Latest News

Sphinx Theatre and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama are collaborating on a showcase of 7 short plays pieces written as part of the Sphinx 30 project 2020/2021, directed by Ros Philips and Martin Wylde. The writers who have been selected for this showcase are: Satinder Chohan, Suzette Coon, Sarah Grochala, Ming Ho, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Julia Pascal, Jane Upton. Due to Covid restrictions entry to this event is by invite only.

Our friend Futures theatre has released a new podcast series! Fully Amplified is a 7-part original drama-documentary series exploring the stories of over 30 women and non-binary people from all walks of life, brought to you by some of the UK’s most dynamic writers.

Now on Apple, Spotify & more.

For more information go to the fully amplified website: www.futurestheatre.co.uk/fully-amplified

We had an incredible time at our What Share of the Cake? Forum, presented in association with University Women in the Arts and the December Group, a new group of women artists and practitioners working in theatre. It was astonishing to hear all of the research in one place, and we are reinvigorated in our fight to establish gender equality in theatre with help from Arts Council England.

To take a look at our research head over to the Research Reports page, and watch this space for our new report on the outcomes of the forum.

Sphinx, alongside other members of the December Group, has written an Open Letter to Oliver Dowden. Find out more here.

Dear Oliver Dowden,

Over the last 2 months, we have been looking at the question of how to rebuild the arts post-coronavirus, from the perspective of women’s equality.  Our concern is that gender inequality will increase in straitened, risk-averse conditions.

Our research shows that one reason less work by women is programmed is that women are sometimes viewed (incorrectly) as more of a box-office risk.  This aligns with evidence in Sphinx Theatre’s year-long research project on Women in Theatre, conducted with Jennifer Tuckett at the University of Cambridge last year, including quotes from NPO Artistic Directors:

“There isn’t enough money to make exciting commissions happen and there is pressure on the bottom line to deliver sure fire winners, which often means extant texts, which often means male written.” 

“I would say that managing risk is a challenge for every theatre. There are things that I know in the wider sphere wouldn’t be a risk, but here they would be. And that often is to do with contemporary new work that’s not necessarily of a known quality”.

“The challenge is we need a play that’s recognizable, that we can get an audience in with…. and the repertoire’s dominated by men. So it’s how you change that.”

We will be sending you the Report of our recent research, and from the major Women in Theatre Forum (partners including The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, Equity, ERA 50:50, University Women in the Arts, Sphinx Theatre, Black Womxn in Theatre, Stage Directors UK).

We are writing to flag up this issue now, however, as we notice that your taskforce has only 3 women out of the 9 task force members (33%).  Our research from Australia has shown that a gender-equal team is more likely to consider all genders’ needs.

We also notice that 0% of the leadership is female, as both yourself, as Chair of the taskforce, and the newly appointed Commissioner for Cultural Recovery and Renewal are male.

For all these reasons, we ask that you use a ‘gender lens’ to make and review all your decisions.

We will be sending you our Report within the next few weeks.  We ask you and your taskforce to reflect, and act, on its findings, as you consider how best to rebuild the arts post-coronavirus.

We hope you will let us know what measures will be put in place to ensure gender equality.

Best wishes,


Maureen Beattie OBE, President of Equity

Sue Parrish, Artistic Director, Sphinx Theatre

Polly Kemp, Co-founder, ERA 50: 50

Brigid Larmour, Artistic Director, Watford Palace Theatre

Jennifer Tuckett, Director, University Women in the Arts

Dr Julia Pascal, writer, director, academic and the first female director at the National Theatre at the South Bank

Chloe Todd Fordham, playwright, dramaturg and the former Literary Manager at Graeae Theatre Company


On behalf of The December Group

Pick of the Week

The Wife of Willesden @ Kiln

The Wife of Willesden @ Kiln

“A proper local legend. Married five times. Mother. Lover. Aunt. Friend. Alvita has the gift of the gab: she can rewrite mistakes into triumphs, turn pain into parables, and her love life’s an epic poem. They call her The Wife of Willesden… A play that celebrates the human knack for telling elaborate tales, especially about our own lives.

Critically acclaimed, multi-award winning, best-selling author Zadie Smith makes her playwriting debut, transporting Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath to 21st Century North West London. Directed by Indhu Rubasingham. On till January 15th

Night Mother @ Hampstead Theatre

Night Mother @ Hampstead Theatre

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Marsha Norman’s astonishing play explores a mother and a daughter’s lives, relationships and up-to-the-minute life defining choices with unblinking honesty, raw humour and suspense.

Don’t miss ‘Night Mother’ at Hampstead, directed by Roxana Silbert. On until the 4th December.

Fair Play @ Bush Theatre

Fair Play @ Bush Theatre

“The clocks are set. The line is drawn. They’ve got a chance to be champions. But at what cost?”

A gripping exploration of the underside of women’s athletics, Fair Play is written by Ella Road (The Phlebotomist) and directed by Monique Touku. On until the 22nd January.

In the Press

Alex Critoph: It’s time to let women tell their own stories in theatre

The Stage, 3rd March 2020

Arts Council England accused of barely mentioning women in its 10 year Strategy

The Stage, 7th February 2020

Sexism and gender divide ingrained in UK theatre

The Guardian, 27th Jan 2020

Time to drop the cliche that women only write 'domestic' plays - Erica Whyman

The Stage, 26th September 2019

Timberblake wertenbaker and jude kelly join symposium exploring gender equality

The Stage, 12th December 2018

Female theatre leaders hail arts council meeting as a major step forward for gender parity campaign

The Stage, 7th December 2018

We're now confusing diversity and equality. Which is our priority?

The Guardian, 17th June 2018

Women are being excluded from the stage. It's time for quotas

The Guardian, 24th April 2018

Sphinx theatre's sue parrish: we must break down the barriers to gender parity

The Stage, 8th March 2018 for International Women's Day

Directors must deal with how older plays depict women

WhatsOnStage, 12th May 2017

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