Publication Details

Miller, S. "Women and Leadership: Theatre." The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth Century Australia. eScholarship Research Centre, University of Melbourne: Australian Women's Archives Project 2014, 2014, 1-10.

Additional Publication Information

ISBN: 9780734048738


"We have something of the utmost importance to contribute: the sensibility, the experience and the expertise of one half of humanity. All we ask is that we are able to do this in conditions of complete equality." (Dorothy Hewitt, launching the Australia Council's 'Women in the Arts' report, 1983) Published in 2005, Rachel Fensham and Denise Varney's important book, The Doll's Revolution: Australian Theatre and Cultural Imagination, argues that the 1990s was a period in which women entered the theatrical mainstream and radically changed not just theatre but the way in which we think about Australian culture and identity: "Women playwrights, directors and actors have entered the mainstream. Their work has contributed to, if not radically transformed, the production of local and export quality Australian theatre and culture. At their most innovative, these women artists have revolutionised the stage of the last fifteen years with celebrated and award winning productions." (Fensham and Varney, 329) This surely is the very definition of creative leadership: to have not only the creative wherewithal but the ability and influence to affect not just theatre but ideas around nationhood and identity. It suggests that women have come a long way indeed since the 1970s, when they had to fight to be heard in even the most alternative and apparently radical of forums. Notably, however, Fensham and Varney also draw attention in closing to several key areas of concern, the first of which is the decline 'in the proportion of women writers in the repertoire of the mainstream companies in the mid-2000s' (337).