Lauran Kelly introduces a new writing group in this guest post
A few weeks ago Bidisha wrote an article for The Guardian under the headline “I’m tired of being the token woman”, in which she discussed what she called “a cultural femicide”, the huge underrepresentation of women in the arts. This low visibility resonates with my own experiences as a playwright. Despite the fact that women outnumber men in theatre courses at university, the theatre industry, in particular writing still remains male dominated. Only 17% of produced playwrights are women and only 38% of stage roles are for women. An industry in which you are disadvantaged before you even pick up a pen (or open a word document) is hardly conducive to creativity. As a reaction, fellow playwright Hana MacKechnie and I have decided to start a group with two aims: women’s writing and women writers.
Based in Edinburgh, the women writers group has been created in order to support and facilitate the work of women writers. Hana and I have found that having people who you trust to read your work, to offer feedback, ideas and encouragement is invaluable. We also found that these people were overwhelming other women writers. Although every woman writer’s experiences and creative process are different, we have a common ground in our marginal position in writing. We understand the difficulty in creating in a culture which does not seem to value what you create. Hana and I hope that the group will become a space for women to come to when they need creative support or want to offer it. As the group expands we also hope to be able to offer workshops with successful women writers and arrange opportunities to work with professional actors.
Our other aim is to create a space where women writers are taken seriously. Underrepresentation is too often excused as a lack of interest from women or put down to intrinsic differences. We must make women writers more visible in order to expose the underlying inequality at work. We are making our voices heard. We are here, we are creating, we just aren’t being listened to.
The first meeting of the women writers group will take place on Wednesday 19 May, 7pm at Holyrood 9a, Holyrood road. Whether you write plays, poetry, novels, articles or haikus, or just want to support the work of women writers we would love to see you there.