: A White House Adventure”

Oct. 25-Nov. 2

A White House field trip turns into a magical adventure with George Washington, who helps students discover the true portrait of America.


Dec. 6-14

A young refugee travels the U.S. on a search for his family in an imaginative adaptation of Homer’s “The Odyssey.”

“The Wolves”

Feb. 28-March 7

From the safety of their warm-up circle, an all-girls soccer team navigates the big questions and wages tiny battles with all the vim and vigor of a pack of adolescent warriors.

“9 to 5”

April 3-11

Based on the hit 1980 film, “9 to 5” delivers musical comedy and feminist flair when a trio of overworked office workers kidnap their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot of a boss.

“Of the Deep”

April 24-May 2

In this new play featuring puppetry and original music, residents of a small coastal village discover a massive whale carcass on their shore and must confront practical and existential challenges.

The entire list of events is available on the Department of Music and Theatre website.