My name is Sam Hall. I set up 17Percent in 2009.
I am a writer, primarily a playwright, but formerly a journalist and editor of a trendy local magazine. I had always liked plays and when I was at school, I won a competition to write one, but I fell in with the student journalism crowd at university, stopped writing plays and carried on with journalism after for several years.
But about ten years ago, I started to get a hankering to write plays again, and after doing a short course at The Royal Court I did an MA in Plays and Scripts. It was while I was doing these and various other writing courses that it began to seep in that there was an overwhelming majority of women in the room. Maybe this inequality can simply be explained by learning styles. Perhaps women prefer to learn by going on a course, whereas a man might just jump straight in and do his creative endeavour – the ‘reading the instructions first vs. just putting it together’ argument.
Anyway, this started me thinking, that with all these women learning how to write plays, I should be being able to see lots of plays by women. But looking around in London where I lived at the time, I noticed that it tipped the other way. I could usually see about 5 modern plays written by men to every play by a woman. (And I’m not counting Shakespeare, as that makes the figures even lower.)
So I discovered that the percentage of plays on in UK theatres written by women since about 2000 has remained at about 17%. I decided to start an organisation to support and promote female playwrights called 17Percent. And with a limited amount of resources, I think so far, I have achieved quite a bit. I have a YouTube channel and blog where I interview male and female theatre practitioners, to offer advice and act as inspiration to other female playwrights. I’ve spoken on panels and given talks about female playwrights. For the past year and a bit I have also run a showcase night for female playwrights where over 30 playwrights have been showcased. I am currently investigating ways to develop this showcase.
That’s the background to 17Percent – for 100deeds I posted a version of a speech I gave about ninja suffragette Edith Garrud – a fascinating woman!
You can read the article here: http://17percent.wordpress.