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october 11 2018

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ichard Eyre to receive Gielgud Award i t h

H u b e r tS m i c h a r d

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thestage.co.uk/news Online platform aims to promote women composers

Georgia Snow

A dedicated platform promoting female musical theatre composers is being created in a bid to move the industry towards gender parity.

The project will create an online database of female theatre composers to showcase the “wealth of talent” in the UK. It also aims to collect data that can be used to encourage change.

It is being set up by composer Kate Marlais, who was inspired to take action after becoming frustrated with the uphill struggle of being a woman in the profession.

Research conducted by The Stage last year found that just 9% of West End musicals produced in the West End over the past decade were written by female composers.Three quarters of musicals staged in the West End over the same period had exclusively male writing teams.

Marlais, who is the Cameron Mackintosh resident composer at the Lyric Hammersmith, told The Stage: “Time and time again people ask: ‘Where are all the female composers writing for theatre and musical theatre in the UK?’ I thought I should answer that question directly, so when people ask it I can say: ‘Here they are.’ ”

The platform, Modulate, will become a database for the women working in musical theatre composition, Marlais said, where individual composers can have a profile they create themselves featuring career information as a showcase of their work, as well as requirements and aspirations.

“The ultimate goal is a 50:50 gender balance in this community, and many schemes have started to do it for other aspects of the industry – writers, directors and so on – but we must make sure we do it for all corners of the creative process,” she said.

In the first instance, female composers are asked to fill out an online form, to enable the collation of data on the landscape of female composers. This will then be aggregated and analysed to gather industry-wide trends as well as specific data that can be used to illustrate the make-up of the profession and lobby theatres for change.

Marlais said she wanted the final online platform to become “the go-to place” for theatres, producers and creatives seeking composers.

“Hopefully there will be no more excuses as to why they haven’t potentially looked as hard as they could have done in the first place... I have had conversations with people who are looking for composers and they genuinely will not know where to start, so this could be that starting point for them to go to and have every piece of information in order to make a decision based on everything we can offer.”

Director Richard Eyre is to receive this year’s Gielgud Award for Excellence in the Dramatic Arts. The prize will be presented at the UK Theatre Awards, which will be hosted by Tyrone Huntley. Ian McKellen will present the prize to Eyre at the ceremony on October 14 at London’s Guildhall. Previous recipients of the award include Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi, Eileen Atkins and Vanessa Redgrave. Last year it was won by David Hare.

Trafalgar Entertainment launches technical apprenticeships

Georgia Snow

A technical apprenticeships scheme aimed at closing a skills gap in the sector is being launched by Trafalgar Entertainment Group, the company formed by Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire.

Launched initially as a pilot programme, the scheme will employ two paid apprentices for 21 months each.

One will be based at the company’s main home in London’s Trafalgar Studios, while the other will be part of the events team at Stagecoach Theatre Arts, the performing arts schools network TEG took over in July.

It is part of a collaboration with National College Creative Industries, which specialises in training the next generation of backstage staff for theatre.

The scheme follows repeated warnings of a skills gap among backstage roles within the industry, which threaten the future of theatre.

As part of their placements, the two TEG apprentices will learn how to provide technical support for the construction, rehearsal, presentation and removal of a live performance.

Squire, who announced the scheme as she delivered the keynote speech at NCCI’s graduation ceremony on October 4, said the placements would focus on training young people “with skills suited to a 21st-century technology-based workplace”.

She added: “Howard and I have always believed in building creative skills for the future and growing a workforce from the grassroots up. It’s therefore essential that employers offer unique training opportunities for young people wishing to pursue careers in the creative industries.”

Panter and Squire founded Ambassador Theatre Group but left in 2015 when they were replaced as joint chief executives by Mark Cornell.They subsequently set up TEG, maintaining the ownership of Trafalgar Studios to run it independently.

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