Rambling around town the other day, I picked up a brochure for a new initiative by The Abbey Theatre. Next month, they’re running a series of six 20 minute plays by women. Ask most people to name an Irish female playwright and if you’re lucky, they’ll say Marina Carr, so this is a brilliant idea and one to be applauded. It highlights new voices and gives a space to Irish women dramatists – something which is seriously needed – so fair play to the Abbey. But does it really have to be called The Fairer Sex? The title seems to take away from the empowering impetus provided by running these plays. According to the free dictionary The Fair Sex is defined as “attractively feminine”, which seems to link physicality with worth, so in the context of promoting female playwrights, does this not undermine the message a little? To my mind, the phrase has always had connotations of weakness and/or of being somewhat lesser than the testicle-owners on the planet.
Name aside, it’s still a very admirable idea and you can support it by going along. Public readings of the plays will take place in the Peacock Theatre over two evenings next month. Wednesday June 10th will feature Ribbons by Elaine Murphy, Salad Day by Deirdre Kinahan and Nineteen Ninety Two by Lisa McGee. On June 17th, the featured plays/writers are Meeting Miss Ireland by Rosemary Jenkinson, Blue Light Flashes by Claire Kilroy and Birdsong by Ursula Rani Sarma.