It’s safe to say the performing arts industry is female dominated, but this doesn’t seem to be the case for improvisational comedy theatre, or improv for short. So where are all the women and why aren’t they flocking to make things up on stage?
Is it not feminine enough? Are they intimidated by the male dominance? We ask two of Big Fork Theatre’s co-founders, Taylor Edwards and Rosa Sottile, for their view.
Improv in Australia is a male-dominated art form. Why do you think that is?
Taylor: From my experience, improv in Australia is one of the more open and supportive comedic artforms for women, but still suffers gender imbalance. Many women start improv and are amazing at it, but more tend to leave over time than men. Gender in comedy is a complex topic we could talk about for hours.
Rosa: It's a combination of factors that includes bad personal experiences on and off stage, fewer performance opportunities, a lack of visibility of women and women’s issues on stage, plus societal commitments.
Taylor: Yeah definitely; child raising for one really eats away at free time and nights for performing and jamming.
Rosa: The patriarchy isn’t an easy thing to overthrow!
How does Big Fork Theatre encourage women to perform in unscripted shows?
Taylor: We try to spend energy on making our jams, rehearsals and shows a safe and supportive space for women. We’re learning all the time and try to grow from our experiences.
Rosa: We make sure our casts feature women as much as possible and that performing opportunities are extended to everyone. And we are proud and excited to be putting on our first all-female improv show this Friday. It’s a great way to showcase the talent in Brisbane.
Taylor: The cast are such a talented bunch of improvisers. It’s going to be a fantastic night!
What would you say to any female who is considering trying improv?
Taylor: I’d say come and check out our women’s show this Friday, 15 September at 7.30pm at Hands on Art in Paddington for inspiration.
Rosa: Yeah, once you watch these women you’ll probably want to give it a go.